Today was a work-out center day. Which means that instead of waking up at 6:30am to run before the girls were awake, I didn’t get up until 7am. And we all go to the work-out center together where I will run, shower, and get dressed by myself, or something humanizing like that.
It was also Tuesday which means that the pool is open and I try to take the girls there after my workout is done once a week as a sort of bribery/good job you survived the childwatch program today.
Tuesdays are slower days and usually it’s just us and a collection of our gray-haired friends there. How they cluck over MG & Bea. “They are just so sweet.” “I look forward to seeing them here.” “They look like they could be twins!” <–this one always baffles me, but I smile with pride anyway and use one of my saved up responses like, “well people say that about their daddy and me.”
We go to the locker room first to hang up coats and drop our bags. One of our special friends is in there. She has her cellphone on her this time and shows us pictures of her granddaughters who are the same ages as these sisters. She talks to the girls like one of the good grandmas..getting down on their level and asking them pertinent questions, about Disney princesses and the like. She’s one of our favorites.
The girls walk confidently into the kidzone. No hiding behind my legs and barely even a goodbye. They know the place (and its toys well). The older of the two teacher exclaims, “hi girls!” and puts matching clips in their hair while I’m away. I like her too.
I run on the indoor track. I developed a fear of treadmills when I started experiencing lightheadedness during runs. The fear of fainting is gone, but I haven’t been on a treadmill since.
I run long enough to block out the noisy basketball players and sink deep into my thoughts. I pray over a few key things on my radar and let excitement wash over me as I think about some future endeavors.
Just as I’m starting to sweat and become out of breath, my time is up. I go to the fitness center to lift some weights. Today is arm day.
I try out a machine I’ve never used before and realize that I still have the extremely self-centered middle school phobia that everyone in the room is watching me. I fumble through it and figuratively pat myself on the back for doing it anyway. A quick glance around the room tells me there might have only been maybe one person watching me. I think they were trying to figure out the machine too.
It’s been an hour since I dropped the girls off and it’s time for me to shower. The locker room is filled with old ladies in swimsuits and in various states of undress. There is something about being old, and nearly nude and vulnerable that brings out the sisterhood of friendship. One woman who I swear is 80 was offered an extra towel by one of the staff (and they are s-t-i-n-g-y about extra towels). I witness another pair help each other out when one’s shirt becomes stuck behind her neck. It reminds me of my little ones.
As I’m wrestling with my combination lock (which always brings a bout of anxiety, thank you middle school gym class), I see in my peripheral vision, a lady round the corner, stop, and walk back by me. She opens her mouth and I assume she is going to ask me a question about a class or directions to the gym. She says instead, “I’m just wondering where you get water shoes.” She’s looking at me, but then she’s looking past me and I too turn to look, now involved, by proxy, in this conversation. Another gray lady, decked out in polka-dotted swimwear, is reaching into her locker and answers, “Oh anywhere. Kmart, Meijers, Walmart”. I know she is a state native because she pluralizes Meijer.
After the inquisitor exits, she confides in me that her water shoes are really old and she doesn’t remember where she bought them. I realize that when she says really old, she means they could be really old. Like older than me old.
I make my way down to pick the girls up from their designated room. MG is sitting at a table, playing with a princess castle (surprisingly not in front of the tv). Bea is in a box of blocks. The older teacher says, “why do you have to pick up the good kids?” I smile and say, “were they good?” “Oh they are always good. This one (pointing to MG) is the quiet one and this one (pointing to Bea) is the busy one.” Yes, that is my observation at home as well.
MG has a forlorn look on her face as I approach. “They turned Sofia on. I tried not to watch but I just kept looking.” (we had asked her not to watch this show at home because it has some things that have negatively influenced her). I am proud of her effort and can’t help but smile at her honesty. She can’t let it go, “I just kept looking. I tried really hard but I was interested in what Sofia was doing.”
“How was your hang-out?” she asks.
We head back to the locker room (third time if you’re counting), this time to put on swimsuits. An elderly friend approaches the girls as we are about to walk out and says hello. Bea walks to her with arms outstretched in a hug invitation. The friend can’t resist. Not many people can. “I bet she would go to anyone”. she says approvingly. MG has to be coached to say “hi” to people. When she does, the word sounds like “hi” but the tone sounds like “goodbye”. It doesn’t matter, Bea has smoothed things over.
The girls hold my hands as we walk by the pool. There is a water aerobics class in session and Bea waves unabashedly as we walk by. There are audible coos and awe over the girls. We are the only ones under 50.
We stay and play until our stomachs and beds beckon us home.
I counted on three separate occasions, “you are such a good mom” spoken to me today. How could you not love this place? Good for your body and heart.