When Sophie was about 6 months old, we began taking Mommy and Me swim classes. Our swim school was pretty flexible on what session each week you attended, so I tried out a couple of different days. First I tried the Tuesday group and found it was headed up by a woman with crazy eyes, so I tried the Thursday group, which turned out was full of moms who wore full make-up (no lie) and jewels into the pool. Not being the sort to break the family heirlooms out of the safe deposit box just to impress a bunch of ladies I didn't know, I opted to try another day. That's how I landed on the Wednesday 10:30 class. Although "class" is a huge overstatement. At that age, I don't really believe she was learning how to swim. I, however, was gaining critical knowledge of the words to some crucial nursery rhymes and children's songs that were sung as we dragged our babies around the pool. Not surprising that in a life or death environment like that, you forge some pretty strong bonds. Thus, core group was formed.
This summer, we all decided to discontinue the classes until fall as most of us had access to outdoor pools. However, we have stayed in touch and get together quite a bit. Neil says we're our own little gang and he calls us The Swim Moms. You must say those three words with a deep, ominous tone. We are all stay at home moms that live within close proximity to each other and have children within a couple of months of the same age. I'm not ashamed to admit that before I found these gals, I was pretty lonely. Being a stay at home mom can be isolating. I can't imagine how women of eras past did it.
Imagine living on a farm a hundred, hell, fifty years ago. No internet, no television, and likely as not, no telephone. I guess that's part of why farm families were always so large. You needed the company. Well, that and not much else to do but make babies. My own grandpa was one of 14 children. Just contemplating being pregnant 14 times, all singles, is absolutely mind-boggling to me. It is also likely that there was a miscarriage or two in there. Imagine the heartbreak. And going through it basically by yourself. The strength of these women shames me. It makes me think that I am soft. That I never would have had the fortitude to survive those long, lonely days while the men were out working in the fields. I know there was plenty to keep them busy, but that is a far cry from interactions with other people.
I often feel like I was born in the wrong time, that my personality is suited to medieval times or the renaissance or even the early part of this century. Just about every era holds intrigue for me, for one reason or another. But the truth is that I am a child of my times. I live and breathe the luxuries that we have come to expect. I would have wilted under the restraints placed on women in years past. My independence and intelligence (such as it is) would have been enough to make me an outcast at best, and likely the target of a witch hunt at worst.
I guess the bottom line is how grateful I am for my swim moms. And I am really glad I don't live on a farm in the 1800s.