Before each summer, I encounter multiple versions of the following conversation:
What are you doing this summer with the kids?
Swim team. The pool. Not too much.
What camps are your kids doing?
[Insert perplexed look] What are you doing to DO with your kids all summer?
I want to say it authoritatively, but it always comes out sheepish, “We’ll go to the pool.”
Now that my daughter is older, I have to endure this line of questioning with her, as well.
Mom, can I do horseback riding camp this summer?
Can I do gymnastics camp?
I don’t even have to answer that one.
But what am I going to DO all summer?
I’m not against summer camps in the least bit. But I’m a poor planner, don’t love to spend money I don’t have, and I tend to take paths of least resistance. Born and raised in the midwest, with an immigrant mother, my summers were largely spent at the pool, unsupervised, and un-SPF’d. Being at the pool all summer is what I know. It’s made me who I am.
The first summer I was a mom, I started with what I knew as a kid and I took my baby to the pool. (With loads of sunscreen on – don’t worry!) And that’s what I’ve done every summer since. From Memorial Day till Labor day, I keep my pool bag at the door, wash towels daily, and I’d like to thank Amazon Prime for my steady stock of sunscreen.
I love summer. I love the warmth and the fun. I love the unstructured and casual mornings with my kids. To me, summer inherently means no pressure and no schedules.
I may love summer, but my house is not even halfway clean. I buy groceries on a need-to-eat basis. I haven’t worked out in weeks and I am hardly cooking anything more than BLTs. I cannot keep my children from fighting, annoying, or teasing each other for any part of the day when we are at home.
In general, I’m holding onto just a shred of my sanity, but I’ll tell you one thing – I know how to be Mom when I’m at the pool. Once there, I can let go of the cooking, cleaning, clutter, and let the sun and water warm and wash away any frustrations. I can relax and find myself doing that elusive “being in the moment” thing people talk about.
I’m not embarrassed to say I have no idea how to be a good parent in the summer without going to our pool. It’s our break, our fun, our time away. The kids learn to play (actually PLAY) with their friends or learn to play (really PLAY) with each other. Occasionally, I will even play (I know, PLAY!) with them too.
“The pool” is my answer when people ask what my plans are for the kids during these gloriously long, fun, slow, exhausting, fast, eternal weeks of the year. And when my child inevitably asks me if they can go to a camp next summer, I’ll say the same thing I’ve been saying for years:
The pool is your summer camp, baby.
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