I remember as a child often wondering why my mom was so boring.
I’d stand at the edge of the Troy Municipal Swimming Pool, preparing to do a cannonball, and glance back to see her stretched out on a lounge chair, reading a book. Incomprehensible. Why would a person with functional arms and legs actually choose to sit solitary, reading, when all the excitement of an over-chlorinated and over-populated swimming pool lay ten feet away. Turds bobbing near the drainage spout and lip-locked teenagers wouldn’t deter me for a second. There was adventure to be had in those fluorescent blue waters.
I’d long given up trying to coax my mom to join me. “No, you go ahead and play with your friends. I’m just gonna sit here and read,” she’d respond with a smile. So off I’d run after my pals and make the mental promise that I would never be that way when I grew up.
Fast forward about 25 years and who is that woman in the matronly swimming suit, draped over a beach chair, dozing (and perhaps drooling) in the sun? Yep, it’s me.
Now I, like my mother so many years ago, sit on the beach, cursing the sand and pooh-poohing all the requests from my children to “help me make a sandcastle” or “splash in the water with me”. All the frivolity is simply too taxing for me. I hide under my sunhat, avoiding eye contact and playing deaf with anyone under the age of 20.
How did this happen? When did I make this evolution from the frolicking child to the boondocked mama? I’ll tell you exactly when it happened: 8 ½ years ago when I became the mother of a blue-eyed little baby boy. From that moment on, he, and our children that would follow him, slowly soaked up the child that I had been. In 24 years of life, I’d created quite a sea of energy, sleep, and creativity. And they, like 4 gigantic sponges, laid themselves upon my surface and started absorbing, till what is now left is a quickly evaporating puddle leftover after a mid-summer rain.
I love that the child in me is carried on in them. I smile as I watch their spindly, pale arms packing down buckets of wet sand to build castle walls the way I did decades ago. I laugh as they discover the warm thrill of peeing in the ocean, a tactic I often used to take the chill off the icy waves. Still, I look forward to the day when my puddle increases again as they, one by one, wring out their sponges to create a vast sea for children of their own, just as my mom created an ocean for me.
But until then, I'll tend my weary puddle with sun-bathed naps and ample sunscreen...and wait patiently for the rainy season.