I take Short to the pool. He is a wishful fish: wishing he could swim like his brother, but that minor complication of fear bordering on terror preventing him from becoming the beautiful racing fish I know he can be. I try I try I try but if I mess up I drown.
Motherhood is exactly the same, except instead of a wishful fish, I am a wishful magazine mom. I watch the magazine moms, perfect as an airbrushed/ re-touched magazine cover. These moms have swum in the deep end of the parenting pool for years, and now they make it look effortless. They obviously never yell at their children, nor do they forget to sign them up for soccer team before the deadline. They don’t watch TV, and their kids do crossword puzzles for fun.
Why can’t I be them? I wonder to myself as I search in my ripped tote bag for the SPF 50 sunblock and Speedo goggles that I forgot in the car yet again. A serene calm envelops the magazine moms as it simultaneously hits me over the head with the blunt edge of envy.
Bottled water? Check. Yogurt raisins? Check. BPA safe plastic dive toys not-made-in-China? Duh! Trendy flip-flops and a superior attitude? Double check! The magazine moms chat with each other, and it appears to me that they were born 35-years-old with two children. They were never young, they will never be old, they are just the happy-and-have-it-all-together mommies. They have it all under control, over control, beside control, and on top of control. Their maiden name is Control.
I write illegible little notes to myself in my special (non-waterproof) notebook: Swimming pool check-list! Laminated! Do it! Today!
This should be easy for a Virgo like me.
Short gets in the pool with his teacher for a private lesson. Her name is Miss Evelyn, and she smiles and says something amusing to him, making him laugh. He does what she tells him to and he no longer clings to the wall, like a stubborn barnacle. Instead, he pushes off the wall, his slippery body full of a confidence I have not seen before. Confidence that Miss Evelyn gave him, back on that first day when I handed her the check with “swim lessons” written in the memo section.
Where is my personal Miss Evelyn? I could use a boost of confidence in the mom skills department, and I would gladly take another check out of my wallet to make this happen. I constantly compare-compare-compare myself to the magazine mommies and come up lacking. I grip the side of the parenting pool with fear bordering on terror, preventing me from being the beautiful serene mommy I know I can be.
(“Mom On Verge”)