Throw Me In, I Dare You
by Cheryl Mathis on July 20th, 2012
The money stars have aligned in such a way that the Mathis family is hardcore broke, and Lady Mathis needs a job and despite all of her amazing abilities and skills, she can’t find one. So I have been blessed with another summer at home with my cherubs, Ben (age 6.5) and Anna (age 4.75).
Last summer we had slightly more money, so we invested in a monthly bus pass and explored downtown on foot constantly, with frequent ice cream cones or cupcakes at Sweet Lola’s and trips to the pool at the Y almost every afternoon. Since that mad money is not available (though I am accepting donations and scholarships), we are finding lots of other great things to do together.
Added to the desire to actually leave the house is my promise to my kids that “when Mommy gets skinny, Mommy will wear a swimsuit more often.” One hundred and fifty pounds lost (thank you bariatric surgery), and Mommy doesn’t quite look like Jennifer Aniston in a bikini, but I’m quite passable in a one-piece. So I swim with the kids.
For the Fourth of July, we went to my sister’s house in Oshkosh. Her house is on a peninsula in Lake Winnebago, and it’s like a freakin’ resort and campground. For the first time ever, I spent the whole day in the water. I drove a jet ski for the first time, paddled around in a paddle boat for the first time without capsizing it trying to get in, and kayaked around an island (never even attempted to fit into a kayak before). The highlight of the day was jumping off the dock with my niece. I was so scared of jumping in. With the kids, I tend to just ease in and wade around. But actual jumping in? Um no… grown-ups don’t do that. Especially not morbidly obese grown-ups.
But I’m not obese anymore, and nothing is actually holding be back except the crazy voices in my head, so I told those crazy voices to go jump in a lake… literally. And I did. It was a transcendent experience. I jumped in over and over again. Bliss. I wish I would have remembered to try a cannonball.
So that little explanation of me and swimming brings me to my family’s favorite FREE activity of the summer… swimming at Manmade Lake in Sunny Vale Park. It’s so odd to me how many Wausonians have no idea what Manmade Lake is (it’s off 72nd by the Humane Society). Growing up here in the ’80s and ‘90s, Manmade was a premier summer destination. My sister spent countless hours on a pool float sunbathing in the water. It certainly wasn’t as developed as it is now (OMG did you know there are beautiful walking trails all around the lake?), but it was a bit of clean water that was available to swim in.
It’s a hot summer, and especially when we didn’t have the window A/C units in, our house was unbearable, so earlier on, when my husband would arrive home from his job in Marshfield, we would pile into the car and drive to Manmade to cool off in the water before bedtime. The tradition continues, and we prefer the sunset hours when most of the families and hooligans have gone home. In mid-July, the water is as warm as tepid bath water, but it is always a refreshing way to cool down the hot bodies from the sweltering sun.
My children have always been water babies. They take to the water like ducks. I think Anna was two when she first learned to somersault under the water. This summer they are perfecting their handstands. No fear whatsoever, until some horrible children revealed the existence of bluegills in the water to Ben yesterday. I have no doubt he’ll get over it.
My whole world is wrapped up in my kids, and since they are only young once, I’m okay with that. What this weight loss has done, however, is reintroduce me to living in my own body in a more active way than just using it to sit in front of a laptop or on the couch or both. I do more things with it… like jet ski or kayak. And since jumping off the dock earlier this month, I make it a point to dive out into the deep at Manmade as soon as I get there – no more tiptoeing into the depths for this lady. My hair gets wet.
Last week summer became even more memorable for me. I let my husband pick me up and throw me into the water, just like he does with the kids. At first it was just a splash war, and then he started threatening to throw me. I dared him, and said he couldn’t do it. And when I was over 290, he probably couldn’t. But I forgot I’m not in that body anymore, and wouldn’t you know it… that stinker COULD throw me! And he did. And I laughed like an idiot and let him do it again.
Yay water. Yay family.