rogue

"It just feels so indulgent." I was swimming pool shamed by a mum friend.

The author of this post is known to Mamamia and has chosen to remain anonymous for privacy reasons. The image used is a stock photo.

As told to Nama Winston.

When I invited my friend Georgie* over to enjoy our sparkling new pool, I never thought it would be the last time I saw her as friends.

Or that she wouldn’t even get in.

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My husband, David, and I painstakingly renovated our home over two years, had a year’s break to financially recover, and then put in a medium-sized swimming pool.

What felt like hundreds of arguments, years of living in a house that was being renovated with three kids under seven, while both of us continuing to work so we could pay for it all, and we were finally there.

It wasn’t a big, fancy reno. We’d deliberately bought in a cheaper suburb so we could have some land at the back for the kids to play – and for a decent-sized pool.

We were a family of swimmers. David and I had both been lucky enough to have pools when we were kids, and we started our babies early with swimming lessons, too.

We really wanted our kids to have the kind of fun summers we’d grown up with, basically living around the family pool.

When we finally had it installed, it felt like the jewel in the crown.

So, that’s my justification; not that I owe anyone an explanation for what I do with my life, on my own property.

That is, except for my friend, Georgie, apparently.

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Georgie and I met when our kids started kinder. We’d been friends for three years, and good friends, too; the kind who hang out with each other after school and take turns to feed each other’s kids.

I always thought Georgie understood why we renovated (to have a nice place to live), and she’d certainly never said a word about the pool as it was going in.

All of that changed on the day I invited her and her kids over to ‘Christen’ it.

Georgie’s kids, fully kitted out in swim gear, ran straight to the backyard with my three, and stood with their faces pressed against the glass pool fence.

“Are you getting in, too?” I asked Georgie, as she put down her kids’ swimming bags.

“Nope,” she said abruptly. “And neither are the kids.”

I thought she was joking, so I sort of laughed.

“I’m being serious,” Georgie said. “They can run around on the grass through the sprinkler like they always do.”

“What’s the problem with the pool?”, I asked, finally realising she meant what she said.

Georgie sighed.

“Look, I know you needed your reno, but the pool is just so wrong.

“It just feels so indulgent, such a luxury, when water is a big deal at the moment. I don’t feel comfortable with the kids in it.”

I was stunned and unsure of what exactly was happening. Was she turning this into an environmental issue?

“So… no swimming then?”

“Nope.”

“Then why did you come over?” I glanced at the kids running around the yard through the kitchen window. “I mean, they’re all dressed and ready to go.”

“Yep, so they can do the sprinklers. Let’s get out the slip and slide. Not the pool.”

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I finally started to get defensive. Was she really standing in my house, criticising a personal decision of mine?

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“I don’t get why you’re politicising my swimming pool,” I told her, shaking my head.

“It’s a waste of water. It’s a waste of electricity. There’s a drought, and it just feels like, ‘Oh, look at us using a huge amount of water just to play in’.”

I should have realised she wasn’t being entirely rational, but I still thought I could make her see reason.

“Hang on, it only needs to be refilled once a year. It’s solar heated. It’s exercise and sunshine for the family. How are those bad things?”

“Look, it’s just the way I feel, ok? And I just think you should have known better because you’re always banging on about recycling and straws.”

I almost laughed at that one, because I then realised she was calling me a hypocrite.

I looked at the kids again and felt so disappointed for them all. They’d been so excited about an afternoon swim.

“The pool pump is broken, guys, we can’t swim today!” I said as I walked out to the backyard.

There was a collective groan of confusion and disappointment; I knew exactly how they felt.

Georgie came out to join us and proceeded to act as though everything was fine. So did I, just to get through it, but I was seething inside.

The pool was solar heated. It had a cover to reduce evaporation. It was for fresh air and fun and family time. It was most certainly not a status symbol.

Sure, I couldn’t say there was absolutely no environmental impact on building and filling a pool. And I concede it’s a luxury to be able to afford one. Should I now feel guilty about the pool? I wasn’t sure.

Of course, when I told David about what happened, he burst out laughing and said, “Well, they can find somewhere else to cool off this summer!”

And with that, I decided to enjoy the swimming pool I’d longed for my family, and worked so hard for.

My friendship with Georgie was just part of the price I had to pay for it.

We saw each other at school but never organised to catch up again.

*Names have been changed for privacy reasons.

Feature image: Getty.

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