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Could a Drink By the Pool Make Me the Mom I Want to Be?

At the pool the other day, a few of my fellow parents were enjoying a little rant about what might make our rather dilapidated swimming spot a nicer place to be. Umbrellas were mentioned. A slide. Bathrooms that don’t require shower shoes. I listened, and nodded, but what I was really thinking of was a line I stole straight from that New York Magazine piece we were all talking about last week: What this place really needs is a bar.

Bear with me here.

I just think I would be a better, happier, more delightful mom at the pool if I just had a well-made margarita in my hand. I’m not really thinking of studies suggesting that moderate social drinking is good for you. I’m not even proposing that I would be more relaxed or easy going with a few drinks under my belt. Then Strollerderby blogger Cole Gamble argued against just such drinking and parenting, citing “altered” parents and a friend who nearly took out a pinata’s worth of kids at a swinging toddler birthday party. It’s not really the alcohol effect I’m looking for here. It’s the feeling of life in some sort of idealized Margaritaville that I’m after.

It’s summer. Living is supposed to be easy. But by the time I’ve packed up four little swimsuits and rounded up four pair of goggles and towels and a cooler full of snacks and quarters for Air Heads from the snack bar and clean clothes for the ride home and figured out what we’ll be eating upon our late afternoon return, life is not feeling particularly easy or graceful. I do not feel like a person enjoying a glorious hot weather trip to the pool. I feel like a schleppy shlump of a sherpa. An icy cold beverage whirled in a blender and preferably with a tiny little umbrella and a straw would be just the ticket to combat that encroaching, grumpy, “hey, this is your vacation, when’s mine” feeling.

The tiny dose of alcohol I seek wouldn’t be about taking the edge off, or supporting any dubious health claims. It wouldn’t be enough to render me unable to drive, or make me dangerous around a pinata. A teaspoonful would suffice. Just enough to render my drink untouchable by greedy children, who have long since learned to consume everything from black coffee to plain seltzer water once it becomes desirable simply because it belongs to me. Just enough to make me imagine that I’m less Marge Simpson and more like the mom in a J.Crew catalog or a Vogue spread: one with a glamorous life that the sun shines upon, happy and indulged. That mom would surely jump in the pool to play with her kids for a little while–but not so long that the ice in her drink melted. She would be more inclined to watch a kid go off the high dive, more relaxed about the missing cap from the sunscreen, more appreciative of the pleasures of just watching her kids in the sun. The portrait of a happy summer afternoon.

I guess umbrellas or a slide would be nice. What would be nicer is if I could take that margarita feeling and hold on to it, without any blended subliminal cues that summer’s a time for appreciating a moment of living in the now. Meanwhile, nothing’s ever going to change at our tiny little public pool (where, incidentally, alcohol is strictly forbidden). A couple of slices of lemon in my ice water and bringing my own lounge chair will just have to be enough.

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