There are times when a mama just has to suck it up and do something terribly painful in the name of love. Peeling myself out of my warm, cozy bed at 4:39 in the morning in the middle of winter to drive a surly teenager to swim team practice on the other side of town is one such time for me. Like making tapioca pudding, or taking my children to the dentist, it is also high on the list of things I do that actually make me feel like a really good mother.
My daughter is a wonderful girl and I love her to pieces, but she is pretty grouchy and put-upon by my presence at this hour. I can’t imagine why. I think I’m pretty good company in the middle of the night! I am so delirious, that if I do open my mouth to speak it’s usually to say something inappropriate or funny. However she doesn’t seem to really care much at all about my companionship at this tender hour, and spends her time scrolling through her Blackberry and fending off any attempt I make at conversation. The only discussion acceptable to her on these rides seems to be a one-way monologue whereby she outlines all the tasks she needs me to perform to support her in the upcoming days: “Don’t forget to drop my (insert important item) off at dad’s/friend’s/school/etc“, “Have you filled out my registration forms yet for (insert important teen event here)?”, or “I’m-going-to-need-$15-and-a-new-dress-and-shoes-for-the-blah-blah-blah-end-of-season-teen-lollapalooza-party-banquet-carnival-extravaganza-date-and-don’t-you-stalk-him-on-Facebook!-and-I-need-it-by-this-afternoon!”.
There is NO WAY at her age that I would have hauled my sorry teenage self out of bed to do something this early, this cold, and this strenuous. I am proud of her and want to support her, but I am also a bit mystified as to why she is doing it. She has always loved to swim, but has not done so competitively since summer swim-team many years ago. She goes to a prep school, so I think most of her school activities are in some way oriented towards her college application process whether she realizes it or not. To her credit though, she did tell me she wanted to swim to stay in shape for her upcoming softball season.
Still, it is hard to imagine how a person in their prime sleeping years can volunteer to leave the comfort of a warm bed at 4:40 in the morning to flail about in a chilly pool. I went to a public high school and I suppose there must have been a swim team, but if so I wasn’t paying any attention. The only swimming I was doing in high school was after hours skinny-dipping in the various pools around town.
Luckily my daughter’s best friend is also on the team and I’m good friends with her mother. For some reason we don’t carpool. Probably because we both feel too guilty to ask each other for such an unreasonable favor. Probably also because we both feel a little smug about performing such a heroic motherly act. She and I are usually the only two cars driving the long straight shot from our neighborhood to the pool. Sometimes I pull up next to her at a red light and we have a haggard little chat. This week is finals week and she told me yesterday at a red light that her daughter complained all the way to the pool. Such a strange thing to be yanked out of bed in the middle of the night only to bear witness moments later to the concerns of our high-functioning daughters.
The ride back is different. I love riding alone through the dark city streets and when I get back home I have the house to myself to do what I like in peace. Sometimes I crawl back in bed, but often I stay awake and indulge myself in a blog post or two about it all.