So, I have decided to take up swimming for exercise. I went to the swim store after the summer and bought real deal swim suit. Those things are not cheap, so I found the sale rack and got the largest suit they had on sale....one that's still a little too small for my body, but will work nonetheless. I'm not happy about wearing a too tight suit, but I figured for the savings from buying on sale, the embarrassment of the suit is worth it. I'm beginning to question that decision.
Each time I go to the pool, I quickly get in the water so that folks don't have to see my post pregnancy body and too tight suit. I swim my 30 minutes and quickly get back to the locker room to put clothes on again. On Monday night, I was walking past some middle school girls to my locker in the dressing room when I heard the girls make some sounds and saw shadows of gestures that let me know that these girls were not being nice towards me. I brushed it off, knowing that girls will be girls. I opened my locker and as I pulled out my bag, I heard one of the girls say to another girl who was 10feet away from her, but only 2 feet away from me, "When I get older, I want to stay in shape." (silence, silence, pause pause) I was stunned. I looked at the girl. She said, "...um, like my mom." (silence, pause) I couldn't keep my mouth closed, "Um, I hope you're not directing your comments at me, but in case you are, I just had a baby. And when you have a baby, it is really hard to stay get back in to shape." The girl made a defensive stance and face and said, "I wasn't talking about you." (yeah right!) I responded, "Oh I didn't think you were, but just in case you were, you should know that I just had a baby and it is hard to stay in shape when you get older. And how many babies did your mom have?" "Just one," she said. "Oh, yeah, well that makes sense. It is a lot easier after having just one baby. It gets harder with each one."
The girl fell silent. I let the room feel tense for a moment and then walked away to the restroom. I came back and the two girls were still silent. I took my stuff and walked out.
I can't get over that whole experience: the swimsuit, the body, the girl, the comments, my anger, the authority I took hold of and spoke from, the self doubt, the gall....The whole think haunts me a little. I wonder, can I go back to the pool at the same time or do I need to change my routine, do I have to buy a new swim suit, do I believe her attitude about me or my attitude about me, what is my attitude about me, what do I do with all this?
I've shared this interaction with a few people. I told Greg as soon as I got home what had happened. He said he felt like I handled the situation well. A friend told me that the girl was naive and immature. I keep telling the story over and over in my head, but I have yet to hear the response I'm looking for. I'm not even sure what that response is, really, but I know it goes something like this: Did I do the right thing? Did I say the right thing? Will swimming make a difference? Will my children know better how to speak? Will I ever be in shape? Am I really going to let a middle school girl bully me into self doubt? Will I always be embarrassed wearing this stupid swim suit?
The horror in the pool locker room happened on Monday night, but the haunting questions continue on. Thanks a lot, middle school girl.