To my swim family: thank you + “The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend” by Katrina Bivald

My younger daughter used to love “Dance Moms”–she loved the dancing, of course. And although I found the drama and the stage-mom quality all ridiculous, I understood the stuff that went on in those dance waiting rooms (I’m sure there is a term for that, I just don’t know what it is). Because I sit in a room sort of like that, with swim parents. We have a lot less drama, and a show about us would be pretty boring (most of the time), but I understand the waiting and discussing and worrying of those Dance Moms.

Because I’m a swim mom.

For at least 4 nights a week and at least one day on the weekend, I’m surrounded by swim parents. Mostly moms, but there are a few dads in there, and even some grandparents. I spend almost as much time with them as I do with my husband. Some of them I been ‘hanging’ with for the last four or five seasons; some less, and others come and go.

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There have been years where one of their children or mine ages up, their practice times change, and I don’t see them as often. We’ve been together through team turmoil, bad aquatic directors, and parent drama. We dish dirt, talk pbs, and discuss upcoming meets. We worry about our kids and how they’re swimming, but also about their non-swimming lives (school, friends, and the boy-girl thing for which they’re suddenly old enough).

We came together for a common reason–our children ‘s love of swimming. We stay because that love continues, and we’re parents who want the best for our kids.

You don’t realize how much these people are a part of your lives until they’re not there. You don’t realize how much these people are like family until you have something going on, and they know it without you having to say anything.

We are a family, we come together and congregate for a similar purpose: Swimming. Watching them go up and down the pool, hoping that they swim well and aren’t disappointed, cheering them all on through the good and the bad. We have common goals for our children: stroke and time progression, various time standards, the positives of setting and reaching goals through hard work and perseverance.

And yes, this extended family revolves around our children and their sport, but we’ve also become friends. We spend a lot of time together, so we learn about our lives outside of swimming. We’re there through the tough swims for our kids, but we’re also there for tough times in our lives.

I know other sports and activities have the same thing. When you’re sitting around, waiting and watching your kid do their thing, you form a group. Soccer moms. Band parents. Lacrosse dads. Theater parents. It’s all the same thing. (Although, with swimming, you spend your weekends in a pool area or a gym, waiting hours on end for child to swim for a few seconds or minutes.) You get to know your group, whatever your reasons for congregating together may be.

This week I have seen how wonderful these friendships can be. I’m having a really rough week, and they picked up on it. They asked me if I was okay, and I wasn’t. And it forced me to open up, which I needed.

Because they are removed from the situation, we can talk about it. There are professionals that can discuss the issues in my life (more on that in a couple of weeks), and people who have been where I am and understand my anger and pain.

This week I have never been more thankful for my swim family. I’ve seen how lucky my family is to have them around.

We picked the right team, with the right group of people.

Okay, onto a fun read: The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katrina Bivald.


New books always had the strongest aroma. Sara assumed the printing smells just lingered and somehow, logically, disappeared once a book had been opened, read, and leafed through. That was what she thought on a purely intellectual level anyway, but she didn’t quite believe it. She still believed that what she could smell were all the new adventures and reading experiences awaiting her.

The Premise

Sara is a Swedish bookworm, a woman without a future now that the bookstore where she worked has closed. At loose ends, she decides to take her American pen pal up on her offer of a place to stay. And this is how Sara ends up in Broken Wheel, Iowa.

But her pen pal has died just days before Sara’s arrival. It seems the whole town of Broken Wheel is expecting Sara, even if they don’t know what to make of her. And no one understands why she would want to stay in Broken Wheel, a town off the the highway with a huge inferiority complex. One of those small towns in middle America that is dying a slow death.

Enter Sara, a book worm, uncomfortable with the town’s generosity. Unsure of how to repay the town, she opens a sort of used bookstore, of which there seems to be a dearth in this part of Iowa. Suddenly people from the neighboring town with a flourishing industry are heading to Broken Wheel in search of reading material.

With a little love and a lot of pluck, Sara just might put Broken Wheel back on the map.

My Thoughts

This normally wouldn’t be my cup of tea, but I was in the mood for something sweet. And I’m glad I read it.

Slightly reminiscent of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe (with some real references to the book and Tawana!), this book is down-homey and very Americana-ish. The most amazing thing is that is was written by a Swedish author and translated. She gets middle America!!!

It’s not deep literature, but it is a wonderful read. The best part about it is the obvious love of literature the characters have, or come to have. So many book references, and so much reverence and love for books. Sara’s life revolves around books, and I can only be jealous of the life she builds in Broken Wheel.

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is fun and sweet, and a great break in the middle of winter. Perfect for lighter times. Great for book clubs. Chick lit to it’s core. Fun, funny, and heartwarming.

I give it 4 stars. It radiates book love, and it’s a lot of fun. A quick weekend read.

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