Poolside People Watching

My friend “who happens to be a widow too” and I have just done a second holiday a deux. When we did it last year we were quite conscious of what people around the pool would be wondering about our little set up. Would they be trying to work out, as we lathered each others backs in factor and answered to four children under five indescrimitorily of which ‘Muuuuuuuummy’ was being summoned, if we were in a ‘my-two-moms’ set up? Or perhaps we were golf ‘widows’ (La Manga has a few of these women who describe themselves as such without realising the weight of the W word) whose husbands had such scant care for holidaying with offspring that they didn’t make it to the pool once to throw a child up in the air? One couple we met assumed we were military wives. A rather obtuse conclusion but then when you people watch on holiday you do concoct quite elaborate and full interpretations of people from that tiny slice of life that poolside observation offers.
This year it felt quite normal. My friend “who happens to be a widow too” and I quickly fell into coupley behaviours, splitting chores and sharing childcare. At one point I laid out a towel on the righthand lounger (hers) and she thought I was being territorial rather than thoughtful. When I explained she said, “I’m just not used to people doing things like that for me anymore”. But I laid her towel out just I would have done Col’s or Cameron’s, if he’d been able to join our thoroughly modern family holiday set up, and I lathered her back just like she lathered mine. We are not ‘together’ as such but I feel the bond we have made since meeting through our loss is stronger than steel. Back in Edinburgh we speak most days just checking in because we know what it’s like when people stop doing so. But the holidays confirm it further – they confirm just how close and how important we are to each other and how close our children now are. My friend and I can have the same thought simultaneously, we can catch eyes in certain situations and know exactly what’s whirring through the mind of the other and one can forgive the other for shutting the door in a cockroach emergency. But above all we can share discussions after the Spanish sun sets that would make others uncomfortable because it’s not often two people can discuss the odd parallels between organising a funeral and planning a wedding, and find elements of that quite funny in that ‘if you can’t laugh you’d cry’ type of way.
This year in Spain we were less conscious of being watched and were very much more the watchers. We laughed a little at all the paraphenalia a full set of parents (and sometimes Grandparents too) can bring to the pool to entertain one tiny child. After last year’s boats, floats and pistols, our new attitude was very much ‘just add water’ and children are happy and for the most they were, very happy. As we watched we worried that some children might end up Vitamin D deficient with the amount of sun protection clothing and headgear they were swathed in for their week in the sun. And above all we silently assessed whether all the dads around the kiddie pool were putting in the effort. The unsaid was that we both felt our husbands, the fathers of our children, would have been better than any of those guys there, and of course they would have been. I hope to take Cameron to the same place one day with his kids and mine but I will always make time for this little holiday a deux with my friend “who happens to be a widow too” because she is way more than just a friend, she just gets it when so many don’t. Cheers once again the other Mrs C and here’s to La Manga 2015. x

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