So brave. Not.

I took my youngest to the local pool this morning. It’s just opened and is all shiny and new. Completely aimed at families with large changing areas, a slide, water sprays etc…it’s all the business. And at a cost of $1 for both of us, this is the second time we’ve been, in fact, we are going to try to go every week. But while I was there I was reminded of something that was said to me over the summer at a friend’s house; something that really annoyed me and has clearly stuck with me.

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard something like this, which kind of makes it worse. My friend has a swimming pool and with my kids being only 4 and 5, at the time, I of course was going to get in the pool with them. Not just to keep them safe, but to have fun with them. There were a handful of families there, people that I had only recently met. As I got the kids changed and then pulled out my swimming costume to go and get changed, one of the mums said to me, “Oh, you’re brave.” At first I wandered if she meant because the water would be cold. It was a warm day, and I seriously asked the host “why, isn’t it heated?” But the mum in question, said “No, I mean getting in with them and putting your swimsuit on.” I was flabbergasted.

I am no supermodel but putting on a swimsuit so my kids and I can have fun is not brave in my book. Maybe it’s because I was meeting these people for the first time, but yes, I judged them as the conversation continued as they got their husbands to sit on the side of the pool and watch their kids. I seriously don’t get it.

What message are we sending to our kids if we refuse to put on a swimsuit to get into a pool to play with them? What are we saying about body image?

So this morning as I looked around the pool and saw mums, dads and grandparents of all ages, shapes and sizes in the water having fun with their kids I didn’t for a second think any one of them was brave. I didn’t think how courageous they must be for wearing the necessary clothing for the situation, a swimsuit in a swimming pool (shock, horror) and having loads of fun with their kids as they splashed and played.

Seriously people, get over yourselves. It’s a body. Be grateful for all it can do. Show your kids how amazing it is to be alive. Don’t worry about what other people may think and have some goddamn fun with your kids.

Find your tribe

When I first became a stay at home mum I was the first of all my friends, everyone else was still at work. It can be a lonely time and the internet became a vital connection to other mothers, both locally and in other countries.

Although that connection is a god send at times it was easy to become swamped by opinions and information about how to be a mother. There are umpteen blog posts about this problem already I am sure. But what I’m going to write about today is how I eventually found my tribe and they made me feel normal.

I went through stages of following mummy bloggers who were very ecologically friendly, very hands on, expert cooks. I found perfectionists who have the ability to organise creative activities everyday for their kids. Instagram led me to the lunchbox mafia who can make sculptures out of carrots and cucumbers you can’t possibly imagine. It all seemed like a competition and an impossibility.

Hats off to these folk. If you can do it, great. But what I soon learnt it that it is not realistic. It can’t be. And with the arrival of my second child I pretty much decided that it was near on impossible to keep up those levels of creativity and involvement, and more importantly I realised what was the point?

Kids teach you amazing things and the most important thing is at the end of the day they just want to be loved. They need to be fed and cared for. They need to be played with, given opportunities to experience the world around them, but they don’t need the most expensive designer clothes, organic artichokes or every second of their day scheduled.

This is how I found my tribe: The warriors who, like me, found humour in these unrealistic, unattainable ideals. The strong men and women facing the tantrums of two year olds, counting down the hours and minutes until bedtime. The parents declaring it wine o’clock on social media once the tearaways were finally asleep. The families who are imperfectly perfect and filled with love in messy houses around the world.

Thank you all for keeping it real and holding my hand.