I recently attended a baby shower for a first-time mom, and the hostess asked us to write down one piece of motherly advice to share with my friend.
Shortly before the baby shower, I had been looking through a photo album and had come across a picture that left me with more questions than memories. In the picture, I’m standing on a diving board at the local community college, dangling my then 10-month-old baby girl over the deep end of the pool.
Sound like a good reason to call child protective services, right? No, it was just me and Lily taking a “Mommy and Me” swim class 10 years ago.
So here I was at the shower, and I couldn’t let my words of advice be “Never take a ‘Mommy and Me’ swim class or you might find yourself in an ill-fitting swimsuit on a diving board dangling your precious baby over the deep end.” Because that just sounds crazy (not unlike me, when I signed up for the class in the first place).
What the heck brought me to that place, you might ask? I think the deeper question is who is the bozo that came up with the idea of a “Mommy and Me” swim class?
My theory? It was the brainchild of a single, childless man.
Here’s how I imagine the brainstorming session went when the class was created …
Single, Childless Man (henceforth known as SCM): “I think we should have a swim class that targets new moms.”
Reasonable Woman (RW): “Hang on there, Spanky. Have you ever seen someone make a pizza? You know how they pull and tug that pizza dough until it can’t stretch any further? That’s pretty much how these women have felt for nine months. Now, let me ask you, have you ever seen pizza dough snap back into a little ball again? Yeah, me neither. Now, let’s take this one step further … you are going to ask these stretched-pizza-dough-new-mommies to put on a swimsuit and go out in public?”
SCM: “Well, yes. I suppose they would need to, seeing that it’s called ‘Mommy and Me.’”
RW: “Tell me, have you ever been swimsuit shopping with a new mom? Because it is not pretty. You can almost hear the crying and weeping clear out in the parking lot. That, my friend, is the sound of the realization that your body will never be the same. Are you sure you want to continue down this path?”
SCM: “Yes. I feel that it’s critical that these babies learn how to swim, and who better to teach them than their mommies?”
RW: “But isn’t that why we have swim instructors in the first place?”
SCM: “Well, I think it’s safer for the babies to have their own moms teach them while the instructor leads the class.”
RW: “Safer? These women have not slept more than three hours at a stretch in a year and THEY are the people you’re building your safety argument on? They can barely finish brushing their teeth at this point in life. I knew one new mom, a respectable, professional woman, who was so strung out from lack of sleep that she left an entire grocery cart full of food in the parking lot and didn’t realize it until she got home. You still want to play your safety card, my friend?”
At this point in my imaginary story, I believe the reasonable woman threw up her hands and left the room.
The moral of the story: When the reasonable woman leaves the building, terrible ideas come to roost, e.g. “Mommy and Me” swim class.
I have pictures to prove it.
In my defense, I wasn’t thinking straight back in those sleep-deprived days. In fact, just a few days prior to the point where I had willingly dangled my baby from a diving board, I had left my entire cart of groceries in the parking lot and driven home.
What? You think I make this stuff up?
Eileen Burmeister lives in Winchester, Ore. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow her on Twitter at EBurmeister.