I have become a swimming widow.
I'd always felt pretty smug about The Australian's total lack of interest in anything sports related. While other women complained about being ignored in favour of 5-a-side after work, or the cricket season, or the Grand Prix (hi, Mum), I simply smiled and shrugged - I knew nothing of this pain.
But apparently this was all to do with The Australian living in London. In London he wasn't interested in exercise - we grew fat together on the sofa, watching The X Factor and tucking into curries (it sounds sad but there was a beautiful togetherness about it). He was slightly grumpy, and shy, and we both prided ourselves on being fairly anti-social. We were all those things together.
The very minute he sets foot in his homeland - bibbity-bobbity-boo! he's different! He doesn't want takeaways, he wants salad; he's friendly with the neighbours; he has stopped complaining - all in all, he's become... Australian. He's tanned and fit (and I have a problem with this?!) and goes swimming or running nearly every day - in fact, the only complaining he does is when circumstances conspire against him so that he can't do one of those things.
He's also revealed a wildly competitive streak. I'd always suspected it was there, just not in a sporting way. But recently he's been entering swimming competitions all over the place. The children and I are his entourage. We wait on the beach, easily spotting him on the starting line (the only one not in a wetsuit - okay, maybe he's not 100% Australian yet); we shout "Go go go!" and then I click the camera frantically to get a shot of him setting off into the sea with another 50 competitors, trying to avoid a kick in the teeth, almost invisible in the spray.
And then we wait. "Is Daddy in the lead?" says The Girl, approximately once a minute for the entire race. I try to explain that it's not winning that counts, that we're just proud of him for taking part. "Yes, but he said he'd give me his medal. IS HE WINNING?" And then, in the distance, the matching swimming caps come into view and we hold our breath to see how he's done. Is that him? No, no, too pasty. Is that him? Nah, too bulky. That's him! There he is! And we jump up and down on the beach, me trying to get a photo of him crossing the line while holding The Boy and answering The Girl's main question: Will he get a medal?
So this is the life of a swimming widow. And tomorrow, the entourage is going to that picture you see above: Phillip Island. It's not such a tough call...
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10 months ago