I am a whole lot of things that I never thought I would be.
I am a stay-at-home-mom. After earning a Master’s Degree in teaching and spending nine years in a special education classroom, I gave it all up to stay home and raise the girls 24-7.
I am a twin mom. One is never quite prepared for that news. The twin bomb wasn’t exactly pretty…but three years later here I am.
I am a writer. I actually get paid to write about my crazy little life and I love it. I still cannot bring myself to call myself a writer, but I suppose I am one nonetheless.
I am middle-aged. It hurt to even type that.
I am also a swim-mom. Oh yeah, our oldest daughter is a competitive swimmer and we are swim parents, something I didn’t see coming. I can barely back float and I hate getting my hair and face wet in the pool, yet our daughter is a damn fish. These days we spend our lives hanging at the local Natatorium, (that’s a fancy word for pool) and I am learning quite quickly that swim parents are unique creatures. Here is how to spot a fellow Swim Parent:
Swim parents refer to their children as one of the four basic swim strokes. They no longer use their child’s actual name when speaking with other swim parents and coaches.
“My daughter is a flyer.”
“My son is a distance swimmer, and primarily a breast-stroker (insert immature chuckle.)”
I think all sports parents cheer and yell for their kid during sporting events, but the swim parent does this a bit differently. If your son plays soccer you yell “run” “shoot” and “pass” over and over again. If your daughter plays softball then you are well versed in the terms “slide” “hold up” and “safe.” If you are a swim parent you scream GO a lot, other than that all other sounds that come from the peanut gallery are not in fact words, but more a string of strange guttural noises.
“HOY HOY HOY”
“HUP HUP HUP”
Swim parents are also the world’s loudest cheerers. We have to be extra loud because we are convinced that our children can hear us way down on the pool deck or while they are immersed under water. The rational me knows that my daughter can’t hear my howling, but I do it anyways.
“Did you hear me yelling for you honey?
“No mom. I can’t hear you.”
Well then, I am just going to have to scream louder next time, aren’t I?
We swim moms spend a sick amount of time carting our kids to and from practices and swim meets each week. The two-hour practices every other day are full of kick sets and stroke refinement drills.
These practices are quite possibly the most boring thing to witness on God’s great Earth. If you have had to endure sitting through your kid’s daily practice then you know what I am talking about here. As if practice wasn’t bad enough, the meets are downright torturous. We wake up at five am, drive an hour or two to the swim meet and slam back black coffee from little Styrofoam cups while waiting out warm-ups.
Next comes the real fun: four or five straight hours of stretching our aching backs and squirming around in the bleachers waiting for our kid’s event. Most meets are four hours long and your child swims a total of two minutes. We spend ten hours a week bored out of our minds to witness a couple of thirty-second races.
Why in the hell are we doing this to ourselves?
Swim parents don’t celebrate victories as other sporty parents do. There is no winning or losing in swim. We don’t give a rip about placement. We celebrate progress in milli-seconds. If our kid shaves two-hundredths of a second off of their 100 freestyle, we know it and we go freaking nuts over it. It is not uncommon to hear a parent say, “Oh, Kelly swims the 50 backstroke in 39.93 seconds.” Those fractions matter and we don’t mess around with them.
There are certain things that puts a swim parent into a Xanax-popping panic. Swim moms fret over missing their kid’s events like some people fret over missing the birth of their first born child. When you awake at the crack of dawn and drive across the state to watch your child swim for thirty seconds you better make damn sure they are on time.
Being late is not an option. We don’t even like to get up and go pee in fear of missing the 200 IM or the 100 Fly race. You can look around the stands at any given time and you will see at least five moms squirming and bouncing in their seats needing to pee so badly, but refusing to risk missing their kid’s next race.
A DQ is just about the most heart-wrenching thing a parent can witness at a swim meet. Imagine: your child practices hours upon hours a week, you drive them, you sit, you watch, you encourage them day in and day out. Then comes race day they make one illegal kick or stroke that disqualifies them. One itty bitty flutter of the leg and it all goes to hell. They are upset, you are upset and now you have to hold yourself back from jumping over the rails and pushing the official into the pool. How dare you disqualify my child you blind bat!
I am working myself into a rage just writing about disqualifications.
I am swim mom: hear me roar!