I was taking my time, shuffling through my suitcase, trying to figure out my strategy. Two of my three boys and my husband were already at the hotel pool for some night swimming. My middle son, Michael, and I were milking it. He hadn’t decided if he wanted to have a stomach ache, and I hadn’t figured out how to get out of going to the pool.
I usually never even bring a suit, since I have a general dislike of all things water – pools, beaches, my body in a bathing suit. But, for some reason, on the same mini-vacation where I had forgotten to get a pedicure or bring a razor, I had shoved a suit in my bag last minute. Once Michael declared himself fit to swim, I had to make a choice – to wear or not to wear. After some mental tennis, I decided against the suit, instead throwing on a cover-up dress to give the illusion of pool ready, without showing any reality.
Once there, I immediately remembered why I hate indoor pools; the chemical smell, the contrived heat, my children playing in a tank of wet doom. I could never find any true comfort, just an agitated impatience. I sat next to my husband and checked my phone. It was already after 8pm. That was the gift of night swimming. It didn’t last too long.
We rotated our eyes from boy to boy to boy; one a good swimmer, one decent and one new. It was monkey in the middle. One. Two. Three. One – My oldest, playing with a blue ball in the middle of the pool; pushing it under water, then watching it shoot up out of the water and retrieving it. Two – Just a bobbing blonde head and orange goggles, doggie paddling toward the far edge. Three – Right in front of us by the stairs, practicing his swimming.
“Mommy, watch this!” he squealed, his dark curls matted against his head, his dark eyes alight with excitement. Dramatically, he climbed up two of the steps, readying himself, and with one mischievous look back at me, jumped.
That’s when the lights went out. Complete and utter darkness engulfed the pool area.
I stood, both immediately and in slow motion, surrounded by blackness and the unreal echo of water and people freaking out. Mute and drowning in fear, I reached for my husband. My worst nightmare was this second. My children were in that pool. We needed to jump in. Now.
But before we could, the lights flicked back on.
My heart pounded wildly, and my head whipped around. One – Still in the center of the pool. Two – Hanging on to the edge. Three – On the steps.
The whole thing lasted maybe five seconds. Probably less. I took a deep breath, relief filling my lungs. Then, finding my voice, screamed for my kids to get out of the water.
I knew going to the pool was a mistake.
I’ve loved you since I met you and you had me at ice cream but this post takes it to the next level. Totally. I loathe the water for your reasons and more. This post stopped my heart. Great great job.
well, aw shucks. thanks. thinking about meeting you is one of the reasons i am trying/hoping to man myself up and go to the blogher thing this summer.
Yikes…a bit scary, no razor, and then the bit about the lights going out 🙂
Seriously, I’d be freaking out, with the lights bit!
oh – it was the longest moment in time. crazy frightening… not as frightening as eating yabbies, or me without ice cream, but frightening none the less! 🙂
Nah, yabbies, you’d love ’em! Although, have been known to eat small kids 😉
But here’s the deal, you join us in the outback one day, and I’ll make sure you get ice-cream!
Oh. My. Gosh. I would have been one of the people screaming!
I NEVER go to our indoor pool here. It’s like scary gross. I shudder just THINKING about it… You are braver than me!
When moments last ages….
Must have been total terror!
Loved your post,as always,my dear! A big hug!
I do the same thing… Always try to appear pool ready, but I never get in. I. Hate. Pools. But my kids love them. And I would’ve died if the lights went out and my non-swimmer was in the water!! Cringe!
right – as if i didn’t hate pools enough to begin with..
You must have been counting heads all day! I hope you had some you time!
ha! me time! what’s that??
Absolutely terrifying! If I had been in that pool, I would have absolutely panicked – and I’m an excellent swimmer (oh yeah, and an adult too)! Can’t even imagine if I couldn’t see my own in a pool of darkness.
when i asked the boys afterwards, they kind of shrugged as was like, it was no big deal! kids!
