Friday, September 19, 2008

The Swim Moms

When Sophie was about 6 months old, we began taking Mommy and Me swim classes. Our swim school was pretty flexible on what session each week you attended, so I tried out a couple of different days. First I tried the Tuesday group and found it was headed up by a woman with crazy eyes, so I tried the Thursday group, which turned out was full of moms who wore full make-up (no lie) and jewels into the pool. Not being the sort to break the family heirlooms out of the safe deposit box just to impress a bunch of ladies I didn't know, I opted to try another day. That's how I landed on the Wednesday 10:30 class. Although "class" is a huge overstatement. At that age, I don't really believe she was learning how to swim. I, however, was gaining critical knowledge of the words to some crucial nursery rhymes and children's songs that were sung as we dragged our babies around the pool. Not surprising that in a life or death environment like that, you forge some pretty strong bonds. Thus, core group was formed.

This summer, we all decided to discontinue the classes until fall as most of us had access to outdoor pools. However, we have stayed in touch and get together quite a bit. Neil says we're our own little gang and he calls us The Swim Moms. You must say those three words with a deep, ominous tone. We are all stay at home moms that live within close proximity to each other and have children within a couple of months of the same age. I'm not ashamed to admit that before I found these gals, I was pretty lonely. Being a stay at home mom can be isolating. I can't imagine how women of eras past did it.

Imagine living on a farm a hundred, hell, fifty years ago. No internet, no television, and likely as not, no telephone. I guess that's part of why farm families were always so large. You needed the company. Well, that and not much else to do but make babies. My own grandpa was one of 14 children. Just contemplating being pregnant 14 times, all singles, is absolutely mind-boggling to me. It is also likely that there was a miscarriage or two in there. Imagine the heartbreak. And going through it basically by yourself. The strength of these women shames me. It makes me think that I am soft. That I never would have had the fortitude to survive those long, lonely days while the men were out working in the fields. I know there was plenty to keep them busy, but that is a far cry from interactions with other people.

I often feel like I was born in the wrong time, that my personality is suited to medieval times or the renaissance or even the early part of this century. Just about every era holds intrigue for me, for one reason or another. But the truth is that I am a child of my times. I live and breathe the luxuries that we have come to expect. I would have wilted under the restraints placed on women in years past. My independence and intelligence (such as it is) would have been enough to make me an outcast at best, and likely the target of a witch hunt at worst.

I guess the bottom line is how grateful I am for my swim moms. And I am really glad I don't live on a farm in the 1800s.


  1. So true about Mom's of past generations! I always thought I'd have liked to live in Little House on the Prarie times....but truth be told..I'd never survive. I like my coffee brewing in the AM, my blowdryer, and my AC....just to name a few things.

    It's great that you found your Swim Moms...being a SAHM can be lonely sometimes...especailly if most of your neighborhood women work.

  2. I soooo wanted to be Laura Ingalls Wilder when I was a girl. But recently I have thought how hard it really was. Spending all witer sitting in a one room house in the middle of a prairie, no one for a hundred miles except your three sisters and parents. Yikes! I too am sometimes lonely at home with Christopher, its just fun to have someone to share mommy experiences. Maybe I'll join a mommy swim group! I tried joining a Bel Air Mommies group and I had a hard time finding a group that were "my people". Ah well, try and try again

  3. Amen, sister. I've said it a million times...I would die. There's a reason God put me in the century that He did. Your swim mommy group sounds like such fun! We all need our "peeps".

  4. I guess I'm soft too because there is no way I'd survive farm life or 14 kids! Swim class/Moms sound fun. I've been debating what age would be good to start the (as yet unborn) little one with swim lessons.

  5. I can't imagine living in a different time. I don't know that life is better nowadays, but it is different. And I'm fond of the differences and conveniences.

  6. Oh, I wish I had "swim moms" here. I'm a swim mom...but in my own pool, with my own kids. And the occasional guest.

    There are very, very, very few SAHMs in my town. It makes me sad. But thank God for bloggy pals!

  7. Kathi - I do wish that I knew more of the moms in my neighborhood, or even if there are any, but so far no luck.

    Katie - I was actually kind of thinking of you, too, when I wrote this because although you're not technically one of the swim moms, I kind of associate you with them for some reason. We're planning on taking the class again, probably the same time. I definitely recommend it!

