Yesterday was Mia’s final day of swim lessons. Hallelujah is all I have to say about that.
As a typical first time mom I was beyond excited to finally enroll Mia in swim lessons. I even considered those crazy classes that they do for infants where you actually dunk them underwater at like 2 days old and nobody calls child protective services (hopefully).
Unfortunately I couldn’t find any of those in Maine so I patiently waited until she was old enough to enroll in regular baby “swim” class.
The problem with swimming classes for infants is that infants can’t swim. Not even the super advanced kids who are walking at 6 months and perform mozart at Mommy and Me Music Time. But every first time parent knows that their kid WILL NEVER SUCCEED IN LIFE if they aren’t introduced to swimming before their first birthday so they not only agree, but actually PAY MONEY to get in a cold pool with their small child at 830am every Saturday morning (even during winter) and shuffle around bouncing, blowing bubbles, begging, pleading and usually bribing their child not to scream bloody murder.
Typically there are a couple hungover high schoolers in the pool as well, mostly to make sure none of the parents drown themselves on purpose to avoid having to come to the next swim lesson.
The worst part of swim lessons, though, isn’t being in the pool. It’s getting out of the pool and back to the car. Not one of my advanced mommy friends warned me about this, and for that, I will never forgive them.
I showed up with Mia to the first day of swim lessons with a meticulously packed bag that included water bottles, diapers, multiple bathing suits, a baby wet suit, flip flops, towels, extra socks, shoes, sweatshirts, toys….you get the point. If the 30 minute swim lesson turned out to be a guided ocean swim to Cuba, we were prepared.
As I was attempting to shove my oversized duffle bag into a rusty locker, Mia disappeared into the showers. Maybe one with someone in it, who knows.
After retrieving Mia, her clothes now sopping wet, I attempted to undress myself modestly, pull on a one piece bathing suit, and fit the clothes I was already wearing into the already overstuffed locker. By this point Mia was back in the showers.
I looked around at the other baby swim lesson parents searching for at least a knowing glance – but nope, they’d arrived with their suits already on under their clothes and were simply removing their shoes and heading for the door.
Even after correcting my rookie mistake of not arriving with our suits already on I managed to one day forget to bring towels, another day forget dry clothes for Mia (she went home in my jacket and a diaper), and EVERY SINGLE CLASS I managed to forget a plastic bag for our wet suits.
I am so not cut out for swim lessons.
But even the parents with their shit relatively together appear to have not yet devised a strategy for getting both baby and mommy out of the pool, into dry clothes and back into the car without a major meltdown (typically a mom meltdown, but sometimes sometimes the baby freaks out too).
Imagine this: swim lessons are over and you’re standing in the shallow end with a screaming baby that is, despite crying the entire swim lesson to get out of the pool, now screaming that they don’t want to leave. You hoist the soaking wet, screaming, flailing child onto the side of the pool, and in the 3 seconds it takes to pull yourself out (lets be real, though, by “pull yourself out” I mean roll onto the side of the pool like a beached whale) your screaming toddler is already running along the perilously wet and slippery tiles toward the deep end.
So you chase after them, wrangle them into a towel and shuffle them into the locker room, praying you picked the right one (Women’s, Mom’s with Sons, Dad’s with Daughters, Men’s). You debate a quick shower to rinse off the chlorine but decide against it because with the amount of toddler germs in that pool and all over this locker room, you probably need the chlorine for protection.
So next you decide who’s getting dry first. Most of the other moms choose to dry their toddlers off first, because, you know, they don’t want them to get pneumonia or something. But, being a realist, you know that the likelihood of pneumonia is much less than the likelihood of your child rolling around in the showers in her dry clothes while you try to pull a sports bra over wet boobs. So instead you sit your shivering baby in a nasty locker room floor puddle and hope it keeps her entertained long enough to pull on a sweatshirt and pants.
Now comes the part where you have to remove a sticky bathing suit from a soaking wet and very irritable
chimpanzee child. Once the bathing suit is removed, you can begin the one mile fun run through the locker room trying to track down your naked offspring. Bonus points if they pee in a drain.
Once you get their diaper on, you find a dry place for them to sit (hahaha) so you can dress them. Five minutes later, you abandon ship, put their jacket on over their diaper, throw all the clothes into the duffle bag and run for the car, hoping you can get out of the parking lot before someone calls CPS to let them know a parent is bringing a wet child into 20 degree weather without any pants.
By the time you get home, the whole ordeal has taken more than an hour – which is double the length of the actual swim lesson.
And then next week, like a true first time parent, you voluntarily endure the whole thing again.
By the time the series of swim lessons you purchased are over, you feel so confident in your child-wrangling abilities that you sign up for the next session. And your precious baby is one step closer to not being even relatively close to knowing how to swim at all.
This, my friends, is what we moms (and dads) refer to as the
requirements joys of parenthood.