Ah, sweet, sweet summertime. To countless moms all over the world, you are the embodiment of a long-awaited exhale. You herald the arrival of blissfully unscheduled days, afternoons spent lazing by the pool, and evenings that seem to stretch until dawn. These moms revel in your freedom, bask in your warmth, and become absolutely intoxicated by the opportunity to spend endless amounts of unencumbered “quality time” with their children. Well, I’m real happy for them and all, but I’ve gotta be honest here: Summer, your arrival makes me want to puke. Hi, my name is Elizabeth, and I hate summers. Here’s why:
Summers mean sunscreen. Can I just tell you how much I dread putting sunscreen on my children? Don’t get me wrong—I do it. Oh boy, do I do it! The amount of wrangling, wrestling, and cajoling I endure to apply sunscreen to my incessantly squirmy children is surely enough to qualify me for a black belt in sumo wrestling, if that’s even a thing. But I apply that sunscreen to every square millimeter of their body several times a day when we’re out because the one thing worse than convincing them to submit to sunscreen application is watching them suffer through the discomfort of a sunburn. If there’s ever been an undeniable affirmation of the crushing power of mom guilt, it’s found in having to explain to your sunburned child why their shirt is suddenly making their little pink shoulders hurt.
Trips to the pool are a beatdown. Unless you are one of the lucky ones who has a pool in her backyard, I think we can all agree that trips to the pool are laborious at best. By the time I’m finished packing for a pool trip, I might as well have packed a steamer trunk for a two-week European tour because that’s exactly how much stuff I’m schlepping with me. From pool toys to snacks to swim diapers to sunscreen to towels and beyond, I usually end up carrying two bags simply because our stuff won’t fit into one. And these ain’t dainty little handbags I’m talking about, ladies. As we approach the pool, there is no denying I look like a pack mule lumbering towards the mirage of water after an exhausting journey through a desert tundra. And for the record, that’s pretty much how I feel, too.
And if the packing isn’t enough to do you in—which it should be—how about all the deeeelightful unpleasantries that can happen to you, a mom just trying to do her best, at the pool? Here are my personal faves.
- Poop in the pool. I’m no novice to this phenomenon, so I can tell you it will generally take one of two forms. Either the poop will float to the top of the pool, very clearly indicating that someone has dropped some tiny little Raisinets bombs in that space where Raisinets bombs should not be dropped, or it will take the “beach fairy” form. Beach fairy poop occurs when you suddenly realize there is a bunch of sand in what was just a few minutes ago a very clear pool. Perplexed and searching for answers that make more sense than believing a beach fairy just dusted the area with pixie sand, you will peek inside your child’s diaper to find the motherload of smelly sandcastles. Poop left to marinate in a swim diaper for extended periods of time will turn into “sand,” ladies. So if you didn’t know, now you know. You’re welcome.
- Vomit in the pool. I find vomit in the pool to be a bit more taboo than poop in the pool because, let’s face it, everybody poops. It is assumed, however, that only sick kids vomit. So when your child vomits in the pool, the presumption is that you knowingly brought a sick kid to the pool. Shame on you. Visible and scathing scorn from strangers will likely ensue. And unlike poop in the pool—which, if you’re crafty, you can subtly frame another child for—vomit in the pool usually very clearly and audibly comes from only one unmistakable perpetrator.
- Your child forgetting to have a censor. Pools are generally prime time for inappropriate and embarrassing toddler stream-of-consciousness jabbering. Who among us hasn’t been mortified to be on the receiving end of the across-the-pool announcement of: “Mommy, I just tee-teed in the pool. Is that OK?” And how about this one: “Mommy, why does that man have boobies like yours?” And let’s not forget the oldie but goody: “Look, Mommy, she has a baby in her tummy too!” Cue the mortification.
- Your child pulling down your bathing suit. Kids can be a little wobbly and also a little undiscerning about what they choose to latch onto for support. If you’re in a pool with your kids, nine times out of ten they will view your bathing suit as their own personal lifeline. On a good day, they’ll just pull your top down. It’s like Mardi Gras without the beads. On a bad day, they’ll reach for your bottoms. While you’re standing up. In the kiddie pool. Then it’s like Mommies Gone Wild. Without the alcohol to dull your shame.
Coming home from the pool is a beatdown. If there’s ever been a time for prayer, it’s just before you tell the kids it’s time to get out of the pool to head home. The whining that will ensue can be enough to bring even the sturdiest mommy to her knees. And after you’ve somehow managed to convince your little water babies to put their soggy bottoms into their scorching carseat, you probably will be tempted to drive around the block for a few hours until Daddy gets home and can help you deal with the aftermath that is sure to ensure. Cranky children, hungry tummies, wet bathing suits, hair needing to be brushed…the list of to-dos is nothing short of crippling. Did I mention it’s only 3:00 in the afternoon?
Your children still need to eat in the summer. Apparently it’s not enough that you have to entertain your children during each and every day of the summer, you have to actually feed the little rascals, too. Is it just me, or does anyone else not enjoy slaving over a hot stove in the middle of a 100-degree summer afternoon after spending the day chasing your ungrateful, unruly children around a urine-infested pool? And to be honest, it’s not just the cooking that gets me, but also kids’ never-ending desire to snack. You really can’t fathom how much you appreciate your preschool’s daily provision of snacks until you are the one having to dole them out every few hours for the duration of summer. With all the technological marvels that have been invented in our lifetime, is it really asking too much that someone expend some energy creating a robot that can dispense a properly portioned and nutritionally adequate snack to our children every couple of hours? Pretty please?
Perhaps the real issue is that, like so many things in our life, summers just aren’t the same once you become a parent. When I think about “summers,” I still remember what summers used to be before kids. They involved never-ending pool parties minus the vigilant monitoring to make sure no one is drowning, lingering, sangria-filled dinners on the patio of trendy restaurants, and mornings wasted away dealing with the hangovers that those pool parties and lingering dinners created. Life was good. Life was lazy. Life was fun. Summers with children can be fun, but from my perspective anyway, it’s a different kind of fun. The kind of fun that might just leave you scratching your head and wondering, Did I actually shave my legs for this?