When I had my first baby, I planned all social events and outings around her.
Conflicts with naptime?
Hard to nurse there?
Overlaps with baby yoga?
Ten years later, I have four kids. And some perspective. And I certainly cannot ruin their summer by insisting that places that are not ideal for our newborn are off limits. Thus, a visit to the pool this past weekend. Pack lunch. Load floaties, towels, sunscreen, and what seems like luggage sufficient for a trip to Europe into the car, make sure everybody uses the bathroom, and we’re off.
Yeah, it sucks at the pool with a newborn, but as long as one parent is grounded in the shade with him, we’re golden.
When packing the (multiple) pool bags, my eldest asks if she should include my swimsuit. “Yes!” I shout down the stairs while I change a diaper, sounding confident, wondering if it will even fit past my thighs. I am two months postpartum, so you can imagine how fun it is to put on a swimsuit.
We arrive at the pool and it’s a thousand degrees. I mean, we live in the Middle East. It’s like Africa hot. I sit in the shade, fully dressed, waiting for the baby to wake up and nurse. I sweat buckets. I nurse him, and sweat more. The poor kid is drowning.
Once he’s calm and happy, I begin looking around at the other families; people watching is my favorite activity since I can do it sitting down, and my giant Jackie O sunglasses give away nothing, not even when I’m ogling the lifeguard.
Plenty of dads with dad bods and love handles are hanging out with their kids in the water. Plenty of moms are standing at the sides of the pool encouraging their little munchkins to swim a little farther. The dads are all wearing swim trunks, but the moms… they’re dressed. I mean, dressed like me. Next to the pool. In the pool. Swimming in t-shirts, shorts, tank tops, skirts, sarongs—all types of clothing, except for swimwear.
Some are wearing swimsuits with skirts. Some are wearing swimsuits covered by t-shirts, and some have given up completely and jumped in to play with their kids, fully dressed. I mean, wearing a DRESS.
I look on.
The only females wearing nothing but swimsuits at this pool on a hot summer day are under 15. They are barely teenagers and host no curves at all.
I fight the urge to be envious of a 14-year-old’s body.
My 10-year-old daughter screams from the pool, “Mommy! Come swim with me!”
Well, I’ll be damned. When did it become “against the rules” to don swimwear? I mean, my one-piece ain’t so pretty, and for sure not on a bod that built four people, but man, I’m not gonna sit on the sidelines or jump in the pool fully dressed and be uncomfortable (not to mention the sweating… oh, the sweating) in clothing that’s not appropriate for the water. For what? Shame? She is at a tenuous age and watches me like a hawk. She observes, she measures, she learns. Right this second, she’s approaching the age of body changes. We had an erection talk last week. Fun times.
What am I teaching her by demonstrating that curvy bodies must hide? That women do not wear swimsuits? That uninhibited splashing must be curbed when you hit double digits? The moms at that pool were every age, every size, and every single one of them was covered.
I chuck the baby at my husband and make my way to the dressing room. Breathe in, pull it up, arrange the boobs so they look less wonky, pull up the straps. Thank God swimsuits stretch.
I spend the next two hours in and out of the pool, nursing and trading the baby and the bigger kids with my husband, all while wearing nothing but my red, tattered one-piece.
Modeling is the last thing I expected to be doing two months postpartum. But here we are at the pool. Me in my red one-piece doing my best to model for my daughter that a bathing suit body comes in all shapes and sizes.