He waits at the side, with his Nana.
He stares and stares and stares.
I stop, and see his little face, quizzically watching me.
"What are you doing, Mama?"
"I'm swimming, Bug!"
He smiles. "Mommy swims."
I think of all the times I swam in this pool with him, carrying him...the only thing I could do that summer, since he was so big and my body was busy growing him. I wondered who he was, what he was like, and what he was thinking in there as I did my extremely awkward flip turns.
What are you doing, Mama?
Four years ago, I trained for an Ironman. It was, aside from labor and delivery, the biggest physical test I've ever endured. And for that I've been lucky. Unfortunately, I've seen many of my loved ones put themselves through things much harder than an Ironman lately.
I remember that journey and all it taught me. And I think about who I am now. Still an Ironman--always, an Ironman. But even more than that, too.
He watches. He isn't interested in the slide or the fountains right now. He stands, and he watches and watches.
"You need this, Mama?"
He hands me my kickboard.
"Okay, Bug...yeah, I could use that now." I smile. I hate kick sessions. I hate them because I'm not any good at them, but he wants to see me try, so I will.
After I kick a few laps, I tell my mom, "Just 20 minutes more or so," and she tries her best to pry him away from standing at the foot of my lap lane. Somewhere in that 400, she succeeded. I kept on swimming, focusing on my stroke and my breath and everything you need to when you swim.
Sometimes people ask me if I'll do another Ironman. Sometimes I ask myself. He is my Ironman right now; he is my epic journey. Someday soon, I know without a doubt that my Ironman will be a race again. But for now, I love taking him and his baby sister on this road--this ever-changing, intimidating, frustrating, exhilarating, amazing road that is called Ironman.
I get out and head over to him as he sits on my chair with my towel. He's eating a cheese sandwich and some blueberries. He sees me walk over with my kickboard, my cap, and my goggles, and his eyes light up.
I run over to him and give him a big hug, feeling the high of a strong 2600 meters in the pool combined with the hug of a small little man. "Hi, Bug!"
"Mama swims. Mama swims fast."
I smile. (He doesn't need to know it's really not that fast.)
And I understand that he's still with me on every lap. Just in a much different way.