As a lifelong card-carrying member of several different Neighborhood Pools, I have had 35 years of experience observing a unique subset of our society; suburban moms, finally let out of their school-year cages, enjoying the freedom of Summer Break in their natural habitat. They are The Pool Moms.
No longer a mere observer of this culture, I have been accepted as one of the tribe. I've been a few of these moms in the seven summers I've spent as a Pool Mom. Which one are you?
The Swim Team Mom
This mom does not come to the pool as a leisure activity. Oh, no. For her, the pool is Strictly Business. In fact, Swim Team Mom doesn’t even bother to wear her bathing suit to the pool, as she is far too busy to go for a swim. She is running the snack bar or posting meet stats. She is making sure all Time Keeper positions for the upcoming meet have been filled (and she has your number if they’re not). She is making sure no casual pool user is using the lap lane for Marco Polo, as it is to be used solely for lap swim. She knows all of the life guards by name, and when she calls one of them, you’d best come running, son.
The Baby Pool Mom
Still in her private bubble (or, in this case, a literal fenced enclosure) of toddlerhood, this mom comes to the pool for Adult Conversation. Sitting on the edge of the Baby Pool, with her feet submerged in 12 inches of water of debatable pH balance, this mom can watch as her child attempts to empty the entire pool by dumping one tupperware container at a time onto the pool deck, while finally interacting with another adult...any adult. She is not picky. She will happily strike up a conversation with anyone else who enters the Baby Pool enclosure, including the life guards who come in to “check” the pH levels.
The Mom of Many Small Children
With a baby on her hip; a toddler in water wings, a life vest, and a floatie at water’s edge; and a preschooler splashing around with a pool noodle nearby, this mom’s not here for relaxation or adult conversation. Actually, she’s unlikely to engage in any conversation other than shouting reminders towards her children: “No, no, no! Stay here! Diving boards are for big kids.” or “Stop splashing your brother!” or “No, we’re not going to the snack bar.” or “I really wish you had told me you needed to use the potty while we were in there with your sister three minutes ago.” This mom has another motive in shlepping her kids (slippery from excessive, unevenly applied sunscreen), the toy bag, the towel bag, the diaper bag, and the snack bag to the pool each day: Nap Time. Ah, yes. There is little more cherished reward for a hard morning’s work at the pool than simultaneous afternoon nappers.
The Mom Who Thinks The Life Guards Are Babysitters
If you’ve ever been to a neighborhood pool, you already know this mom. This is the mom who also brings small children to the pool but, unlike the Mom of Many Small Children, she mistakenly believes that, once on Pool Property, they are no longer of her concern. Her children run on the pool deck, raid other people’s pool bags, take pool toys out of other children’s hands, splash with intention to annoy, and demonstrate otherwise obnoxious behaviors. The Mom Who Thinks The Life Guards Are Babysitters is in a chair, under an umbrella, reading a magazine, completely unaware of the havoc her little monsters are wreaking.
The Mom of Independent Swimmers
The Mom of Independent Swimmers enters the pool carrying a small tote, which holds only a book, a bottle of sunscreen, a water bottle, and a single towel. But she’s a Mom. Where’s the rest of her gear? you wonder. And then you see it: Her children are Carrying Their Own Shit. They drop their things onto a row of lounge chairs and then, she settles in with her book while the kids go off to swim. At break, the kids climb out of the pool, dry off, grab a snack out of their own bags, and (with a gentle reminder from Mom) reapply their sunscreen. This is Neighborhood Pool Nirvana. This is the Pool Mom the other Pool Moms watch, longingly, hoping to someday emulate.
The Absentee Mom
There will come a time, believe it or not, when your presence at the pool will not be necessary. Your newly-a-teenager will ask for a ride to the pool, where she is to meet her ten closest girlfriends (and some boys, too). You will drop her off, yelling a hurried “Don’t forget your sunscreen!” after her. You will look through the fence as she walks in without you and see the sweaty, harried Moms of Small Children as they slather sunscreen on wiggly little bodies and chase toddlers away from the edge of the pool. You will see the children who are whining about being too hot, too wet, too hungry, or too bored. You will see the look of exhaustion on their mothers’ faces. On witnessing the familiar scene, you will be filled with two equal emotions, two competing thoughts: “I remember those days. [sigh] It went by so fast,” and “Well! Looks like I’m just going to have to go home and watch my DVR’d Daily Show and drink my coffee All By Myself.”
As for me, I have taken my place alongside The Pinball Moms. With one kid playing in the shallow section, one kid practicing his cannonballs and dog-paddling in the 4-foot section, and one kid mustering up the courage to jump off the diving board, we are in constant motion. We are bouncing from one end of the pool to the other, monitoring our children’s safety while making sure we catch every jump and dunk and paddle (“Yes, honey! Of course I saw that! You were so brave!”). We are amazed by how big and independent our little fishies have already become, but damn: That lounge chair and a book look really good right about now.
'Tis the season, Moms! Can't wait to see you at the pool!