My water aerobic class moved outdoors after Memorial Day weekend. We meet at the city's water park, before it opens to the public three mornings a week. It's the same place I used to take my kids when they were small. It's not a very big place. There are two pools, one goes from zero-depth to about 5' deep. The other is a large tot pool. Both have water slides and features that make it lots of fun for families.
From the time Joey was three years old, we spent many a summer day over there. Hauling the stroller, the pool toys and the cooler with snacks and lunch. Sometimes, we would do a supper picnic. Dan would meet us after work, and he would bring Subway. I have a great picture of him, holding Luke in the tot pool, both of them wet-headed and grinning at each other, with a waterfall in the background. I have another picture of Emily, at the age of three, her round figure squished into a ruffled two-piece swimsuit, one hand on her hip, the other arm holding tight to a beach ball.
These are the memories that came flooding back the first morning I went to my class. Everywhere I looked, I saw my sun-kissed, chestnut brown kids, splashing in the pool or wrapped in a towel perched on a pool chair holding a juice box or a handful of grapes, smelling of sunscreen and chlorine.
My arms feel so empty these days. Summer is a time for kids. For school breaks, trips to the library and to the park. Bike rides, Kool-Aid, and T-ball. I miss those days. I miss the early mornings on the porch when the kids were still sleeping, sipping coffee and reading a book, hoping for a few more minutes to myself. The afternoons when we would get home from the pool, the house cool and inviting, kids sprawled out watching a movie, exhausted from a day in the sun.
Weekend camping trips with campfires, sticky marshmallows, bug collections, and playing baseball games with rocks for makeshift bases. Hikes that seemed to go on forever, and the thrill of seeing the car again!
It's just not the same when summer rolls around, but routines remain the same. We change it up by using our patio more, cooking on the grill, having our ritual of G&Ts on the back porch after Dan gets home from work. We talk about how nice it is for just the two of us to go to a ball game, and splurge on ballpark food, rather than stopping at Subway or packing our own snacks to take into the park. Yes, it's easier. But better? I don't know. I do know that life must go on. That nothing stays the same. I just wish that for one day I could have it all back again.