It’s a season weighed down with kid chaos brought on by never-ending play-dates and sleep-overs that always seem to be at your house.
Summer carries a burden.
The pressure is on to make if “the best summer ever” or the “summer you’ll always remember.” The same pressure is never applied to the other big 3. I’ve never once thought, “Wow, I hope this will my families best spring yet.”
The summer hype is everywhere. There’s being “bikini ready” and “10 Tips to Make Your Summer Sizzle.” I don’t recall ever seeing magazines or TV shows proclaiming how to get your “body ready for winter sweater weather” or in tip-top shape for wearing woolen mittens. No one has ever once asked me, “Did you have an incredible autumn?”
But, you have to make sure you’ve got your summer b.s. ready so from Labor Day and beyond you can recite your “Yes, I had an awesome summer” story in 30 words or less to everyone you see up at the soccer field and the grocery store.
In the winter I envision the joys of summer. In my mind it’s a combination of a Kodak moment, a Hallmark Card and a Tommy Hilfiger ad where my family is all decked out in a whimsical preppy motif. I see my husband and I standing in the front yard, wearing matching sky blue linen shirts. My head is on his shoulder. His hand is on my back and nowhere in this vision are either of us sweating.
Our sun-kissed children are frolicking under the night sky catching fireflies. Their joyful laughter singsongs through the neighborhood. Their golden hair is gently ruffled by a night breeze with a full moon following them like an angelic spotlight.
I’m watching them play, counting my blessings that I was gifted with such a photogenic and blissful family and right then my husband pulls me in his arms and gives me a kiss that is ripe with his everlasting passion for me. I swoon into his strong body and relish the feel of his erect biceps caressing my skin that’s awakening to his masculine glory.
Then my children gracefully leap over to us (like young deer) and we all unite in a group hug that symbolizes a family bonded by love, exceptional good looks and exquisite taste.
In real life this is how it goes down. My linen shirt would be stuck to my body with a sweat enhanced super glue and if my husband touched my back his hand would be permanently adhered to my torso flab until someone got a spatula from the kitchen to scrape it off. My kids, if I could lure them outside and away from their technology, would be complaining about the nighttime parade of insects that bite, and my son would call the catching of fireflies the first step on the path to a becoming a serial killer. My daughter would then trip on a sprinkler head, gash her leg so badly that I would have to use a beach towel as a tourniquet and rush her to the E.R.
Regardless of this reality, you still have to attempt to bring your A game in the summer. For God’s sake you don’t want your kids on the first day of school to write their 5 paragraph theme on “What I Did Over Summer Break” to include such highlights as eating cereal for lunch because my mom said she was “tried of waiting on us and it’s about time we learned to make our own freaking food,” listening to my mother scream, “Close the door I’ve got the air on” and swimming so much the lifeguards started calling us “pool zombies.”
As for the pool, the allure of swimming wears off about two weeks after July 4th. That’s about the time the water heats up to 98 degrees and my kids start complaining that they’re “swum out.”
No amount of pool toys or lethal looking water cannons can help up their enthusiasm for the summer savior – known as the City Pool. That means you have to start shelling out $40 per kid for the Waterpark and you know what a Waterpark means? You really have to watch your children. You can’t read your Us Magazine and glance at them every couple of minutes. For safety’s sake, it’s your butt in the wave pool on high drown and pedophile alert and your belly flab bouncing with vigor down a curly tube slide for 8 long hours. Your only salvation is the funnel cakes.
I try to shake off some of the summer panic. Why, there’s that vacation to look forward too and the recently reduced margarita maker I bought with my Kohl’s cash. But, just when I’ve got the power of positive thinking working I slip on the pile of flip-flops my daughter left in the hall, wipe out, and watch my mango margarita, which I’ve yet to take a sip of, make like a slinky and start shape shifting down the stairs.
The best way for me to handle summer, I found, is with a full frontal assault. You’ve got to kick in the butt starting Memorial Day weekend. It all begins with that first trip to the pool. I dread it like a visit to the gynecologist. I pull my swimsuit on and yank my body parts this way and that in attempt to minimize the truth. I then put on a chin to toe cover up, grab the pool bag and head out the door. I knew this day would come and yet, I had always hoped when it did I’d be at least 20 pounds lighter.
When I get to the pool and begin the hunt for a place to perch I feel like a dead man walking. I’m know eventually I’m going to have take off the cover up and get in the water. This is when I have to give myself the pep talk of the year and tell summer and all the body image issues it brings up to shove it.
I yank off that cover up, fling my flip-flops and I boldly march to the edge of the pool and jump in. Because my body, in all it’s fatitude, is all mine. The flab, the spider veins which give my legs a Rand McNally map look (truly I have the Mississsippi river and all its tributaries mapped out on my thighs), the cellulite, it’s my life story.
Watch me, I’m waving and now I’m doing an enthusiastic flutter kick at those moms perched on the pool chaises, still wearing their cover ups, sitting on the sidelines too caught up in their own body misery to get wet.
I am a life-giving goddess and fat be damned I will swim all summer long!
Oh and those middle-aged moms in their bikinis and navel piercings with their perfect blonde hair that like to strut the perimeter of the pool in all their glory – they can shove it too.
Go ahead, judge my fatness, talk about my heft and giggle at my nonexistent glutes. Do your worst because I’m the winner here. I’m in the one in the water with my kids! To put an exclamation point on my greatness I get out of the pool, climb the high dive ladder, flex my cankles and do my signature cannon ball, which is a lot like me – big and not afraid to make some noise. Because baby, I’ve got summer right were I want her – wet and with me in control.
Bring it summer. I’m ready!