On the last day of the swimming season, my family and I were graciously invited to the nearby pool by our neighbors, who are mainstays of our township and some of the most entertaining and generous people you’ll ever meet. I grew up in and around swimming pools, but don’t recently frequent them because whenever you offer me the opportunity to go to the pool alone with my two young children who can’t yet swim, I’ll often decline. (It’s a lot of work trying to keep two alive by myself at once, is all I’m saying.) But my kids who can’t swim are a bit older now, and have these next-generation floating devices that are way above and beyond anything I had as a kid, so we agreed to go.
It was a beautiful afternoon. It had been forecasted to rain but it held off, and so it wasn’t as hot as it had been, but not terribly cold, either – the perfect temperature. We got in the pool and my kids had a great time splashing around, even paddling a bit to the wall in the few feet of water we were in. My daughter bobbed by, a miniature pink buoy, her hands in the water and her face looking ahead, concentrating. She mumbled something, and I leaned in to hear her:
“Feel the relax,” she said.
I watched as she stretched out her hands, pawing at the water the way a cat would, slowly making her way to the wall from my arms.
“Feel the relax.”
I was just as struck as I always am listening to my kids. I wasn’t relaxed at all that morning – I was upset at having to buy a bathing suit last-minute (always a terrible experience) and not looking forward to spending hours at the pool while both kids constantly clawed and clamored on me in the water, having to think about how much sunblock I’d applied and whether it had been enough or not – and I was dumbfounded by how much she knew, inherently, that the power to relax was inside her, just waiting to help.
In the hectic, frenetic weeks before school started and as the end-of-summer activities and to-do lists stretched on, I had completely forgotten all about the point of summer: to relax. To just stop and observe the world around me. To let my muscles un-tense themselves, to feel the air on my face and the heat of the sun on my skin.
I watched my kids playing, and observed the joy on their faces as they partook in the last of the great summer traditions before school started the next day. I looked up for longer than a second or two at the cloudless sky, and noticed that the leaves on the trees surrounding the pool were beginning to turn. I listened to the loud roars of the buses passing, and a train that had come by; and when the teenage lifeguard blew the whistle for adult swim, I passed my kids to my husband and went for lap after lap, the same way I used to do when I was little.
I felt the relax, and kept feeling it when we returned home. Felt it as I threw their suits and towels in the laundry machine, felt it all through dinner, and as I packed my son’s lunchbox the next day.
Sometimes I forget to feel it, still, when the anxieties of the day crowd my mind; but I remember the innate wisdom of my little girl, take a deep breath, and try again. A new season is coming, after all – and each and every one needs just as much relaxation, wonder, and peace.
Until next time, be well!
About the author: Christy Gualtieri is a freelance writer specializing in pop culture, religion, and motherhood. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and two children. Christy also blogs at asinglehour.wordpress.com and tweets @agapeflower117. You can follow her here on eTalkTherapy for inspirational articles and different perspectives as they relate to good mental health.