Last night, in an attempt to blast away some workplace blues, Sean packed the girls and me into the car for open swim at the YMCA. We had one diaper bag stuffed to overflow with towels, a brush and warm, easy to pull on post swim clothes. Sean and Briar went to the pool for the first time earlier this week, so they stuck together once we arrived. I took Avery into the women’s locker room with me. Once I had stripped us both down to our suits I realized that I wasn’t keen on walking out into the hallway and traveling the 30 or so feet to the pool’s entrance. It’s one thing to bump into people in workout gear, but standing in a hallway in my bathing suit seemed, um, indecent? I scouted the locker room and failed to find another door. A woman walked in and I asked:
“Is there another way to get to the pool?”
She looked at me as if I’d asked her where I could find the YMCA.
“Um,” she spat with disgust as she hooked her thumb up over her shoulder and sneered, “The entrance to the pool is right there.”
“Oh, ok, I just didn’t know if you could walk straight in through the locker room.”
And then, I am not kidding when I say that she huffed.
“Huh-uhf,” she kind of grunted as she sidestepped me. Seriously, she moved sideways like I was one of those cartoony villains for that commercial about creatures living under your toenails.
“Ok, thanks.” I walked softly to the door, imagining a line of men from businesses downtown standing outside.
“Oh, hey. How’s it going? Yup, just taking the girls for a swim.”
Of course I’d blush because it would seem that since I only had Avery, then by saying “girls” I was referring to my assets and not my daughters.
“You know, ah, my girls, Briar and Avery.” Like I name them.
“My daughters, Briar and Avery. Swimming.”
I’d keep walking, pretending to need to face them as I talked so that I didn’t take 20 steps away from them with the edges of my cheeks peeking out from the back of my suit. Don’t get me wrong, I actually feel pretty good about how my ass looks, that is until we start talking about walking with it almost uncovered by men who have never even seen my elbows. I managed to overcome my wild insecurities about being seen in the Y in a bathing suit to find my way to the pool.
Sean and Briar were already in the water. Avery and I walked over to them, past what seemed an inordinate number of people not wearing bathing suits. Perhaps I have a phobia about wearing a swimming suit indoors, I don’t remember this kind of worry when we’ve been at the lake. It wasn’t long before Avery’s head bopping and squealing got the better of me. I began laughing and exclaiming right along with her. So great was her delight at being in the water with us, that she managed to win over even the grouchy “No kick boards during rec swim!” life guard.
“She’s really cute,” the young woman said between scowls and barking at other swimmers.
Briar positively beamed as she swam around with Sean. It was incredible to watch them, usually clinging to me, she instead wrapped her arms around Sean. This was their playground, they were sharing with us. My heart soared. I focused on Avery unapologetically. No guilt. Just joy and sweet kisses and splashes with my baby. It’s been a whole lot of trial and error with two, but right then in the pool, it was one of the perfect moments. Thank you world.
After a while both girls were beginning to look otherworldly as their lips purpled and their sparkling eyes became eclipsed by slightly shivering shoulders. I said I thought it was time to go. Sean and Briar kept swimming while I retrieved the bag, leaving a diaper and two towels behind. I wrapped Avery in a towel and did my best to hold a towel against my own wet body.
Once in the locker room I realized that no matter how easy the clothes were to pull on, the tiles on the floor were very hard and there were large areas of standing water. I didn’t want to leave Avery in a wet suit, nor did I want to change her and have her get her dry clothes soaked. What to do, what to do. I thought maybe we could do a back and forth:
Take off Avery’s suit
Wrap her in a towel
Take off my suit
Wrap myself in a towel
But I realized that if I set Avery down it would have to be on my towel and forgive me all the vain tendencies emerging in this post, but I did not want to be the woman that gets talked about in the middle school:
“And oh my god, she like totally stood there naked. It was so gross and then she bent over and I was like could you please cover yourself up or whatever?”
No, that wouldn’t do at all. I decided to get Avery completely changed. Her damp limbs made pulling her pants on nearly impossible, that was until I got to her shirt. That was when I discovered just what impossible really was. Her head fit through the neck hole only after considerable tugging and twisting. Then her arms, the left getting stuck in the body of the shirt, the right getting folded, with her elbow poking out. I honestly feared that I would fracture something as I grunted and pulled. Two thoughts ran through my head over and over again:
“Thank god I’m not naked and please god don’t let me break her arm.”
Eventually we got the shirt on. I let her crawl around sockless after I toweled the floor off with my own towel. I quickly dressed, desperately trying to keep my ass backed up to the lockers and my breasts and face masked by my arms and hair. I am sure that I was quite a vision of grace and poise. Avery nearly escaped twice as I tried to untwist my camisole which was firmly stuck an inch above the parts I was looking to cover. I darted over in time to grab her feet as they started to disppear under a dressing room partition. After what felt like 30 minutes we made our way out into the hallway. I was a little embarassed by how long it had taken me to get us dressed and hoped Sean had found the stuff I’d left for him.
We went over to peek into the pool area. No sign of them. I walked Avery up and down the hall as we waited. The smell of the pool in her hair and the kisses she gave me made me feel incredible. I was so proud to not be parked in front of Entertainment Tonight. A few minutes later Sean and Briar came out. Sean smiled at me as I knelt down to pick up the diaper bag.
“That was hard.” I said.
“Getting Avery dressed.”
“Try it with a room full of penises.”
“I said try it with a room full of penises.”
I kind of laughed and shook my head.
“Aren’t guys a little more modest? Don’t they keep their backs turned?”
“They’re penises. She’s 2 and half. What’s that? What’s that? ooh, Daddy, what’s dat right dere?“
Life isn’t perfect, but playing back, “Try it with a room full of penises,” makes a lot of it much easier to deal with.