October 30, 2013
Editors note: This is the first of a new monthly column by Wendy Van Wagner that speaks to "enduring the pleasures of motherhood." It will be featured the fourth Thursday of every month in the Family Focus section.
This summer we walked to the pool Thursday afternoons for swim lessons. It was the highlight of Felix's day, and I have to say mine, too, although I just sat and watched him as he played in the water with his swim teacher, Paige.
After a busy day, I relish the time to simply sit and watch my son chatter on and exclaim with joy as he splashes around and gains confidence in the water.
We were not the only ones in the pool at this time of day. There were usually three or four older folks swimming for exercise, pleasure and I assume the social nature of being in the water with others.
I imagine that there is something about being in the perfectly warm water that makes them feel comfortable and safe, plus the added benefit of gentle exercise.
Several of the ladies greeted Felix by name when he entered the steamy indoor pool room. I wonder if they know all the children by name, but of course, I tell myself that they just know his name because of his magical personality and friendly demeanor.
As I leaned back into the generous hold of the blue, plastic Adirondack chair, I took a deep breath and relaxed. Felix jumped in the pool. I savored the time to notice everything around me.
I felt special, being the young mother of this joyful child that clearly brings light into the faces of the older generation sharing the pool.
I knew what they were thinking. They were recalling the fond memories they have from raising children of their own. Maybe they were feeling the faint pangs that come when your children are grown and you are reminded of the pure innocence that lives within youth.
I think some of them are just happy to observe a child from a comfortable distance, not having to endure the inevitable meltdowns and less than glowing daily moments on their own time.
Whatever they were thinking, I am reminded of this fleeting time in my own life while I am, as one of my favorite authors, Joyce Maynard says, "enduring the pleasures of motherhood."
Days end mostly with me being bone tired. This is a feeling I am used to by now, but it still surprises me that I can be this tired and this filled up at the same time.
I know I will one day be an old lady, maybe swimming in the pool and loving the moments of joy I get to experience when a happy child joins us for a swimming lesson, just glad to see that deep well of unfettered gladness in a young person.
For now, I will make a point to remember, as my dad says, whom I know misses the daily life of raising kids, "These ARE the good old days".
I changed into my bathing suit as Felix's lesson ended, and I jumped in the pool with him.
Freelance writer Wendy Van Wagner lives in Nevada City.