Sunday featured chlorine. First there was the two hour total time expedition to the MIT pool that usually nets about 30 minutes in the pool at best. On Sunday, however, I lucked into a parking spot right across the street from the pool complex. Usually I have to park across a state boundary, and if I don’t have the stroller that means either walking at my son’s speed and missing class or carrying him and being sore afterwards. Luck was with us for the first time, so we were able to get through the changing room with time to spare. We used this to play around in some open lanes in the family swim area with a few other families who were doing the same. With the added twenty minutes of time in the pool, my son was zonked and chilled when we finally got out at the end of the lesson. He stayed awake during the ride home only because he had a snack of cashews and a bottle of water. After a quick lunch, off to sleep he went and stayed for a good long time.
In the evening after dinner, we went upstairs for bath and bed. My son had an accident in the tub, so I got the two kids out, called for backup from my wife, who has never been in the room for one of these events, and commenced cleaning the tub with, you’ve got it, bleach. I am sure I now smell of chlorine and will do so for at least another day. However, my kids got to swim and shower in their mommy’s tub, so they probably like the smell for its associations.
When I was a child, I took swimming lessons at the large, public pool in the large public park near my house. Being at the pool was a ritual part of summer in St. Louis. It was one of the only places one could keep cool and not spend money.
On Saturday, we took the kids for the second day in a row to the Richmond Heights pool. It is an amazing indoor play space for kids. It has a soft floor, lots of structures, and a lazy river. My kids got wet and had fun! My son went down a slide, got a full face of water, and got up fine from it. I don’t know how I had the time and freedom to swim as much as I did during the summer, and I don’t know how to get my own kids in the water enough to be comfortable swimming in it.
Today, I got back in the pool for the first time since December. I have found that swimming laps, while not as entertaining as biking or running, is really good exercise and not too hard on my body. One issue I had when I started swimming more last year was that my neck was getting sore from breathing during breast stroke, and I could not maintain freestyle as long as I wanted. In talking to my uncle who swims daily, he recommended using a snorkel. I could really spend some effort in learning the correct breathing techniques, but even then, I don’t think I’d be able to relax my neck as I swam. So, snorkel it is.
Luckily I don’t mind being to goofiest looking person swimming laps. Today, I got in the pool amidst a few odd glances and swam. I swam more in the time I allotted myself than I usually did when I had been swimming for a while. Not having to pick my body out of the water or rotate to breath really helped. Also, when I got winded, I could slow down and breathe as I needed which allowed me to keep swimming even while taking it slow. I put in a solid half hour and feel great for it. Tomorrow may seem a little different, but I am relishing it now.
Why does my renewed exercise merit talk on a blog about parenting? Having entered the role of father later than many, I want to be in shape and healthy as much as I reasonably can so that I can experience my children’s lives as fully as possible. Of course there are many things I have no control over, but I can take better care of the body I have. Also, I want to consistently model an active life with value placed on fitness. When I am exercising, I feel better, and my parenting reflects that. I have more patience and humor. If I don’t exercise regularly, I might just find myself in deep water.