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Then: You arrive at the pool with your towel, delicious beverage, ipod, and a novel. You wear a string bikini that actually says Corona on it. Sometimes you spritz yourself with a water bottle when you are hot but too lazy to walk five feet to sit with your legs dangling in the water for a few minutes. You sit by pool for hours and hours and read a novel. The end.

Now: You arrive at the pool with two overflowing bags full of towels, five kinds of sunscreen, two pairs of goggles, water wings, diving sticks, plastic horses (WTF? Whatever), three pairs of underwear, changes of clothes, four water bottles, a cooler of healthy snacks that nobody will eat, chips and fruit snacks that everyone will argue over, and your wallet filled with the $30-$50 you will spend at the pool.

You insist on wearing a bikini because hell yeah, you still (sort of) got it, but wear board shorts to cover up the curvier parts of your anatomy, until you leave the pool five minutes after you arrive because of course it’s already¬†“adult swim” (yeah, right) and you can no longer tolerate the now soggy-ass wet bottoms and decide, fuck it, you’ll bare your tiger stripes with pride like all the empowering parenting blogs say you’re supposed to.

You sit blissfully in the zero-depth section of the pool in a few inches of water, sunning yourself and pretending you’re on a cruise until your children insist you join them in the deep end. You of course oblige, because, rules. Your children hang off your body at awkward angles, toes planted firmly in your ladybits and fingers tugging dangerously at your bikini top.

You swim and play happily until it’s time for lunch, which is mostly chips, pickles, fruit, and Oreos the children complain are “mushy” from their too-close proximity to the ice pack but eat anyway. You eat a sandwich. Five minutes after you re-enter the pool, you are informed your youngest needs to pee rightthefuck now, which means you dash to the nasty locker room sans flip-flops and wish you could later set your feet on fire.

Ten minutes later she needs to poop but you insist on taking the 45 seconds to retrieve your shoes because you’ve lived through that hell once and never again. You stand, dripping wet in the cold, damp locker room as your child takes a leisurely 20-minute shit and emerge from the locker room further grossed out and begging for your husband to tag you out so you can sit and bake off the disgustingness in the hot sun.

The sun is under a very, very large cloud. You embarrassingly squeeze all the freezing cold water out of your padded bikini top, not giving a crap who can see you.

You grudgingly re-enter the pool. Water is repeatedly splashed directly into your face, up your nose, and into your recently colored hair that you are unsuccessfully trying to protect from chlorine.

Your youngest child gets her face wet, freaks out, and you return with her to the happy shallow end to stretch out in a few inches of water and sunbathe and ohymygod wherethefuck did the fucking sun go again.

Then you didn’t speak to anyone for hours on end except maybe your BFF if she’s down with endless pool and book and sunbathing time. And of course, you had your earbuds in. It was heaven.

Now you see at least a half dozen people you know and often¬†meet the eyes of fellow parents who also long to be tagged out by their partner so they can sit in the sun for a few minutes and think about the novel they didn’t bring because, let’s be honest.

As soon as the sun warms your skin, your kid runs into your arms and covers you with UV-resistant long-sleeve top and swim skirt wetness. You laugh and shiver and laugh some more.

You take half an hour to pack up all your shit that of course no longer fits in the beach bags you toted, and everything is all wet and gross and you contemplate just leaving all the towels behind and buying new stuff at Target in a few days.

Then you were relaxed, tan, fit, ready to drink with your friends all night.

Now you are more tired, older, curvier, and yes, happier.

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