A Splash of Joy

My regular commenters will know that Mother’s Day is not my fave holiday. Instead of an all-she-can-eat buffet on Sunday, I’m sure most moms would rather have year-round gender wage equality, family leave, safe schools, affordable medical care, a work place free of harassment, a secure old age, and so forth. But nothing says “I love and respect you” like French toast once a year with ersatz maple syrup and margarine, right?

And yet, even I get tired of my maundering on. My bad attitude is not news, it hasn’t yet effected societal change, and a lot of people ENJOY a breakfast buffet even if the maple syrup isn’t extra-virgin vintage Vermont’s Finest.

So this year, I asked myself, “OK, Grumpy Grace, if you were going to celebrate the holiday, to remark the occasion in a manner that made you feel pleased and joyous, how would you do that?”

I thought about it. What makes me happy? What do I enjoy? What would be a Big Treat as summer rolls into view?

I thought about it some more, and I am not buying another horse so help me gawd, and I just got to see my daughter, and I’m not quite ready for a trip to the UK, so what…?

I bought a membership in a small, outdoor community pool about twenty minutes from the house. Where I live, that’s just around the corner. Why did I do this? Because from little up, I have enjoyed freshwater swimming. Pools, creeks, lakes, farm ponds… I like to be in fresh water (not so, the ocean). I can’t think of a time when I went swimming and had a lousy experience (except in the ocean).

Horseback riding has the same sort of taproot for me. I was born loving horses, born loving yard flowers and wild flowers, born loving to climb trees, born loving a good, rich dessert. I haven’t been swimming in forever, so I’m going to try adding that one back into my life. Not because it’s exercise (heaven forefend!), not because it’s social (ye gods and little Gracie fishes!), not because it’s a climate change coping mechanism (not yet anyway), but because I enjoy it.

And when I get stuck in Grumpy Grace mode, I will say to myself, “How about we go for a dip this evening, my dearest self? Dangle our piggies, do a few laps, soar from the diving board? Grab an ice cream cone on the way home, and be grateful for the joy instead of stuck on the downs?” And my self will say, “I’m in!”

Happy Mother’s Day to all who celebrate, hugs to those who don’t, and I hope if you cannot make the day your ideal indulgence, that you can at least arrange a splash of joy!


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16 comments on “A Splash of Joy

  1. Thank you, Grace, for the book! I nabbed it just now.
    I too am guilty of being fairly perpetually grumpy. I am trying to do little things to lift my spirits, or small silly things that make me smile. I usually have to mark them on my calendar to do, so they are nowhere near spontaneous, but I think its good for me! I’m also doing the work of shifting negative thoughts to neutral or positive thoughts, which is very work!! Cognitive behavioral therapy is a marvelous thing, though.

  2. Hah! My daughter is leaving for a three year overseas gig in Timor-Léste, has been home since Thursday, flies out Tuesday, and is assembling all of her worldly possessions-as well as 20+ lbs chocolate -in the garage in anticipation of the movers arriving on Monday. (At least they are doing all of the packing!) A swim sounds lovely after 10 hrs of shopping. Maybe I’ll head upstairs and weave for a while in silence pre – Mothers Day!

  3. I completely agree with your love of water and swimming…now. Not so much a few years ago. The house we bought back then came with an in ground pool, which was very nearly a deal breaker for us. We’d had an above ground pool when the kids were younger and it was endless work, constantly battling algae. I think I single-handedly paid for a wing on our local pool supply. I was not eager to repeat that experience. So I researched the cost to have the pool filled in. How much could it cost to fill a hole in the ground, I thought. Silly me. Apparently getting rid of a pool is a huge, expensive undertaking. The concrete has to be broken up and removed, the rebar supporting it likewise must be dug out, and yards and yards of material brought in to fill. We decided that the charge to remove the pool would cover the cost of having professionals maintain it for quite a few years. I am so glad we decided to keep it. It has truly become my happy place. And for some reason, (maybe better chemicals, a better understanding of what it needs, advances like automatic vacuums that you drop into the pool and forget about for a couple of hours), this pool seems to be a breeze to maintain. Of course, I am not a strong swimmer, having been forced to barely learn to swim in order to graduate college, but I can float and dog-paddle my way around. Which we make time to do each and every day that the weather allows. It has truly become my favorite thing about this house! Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms, Step-Mons, Grandmas and everyone else who steps up to fill the difficult and incredibly rewarding role of Mother! Stay safe. Stay well everyone!

  4. Since I never enjoyed cooking, but love breakfast or any meal cooked for me, I would ungrump in a minute if someone presented me with any yummy meal, best is being invited to our daughter’s home, but since she is a mother too, who is preparing a meal for her???? Take Out will do!
    Why haven’t I proposed such a thing already? Because I’ve just not thought about it till now, of course. My daughter is a very good cook (how did that happen??). Her French mother in law may deserve some credit there.
    I commend you, Grace, on your swimming pool decision. I grew up loving the ocean, but here I live almost on Lake Michigan which does not quite do the trick. It was diving through the breakers that thrilled me and then floating with my legs not sinking for once…
    Curling up with one of your books would be a perfect Mother’s Day for me actually. I’ve read almost everyone, but missed the Captive Heart’s, so I’m going to indulge in those now.
    Please do whatever you really want to do tomorrow! You always deserve it…

  5. The post made me happy. Even though I’m not a water enthusiast (could have drowned as a kid and some of my worst nightmares involve water, especially the sea), I loved hearing about what you love!

