There’s a woman who takes her three boys to swim lessons every week who is an amazing source of encouragement to me. Her youngest is five years old and I get the impression that she looks upon me and Charles and Jamie both pityingly and wistfully – she’s been where I’ve been, and she looks survived.
I don’t even know her name, but she is one of the best parts about swim lessons for me. She always smiles encouragingly and comments about how her oldest was the easiest, or that you can take them to a half hour of swimming and they still have so much energy you don’t know what to do with them, or that she loves swim lesson day because they take showers at the Y and they don’t have to think about bathtime.
She looks great – fit and healthy and not aged and rundown by her boys the way I sometimes imagine I will look in a few years. She’s firm in her corralling of them and the boys seem to be genuinely good kids.
I want to be like her someday, looking back from a position of having been there, offering some other woman in the trenches of early motherhood a serene smile and a few well-placed comments indicating that it does get easier and even better with the passage of time. That having boys will continue to be an overwhelmingly energetic lifestyle but one that will always be fun.
Right now, I am the mom whose temper is short. Who is exhausted by 8 pm. Who is tired of disciplining for the same offenses day after day. Who can’t understand her 19-month-old when he is clearly upset and wants something specific but cannot communicate what that specific thing is. Who feels pulled in too many directions at once (Dinner! Work! Laundry! Dishes! Play with the kids! Read my book! Play with the dog! Exercise!) and isn’t giving proper attention to anything.
The fifteen minutes we spend in the locker room after swim lessons twice a week serve to remind me that others have gone before me and survived; surely I will, too, even if one kid won’t get out of the shower and the other kid is trying to run away. In the meantime, I’ll try to refocus my energy on enjoying my children and letting some other stuff slide. All they want for dinner is Mac N Cheese anyhow.