Last weekend, I was hanging out with fellow mum Miss P, when we got onto the topic of swimming.
We both sighed: a sigh of a sweet summer of swimming with our kids, but also a deep sigh, as we started discussing pool logistics. Ahh… swimming. What should be so simple is such a logistical nightmare.
Pool season is upon us. I went to a large pool in my area on Saturday. It was hot outside, so it was the place to be. The car park was packed and I spent 15 minutes stalking and circling fellow bathers in my car, hoping they’d be on the move. The mega shopping centre nearby was heaving and I managed to find a park somewhere in the suburb nearby. I was cranky, and hot and sweaty with my swimmers on underneath my frock. Alfie was a sweating, slippery mass, fidgeting and annoyed.
We paid our small sum and went to the change room. The memories of last summer’s pool logistics flooded my guts. I managed to get Alfie sorted quickly thanks to the distraction of a box of sultanas, and we headed for the big dip.
The pool was so packed. So, to get a bit of space, I kept asking Alfie if he needed to do a poo. Bathers started to move away.
We settled into some splashing and thrashing around in the water. It was heaps of fun; more exciting than a park filled with hot Sunday dads, and I sort of forgot about the people around us. Then it dawned on me that there were many sets of eyes on me. I checked my boobs – they were in tucked into my bikini top. I checked that I was wearing pants – my high-waisted bikini bottoms were there (maybe slightly wedged up my bum, but there all the same). I checked my son’s bum – he hadn’t done a poo. Then I surveyed the other bathers; they were all wearing rash vests over their swimmers… in an indoor pool.
I felt suddenly very self-conscious standing in the toddler play pool wearing my bright blue polka dot bikinis. All the other mums in the pool looked so, well, respectable… so responsible, and so sun safe.
I have to admit, it has taken me ages to understand and be ok with my body post baby. My C cups went to an A cup. My curves went to a boy shape. I now have a chunky varicose vein on my thigh, and my feet are a different size altogether. While these changes seemed somewhat major immediately post baby, I seem to have moved on altogether now and finally like how my body looks. I’m fitter, stronger and healthier than I have ever been. Perhaps it’s because I don’t smash as many beers as I used to, but really, I think it is because I am constantly chasing my little 14-kilo kid around. My ‘mum guns’ are insane. I also respect my body so much more.
I can’t remember the last time I got shitfaced drinking booze and gobbling up a whole parma for fun. With the limited time I have for eating (and going to the toilet) my choices have to be wise. Most of the time, I’m sharing fruit with my kid or cooking up a dish that we can both eat. I hate the idea of my son eating crap, and now that he wants a piece of everything I am eating, there’s no excuse.
I was really annoyed that I felt so self-conscious at the pool. The rash vest mums had no intention of making me feel like this, I’m sure. My son certainly didn’t care what I was wearing, as long as I could splash. The man with the hairy back and the gold pinky ring certainly didn’t mind, as noted from his slow wink. It was me… the annoying, guilty, internalised me.
I had to shake it. I wanted to have fun. So, I picked out my massive polka dot wedge and splashed hard core, mucking around with my little man: squealing, shrieking, clapping, the works. It was ace.
We got out of the pool and headed back towards the change rooms. Alfie could barely walk. I thought he was really tired, but then I realised it was his nappy. It was bulging. Oh god, I thought, he’s done a massive poo. I tried to carry his heavy weight back to the change room, but he was upset and tried to walk himself. He couldn’t; his nappy was so big. It was like a pillow wedged between his legs.
I checked his bum and there was no poo, just a full nappy – a normal nappy, not a swimming nappy. Dick. This nappy had ballooned out like cloud pants. It was ridiculous. I dacked him and threw the nappy in the bin nearby, letting him run naked towards the change room. I felt the stares from the rash vest mums. Gosh.
On the way home I thought about the rash vest mums. How grown-up they all looked. How they looked like, well, mums. I wondered if I looked like a mum, with my dishevelled appearance splashing like a four year old in the kiddie pool wearing a polka dot bikini?
So, what is the appropriate mum wear for swimming? Rash vests, surf shorts, skort, bikinis, one piece, cat suit? Who gives a peanut! As long as there’s sunscreen on your skin and your vital bits are covered (in the pool; I don’t care what you do on a private beach), may you shine in whatever outfit you choose. I’m such a nutcase for judging myself constantly, comparing myself to other mums, trying to be a grown up. If I shake off all that internal crap, life is so much more fun in bikinis – varicose vein, small boobs, bum wedge and all.
Get your groove on this summer, mums, and don’t forget to slip, slop, slap.