It’s with a small amount of motivation and a big ol’ dose of sheer guilt that I drag myself and the mighty Quinn to her swim class every week. It’s painful (for me, not Quinn, of course. What kind of mother do you think I am?). All the swimsuit-ing and flip-flopping and toweling just to splash around for 30 minutes in water with a temperature I’d imagine is comparable to the insides of the ice cubes in our home freezer. In each class, we do the Hokey Pokey. We pretend to drop the babies off the ledges into the water (what does Quinn think the whole time I’m doing that, by the way? Whee! I get to play in the bubbles! or Holy crap, what’s my mother trying to do to me?!). We walk up and down the length of the pool a few times while our babies chew away at mildew-filled rubber duckies. And then we turn ourselves around.
Now, I realize that there are better swim lessons out there. But the lassie’s only 10 months old, you know. And really, the only reason I’m taking Quinn to the classes is because I took Saoirse at her age. And even though I know she’s not actually going to learn to swim (again, she can’t even crawl yet…), and all she really does is the same kind of play she’d normally do, just immersed in 60-degree liquid, it’s our time together. It is the one half-hour a week (well, hour, if you count how long it takes me to wrestle both of us out of wet swimsuits and into a dry diaper–again, just Quinn. Not me) that I get to focus totally and solely on her. I’m comfortable because her big sis is at our house with her Gram, and I get to just concentrate on Quinn and every single “ya-dah-dah-DAHHH!” that comes out of her mouth. It’s some kind of precious time together. Even if our lips are turning blue in the process.
The first time around–when Quinn was just a soul in God’s hands, and Saoirse was the one I was dunking up and down in a pool on Monday mornings–it was my first mommy-and-me type of class. I was just dipping my toe into the (Careful: massively obvious metaphor coming up here) waters of full-time motherhood, and that class was a chance to meet some new moms and make some friends. And I did. At the end of those weeks I exchanged contact info with two women with whom I’m still close. I was lucky, and that first swim class served its purpose, both for Saoirse and for me. But this time around, I chat with the other moms, smile at their children, but really–and maybe selfishly–I just want to focus on Quinn. My only goal is to soak her up, learn all these new sounds and expressions she’s been trying to show me. I don’t have to worry about anything else but her during that time, and I protect those moments greedily, territorially. Even if it means I’m not seeking out another goose bump-covered momma to ask her how old her baby was when he first started saying “dada.”
So that’s the way it will be this time around. I groan each week at home as I pack up the over-large tote bag with towels and swim diapers. But after each class, I often find myself buckling Quinn into her car seat with a dopey smile on my face. Sometimes the momma guilt can be a good motivator, I guess. I doubt I’ll walk out of the last class with anybody’s email this time, but that’s okay. I only planned on getting to know one person during these classes. Even if we are shivering as we do.