    I myself am an animal lover. Mostly cats, but I absolutely never pass up an opportunity to love on a doggie or two!! But, it doesn’t stop there. I will enjoy any animal I come into contact with. I once had the opportunity to hold a kinkajou. I was in heaven!! I fed a giraffe a cookie once; joys and raptures ensued! I kinda got bit by a dolphin once when I held out a fish to his group. It was my fault and I pulled away quickly enough. I did what they said I shouldn’t do and discovered why! lol! Nothing bad happened as a result and I got to keep all my fingers, too. 🙂

    My other love is art. There are some pieces of art that I don’t like… but, there aren’t many of them.

    I thought your choices for Lady Violet’s life were interesting and they kept me on the edge of my seat. I love the characters you’ve created with this series. 🙂 I can’t say anything more without giving stuff away, but I enjoyed the new life adventures for Violet, et al in “Lady Violet Says I Do.”

    Happy Day tomorrow for all!

  6. Just about any person I know has a fairly good reason to be grumpy about something or many many things.

    I think we put too much emphasis on these holidays that have changed from when they were first decided on as a lovely thing to celebrate. But that’s like complaining about Christmas being too commercialized, it’s not going to go away so you have to celebrate in a way that’s meaningful to you and yours. I’ve noticed that a few online retail companies have started sending messages several weeks before a holiday giving their customers the ability to opt out of advertisements associated with said holiday. I’d hate to see myself as that sensitive at some point in my life, but I imagine it’s good business. And holidays are sad for many many people, for any number of reasons.

    I love your idea of a pool membership. I have had to give up lap swimming because of my shoulders, but boy I do miss that still. I do water walking and therapy exercises a couple of times a week, still love the feel of the water. When I was a kid I’d practically make my Mom list what I had to accomplish that day in order for her to let me go to the pool. You’d think she’d learn to take advantage of that and actually make a list. But she had a strong opinion about kids being kids and having time to have fun. Bless her.

    We’ll have our normal Sunday phone call with our Son (daughter-in-law will be flying out for business tomorrow early a.m.) I’ve already gotten ‘The Card’ in the mail today, cute and sweet. And my husband uses any excuse to add $$ to my Amazon gift card account so every single ebook I buy doesn’t show up individually on my credit card. He’s a keeper.

    Happy Mother’s day, Grace. Just keep swimming.

  7. Our daughter, our only child, died 2 years ago this month, so I have really mixed feelings about Mother’s Day. It will be a day to remember the child that brought so much joy into our lives, but I have asked DH and other family members to avoid the “Happy Mother’s Day!” stuff if at all possible. I’ll find a happy place– read a book, disappear into my craft room, make a favorite meal for us. May your swimming bring you happiness and relaxation, Grace.

    BTW: Thank you very much for the freebie. Unfortunately, I can’t find it– only the $4.99 one in your bookstore. No doubt it’s just me, but I’ll keep looking. That’s one of the few Violet books I don’t have, so it will be a lovely addition to the library.

  8. Happy Mother’s Day! I so love your choice to join a swim club. I do not enjoy hot weather unless I can be in the water. While I grew up a pool rat, as an adult I’ve only had pool time for the few weeks I’m on vacation every year. Last year I decided to join a swim club near home rather than hibernate in my air conditioned home all summer. I work full time, so my time to enjoy floating in the water is limited, but it’s the best me time I’ve enjoyed in years. If you’re allowed floatation devices, I highly recommend a floating sling chair. A floppy hat and a sling chair is my idea of complete self care. An iced tea in hand is the cherry on top!

  9. Happy Mothers Day Grace! (And all you other Grace fans out there who are mothers) Really enjoyed all the comments from everyone. I really enjoy going out to eat with my daughters and son-in-law, but since it has become more and more difficult for me to get around, this year they bought me a lovely flower arrangement of gerbena daisies and small white carnations to look at and make me smile, and a selection of my favorite cookies.

  10. I love your writing. You are my favorite and I’ve read everything you’ve published.

    However, you must know that, adjusted for years working, hours worked, job/career chosen, etc that women are NOT subjected to discrimination in the workplace.

    I’m 73. PhD microbiology. There WAS general discrimination in the now distant past. I faced it.

    There are now and have always been a**holes. But please acknowledge how much better it is. In fact women in STEM are now courted by university and business.

    Your soul will thank you.


    • My original reply to your comment, Miriam, went on for several paragraphs and started getting cite-y, and blah, blah, and Grace Does Closing Arguments. Then I went out and planted half a bed of impatiens, and bethought myself: Is that really the best response I’m capable of, when a loyal and appreciate reader has given me the benefit of her thoughts?
      So in the grand writerly tradition, I’m revising my reply. I agree with you that things are MUCH better than they were back in the $.59 on the white male dollar days. I will also agree with you that there are ways to present the data such that you are right. Women in many sectors of full-time employment, when compared with men who have the same education and experience and the same job descriptions, are close enough for jazz to parity. And that’s a good thing. It’s even better that you found yourself in one of those sectors, despite starting off when the playing field wasn’t level. Good on ya, Miriam, and thanks for blazing the trail.

  11. My kid gave me her lovely school project gift. A drawn picture of me in scrubs. Breakfast, then the left me to myself for 4. Full. Hours, while i was stuck at home on hospital call. They went to see grandma 45 min away. Added bonus, a pink toolbox for all the pink hand tools I aquired to encourage my husband to put my tools away. All in all, not a bad mother’s day.

  12. I had a really nice Mother’s Day this year. My daughter has a new boyfriend and the two of them made Eggs Benedict for his mother and me. The two mom’s got to meet each other and talk. It was lovely.

  13. I had a lovely Mothers’ Day, thank you, but a normal Sunday mostly. Indulgence comes in larger chunks, but the joy is splashed about. The pixie dust is fleeting. I want to be aware or I’ll miss them.