I’m just the opposite, I love the water. That probably explains why I spent 30 years in the Navy.
you’ve got to follow your calling! i’m a land lubber. 😉
I hate indoor pools too! I’d rather suck it up and dive into the open waters of the ocean than be trapped by four walls. As for your precious cargo, my heart would’ve jumped out of my chest. Glad to hear there were okay and no one was hurt!
just another reason to hate indoor pools! 🙂
I’m with you on the hatred of bathing suits, but I love the water. Nevertheless, I felt a moment of panic when the lights went out. Oh my God! I would have instantly been a complete mess. And “tank of wet doom”–lol
one second and the world explodes… in this case, into darkness. insane.
Life certainly hands us some terrifying moments as moms. good. night. That must have been awful. Great re-telling though 🙂
thank you. it was a ‘moment’.
Five seconds can seem like a lifetime with kids in potential danger. Hotel swimming pool, bah!
You’re a great writer! I honestly gasped when the lights went out. Seriously threw me for a loop. I’m so glad it was only for a few seconds.
thank you! and me too!!! those were looong seconds!
The phrase “both immediately and slow motion” was the perfect way to describe those surreal moments when something bad is happening. It made my tummy hurt to read that part. So glad the blackout was only temporary.
I don’t like indoor pools either – it’s weird to me, having spent most of my life in CA where nearly all the pools are outdoors. That must have been scary. Glad it all was ok!
yup! me too! 🙂
Oh what a scary feeling!! I can imagine how those five seconds probably felt like 5 minutes. I’m glad everyone was fine and that you were able to stay dry. (I hate indoor pools too. It’s too muggy, and feels like a room of sweat and grossness.)
MAN! That was scary!!! …. but I LOVE the the water (though I can’t swim). I feel this real deep connection with all water forms- I may have been a mermaid in a former life.
a mermaid is such a lovely water entity… i think in a former life, i was eaten by a shark .
That moment scared the heck out of me. So that means you did a lovely job writing it. Glad it was just a few seconds and that everyone was okay. Kind of would have loved to hear about you jumping in with your “fake” suit. 🙂
i certainly almost did… and did consider tying that in, but with 500 words… well, it didn’t make the cut. 😉
Holy smokes Mama! I would have DIED. Glad it all worked out the way it did, but oh wow what an intense few seconds.
was crazy. would would think that would ever happen. once we were in an indoor pool and the lifeguards told everyone to get out because it was lightening outside… crazy
My heart was in my throat when the lights went out. Gah.
it was insane!
I love how you captured that pre-panic pause in the darkness!
thanks. it was complete panic. 🙂
oh CRIPES you had *me* in a panic there for a minute!!! awesomely told.
I was scared right along with you. That horrible feeling of anxiety in every parent’s gut when something like this happens. What a relief that your children were safe. So many great lines here “drowning in fear” was my favorite. Well done Mama!
Oh, goodness! Terrifying! I’m glad everyone was OK!
I hate indoor pools and bathing suits, but love the ocean and wish I lived near it (instead of in Iowa, LOL!).
it was a second of terror, but it always reminds me how quickly in life things happen. scary. and i am surrounded by water, and want no part of it! 🙂
The tank of wet doom — I’m DYING here! I was practically born swimming but I think I would have come unglued at the power failure too with my kids in the water. We’re sticking to outdoor pools this year.
same! although, i’m going to try to avoid them all!
I just had a second of claustrophobic panic reading this. Being caught in the pitch black is almost as bad as being stuck in an elevator or some other enclosed space. And indoor swimming? Definitely not for me either. It’s second only to indoor ice skating on my list of seasonal sports that are best done outdoors.
pitch black and pool of water is not a good combination.
My heart is racing after to reading this. That would have freaked me out!
a bump on the head was too much for me. pool and darkness. would put me away
i love the smell of chlorine but the darkness would have pushed me over the edge!
it was surreal, that weird echo on the water, people shouting, the smell and darkness. AHHHH! 😉