Last summer I graduated to the big kids’ table at the swimming pool.
If you have children you’ll understand what a milestone this is – years and years of swim lessons finally paying off as my girls were now able to freestyle their way from the diving board to the ladder. The clouds parted and a holy ray of sun was cast down upon me in my warm, dry lounge chair as I had flashbacks to the year before – easing into the icy water, arms above my head, heart palpitating like crazy as my lips turned blue. I closely monitored the buoyancy of my children, ready to pull them up from the bottom doing my best to avoid cutting their little cheeks on my nipples. Every so often my pitiful gaze would wander up to the parents at the big kids’ table – dry and warm and laughing. Sometimes a Mom would even bring her kids to the pool by herself and read an entire book, never actually setting foot in the pool. My God… it was too much to take in. Better to just not look.
And last summer as I sat at the table with my friends and our laughs and our Jolly Rodgers standing down and our pool drinks and our kids never out of our periphery, my thoughts turned to how much responsibility – LIFE OR DEATH RESPONSIBILITY – we were now placing on the teenaged lifeguard who literally sat there looking half dead.
“Well this might make a funny post,” I thought, in what no one anticipated would become a comment massacre. “I could even make it satire, like I’m literally handing my kids off to the lifeguard and checking out. This will be hilarious!”
Well. All I can say is you know you’ve hit a nerve when you get death threats from the American Association of Lifeguards. The emails and messages poured in from – wait for it – not lifeguards so much as MOMS OF LIFEGUARDS defending their child’s summer job.
Moms of lifeguards and a bunch of people who have never had children, including this girl who called me a “cum rag”:
I had written sarcasm and they were NOT having it. No sir.
Anyhoo, I talked to my editor who modified the post to include the literal definition of the word ‘satire’ in the introduction. Then I went to my backyard, poured gasoline on my laptop, lit a cigarette and tossed the match over my shoulder as I walked away in slow motion.
I’d had trolls before – LOTS of them (I’m looking at you, woman who started an entire blog just to counter a story I once wrote about organic food. Hope that was a nice eight months of your life) and maybe that was the problem. Lately I felt like every time after hitting ‘publish’ I needed to duck and run. I told my editor I needed a minute, probably more, to recover from the god damn lynch mob.
Six months later and I’m still timid to step back into the pool, so to speak. “Ready to pitch some stories?” she would ask every month. I sat down at my computer, opened it, took a deep breath and cracked my knuckles. “Nope!” I cheerfully replied, slamming it shut and walking directly to the snack cabinet to stress eat until losing consciousness.
However, like all trauma, eventually the PTSD wears off and the experience becomes increasingly fuzzy with every glass of bourbon you throw in someone’s face for accidentally touching your coat. I love writing – it’s my passion. It’s what I am meant to do. Also, my kids are all in school now so it’s this or Assistant Manager at the Dollar Tree so I’m so excited to tell you so many funny stories again!
I do have to say that it feels so good to be back, this time in my well-earned spot over here at the big kids’ table.