    Heather - There's no doubt about it, I am meant for this century. One word: outhouse.

    Bailey - We started at 6 months, but I've seen younger babies. Wait and see what your bundle of joy's temperament is like and then decide. I make fun, but it is a good time.

    Ronnica - I have to agree, I don't necessarily think things are better today, I think we've lost some things, but I would DIE without my computer.

    Lula - I wish you lived closer because I think we'd have a ball! And Amen on the thanks for bloggy pals!

  8. I'm so glad you've found a good group of gals to 'play' with. I've made a few close friends in the past year and Nerdfish jokes about me having friends now.

    It would have been REALLY hard back in the day. I guess you are right about feeling like you couldn't survive back then but I try to justify it in some way. I feel like if I had of grown up in a different time without so many luxuries, it would have been easy to live without as well. But then I look at myself and think "what a primadonna!" LOL

    Who knows -I'm glad I live in today and I'm glad I'm enjoying it ;>

    When do ya'll get back into the swing of things with the Mommy-n-me classes since summer is closing?

  9. I've definitely daydreamed about living in medieval times, but I'm pretty happy with the era I'm in right now :] I mean honestly, what's life without blogging? Just think about what a huge sense of community this provides... !

    I really need some girls to hang out with. I've not really looked into many pre-natal classes at this point, since I'm only 19 weeks, but maybe it's time to start...

  10. I think that those relationships that you make with Moms when your child is very small are just so special and I agree the isolation is really difficult.

    We did swimming too. Unfortunately my daughter hated it so we didn't last long.

  11. I'm with you on the living and breathing the luxuries of today... but maybe we can figure out a way to dress in those awesome medieval/renaissance outfits and keep our luxuries too.

  12. Over the past 18 months, I've gained a whole new respect for SAHMs. Its the toughest job out there, and I can honestly say I'm not sure I could handle it.

    I'm fortune to reap the benefits of a job that I enjoy, and they worked with me to come back PT after Carley was born. I love my time with her, but I love time with my co-workers/friends.

    God bless you!

  13. Nik - The classes run in continuous six week sessions. I'll probably get back in the next round since the pools are all closed and the weather is starting to cool down.

    Verygoodyear - I think I started pre-natal classes at 26 weeks. Our class was very small, only two other couples and we have remained friends with them, getting together from time to time. One of the moms and I get together once a month for lunch to catch up.

    Debateur - Luckily Sophie really took to the water, but we're also exploring other activites, maybe Gymboree, for this fall.

    Journey to Family - Seriously, if people wouldn't think I was weird, I would totally wear the renaissance outfits! I love the Renaissance Fair - all that food and frivolity, not so much the port-o-potties, though.

    Chrissie - My job offered me the opportunity to go PT when I had Sophie, but I'm an all or nothing gal and I knew that my PT would turn into FT in no time. So, I chose to stay home. Some days ARE really tough, but mostly I am really happy with my decision.

  14. Hang onto those friends. They will become your lifeline in the coming winter months.

    Oh, and eras past had less socializing because they had more WORK! Can you imagine the work involved in just feeding/cleaning/cooking/for a regular home in 1800? Let alone a large family on a farm in the winter? Shuddering over here...

  15. Oh, man, it's great to have connections with other moms and know you're not going through the same parenting issues alone.

  16. How nice that you have that group of moms to get together with--I'm jealous!

    My MIL grew up on a farm (not in the 1800s!--but like in the 1920s-30s) and she does have some very cool stories to tell. She rode a little pony cart to her one-room school house. Wild!!

  17. I hear ya. I love my modern day luxuries. And I love being a stay at home mom, but it is lonely. Having been through fertility, I feel I can't complain because "this is what you wanted" comes out if I even sigh heavy. It's hard for me to get out with two. I can't do swimming lessons and even play groups are challenging when you are corralling both at once. So I hear ya loud and clear. Maybe it will be different when they can talk. Maybe it will be harder different though. Oh hell I don't know.

  18. The Bub and I have done all kinds of activities--from music class to Gymboree to everything on offer at our park district--but for whatever reason, I haven't found my own "swim moms" yet. I do have mommy friends and we do have playdates, but I had always hoped I would find a nice group of local moms. I still hope it happens!

    I say treasure your modern conveniences and your swim moms!

    What appeals to me most about the "olden days" is the perception that there were always biscuits to eat. I love biscuits.


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