The other day while setting up the pool my daughter said: “Mommy, are you going to swim with us?”

Noooo, I think, there’s no way any portion of my body is entering the icy coldness that is this half-filled pool. But since I don’t want to disappoint my child, I give a pleasantly non-committal answer. “Oh, I don’t know…why?”

Then comes the plaintive reply, which stabs knives of guilt into my deck-chair, iced-tea, and book-craving self. “But the lady on the box is swimming with her kids! See?”

I glance over at the box, and sure enough, there is the advertiser’s approximation of a family– 3 kids in the range of 6-12 years, a well-muscled guy of maybe 26 or so, and a girl who can’t be a day older than 22. Yeah, sure, this chick is their mom. Hah. I ask you–if she was the mom, would she be a perky uplifted stretch-mark-free size 2? Not likely.

(Now, I realize that I may have a reader or two that is both a mom and a perky size 2. Good for you, I say sincerely. I’d like your secrets. The ones that don’t involve jogging and plastic surgery and living the rest of my life without chocolate, anyway. I know my limitations. Which doubtless is why I am not a size 2.)

But the ‘mom’ on that box does not truly represent most moms. And I have to confess to a smidge of irritation here.

I mean, here we real moms are, hair tucked back in a ragged ponytail, getting grass stains on the butts of our already-worn-2-days capris, deciphering pump-priming instructions that seem to have been written by a drunken Martian, trying to keep the one year old from running off into the tall grass with crucial parts, all the while doing our darndest not to snarl at three other kids who every 7 seconds or so foolishly ask just one more time if the pool is ready yet.

Do we really also need to be taunted by some skinny chick posing in a bikini in our pool? I think not. You can bet she didn’t prime her own pump!

And even further irritating, because of the winsome example of good ol’ fake mom-on-the-box, my kid is going to guilt me into putting on that most dreaded of items, the swimsuit. It’s inevitable, you know. I’m caving to the pressure even as I write this.

Because even though I can’t be the size 2 mom-on-the-box, and even though I’d rather be sitting in the deck chair, sipping tea and reading a book, comfortably away from the splashing and hoopla, I know in my heart that I CAN go sit in that pool for at least a few minutes sometime soon and delight me little daughter’s heart.

I still want more truth in advertising. But I doubt if I’ll be getting it any time soon.

Because a bedraggled mom in grass-stained capris would probably sell a lot fewer pools than Mom-on-the-Box in her bikini…


  1. Oh, I'm in my 2-day worn capris as I read this…war-torn and now in their third summer. Doubt I'll make it on a box anytime soon. *sigh*

    I'm enjoying your blog. You have beautiful kids!

  2. LOL! I am not box-worthy either.

  3. She must be a sister. Try not to cave into the pressure. 🙂

  4. I dunno. I bet a bunch of us real moms would buy a box without "bikini-mom" on the cover JUST BECAUSE she wasn't on the cover! I bet we wouldn't even care what was inside. We'd buy it anyway.

    Great post. Hope the water wasn't TOO cold.

    If it makes you feel any better, I still have to wear my maternity suit, even though my son is 9 mos old. My, uh, assets, won't fit in a regular suit.

  5. I say Aunt and Uncle. Actually, Uncle and girlfriend, because she's still pretending she likes the kids. After they get married she'll get a house full of white carpet and the kids won't be allowed to come over.

  6. Heh, great post.

    I'm more like the Mom IN The Box — the big, padded box.

  7. GREAT post–you had me laughing! So true, so true…

  8. I would have told my kids that it was the babysitter and "friend"! My poor kids have never had a real babsitter so they think (and I truly do not know why) that only kids who have been naughty have babysitters……my comment would have stopped the "ready yet" questions for a little while anyway!!!! (don't worry- we do get out without the monkeys- we switched with another couple before we moved!!!)

  9. LOL…so true…

    Personally, if I saw a box with a mom who looked me on it, I'd be much more inclined to buy!

  10. I used to be a competitive swimmer as well as a weight lifter. Before I met DH and had four consecutive pregnancies in just five years, that is. Now, when folks invite me to a pool party, I tell them that my bathing suit has a hole in the knee…
    Plastic surgery might be something I shunned in high school, but it's looking more and more appealing these days.

  11. I can relate. I'm happy with my body after one baby…but I've only had ONE baby…but I'm still no size 2…matter of fact I probably haven't been a size 2 since about 8th grade. I recently had a similar experience. I borrowed a baby carrier from my aunt. The box is easily ten years old, and who is the mom on the box carrying the baby?? It's Andy McPhee (aka Meredith Monroe)from Dawson's Creek who was probably barely 18 when the picture was taken…ugg.

  12. Funny! That was absolutely the funniest post I've read. I probably spit out my coffee a few times. (Yeah, I know coffee at this hour, it was a rough night!)

  13. Yeah, that wasn't the mom on the box, it was the babysitter – which raises a whole 'nother set of issues.

  14. Mom-on-the-box needs some spit-up in her hair.

    And a baseball cap since she didn't have time to shower that day.

    Cute post!

  15. oh boy..this opened a can o' them there worms!

    I agree, I agree and I agree!

    By the way…after getting frustrated with my boys for the 10th time in the 9am hour this morning I thought…I really have GOT to email owlhaven…she is so put together and calm about her daily stuff. What-Am-I-Doing-Wrong? I have only 3!

    You gave me a look into a less than calm serenity of a moment with your family(the too-many-times-asked question, 2-day-old-capris, etc….)

    (huge sigh of relief!) Thank YOU!

    I no longer care about the mom-ON-the-box…I am relieved to know the real-mom-OFF-the-box can have real life moments too!

  16. How is it that kids know exactly the words to say to bring our mommy-guilt crashing down upon us?

    Good for you for getting in the pool!

  17. That is hilarious! You have such a funny way with words. Maybe just a toe in wouldn't hurt? You could even keep the capris on.

  18. lol, i'm wearing my 2 day capris, t-shirt, dirty hair (well not washed today), and a baseball cap. not the pic on the box either!

  19. That was really good! IT's true tho and I've SERIOUSLY thought the same thing looking at those boxes. It's sick and sad really!

  20. lol. drunken martians. an excellent approximation.

  21. Ha!! The only box I will ever be on is the "before" shot on the box containing the diet pills.

  22. Haha, those kind of ads always make me smirk a little. Bring on the real mom ads!

  23. Oh, well… you are what you are. And your kids don't see you like YOU see yourself…

    I say … go swimming with your kids. They'll remember THAT more than the stretch marks!

  24. I love this post Mary.

    This child bearing body will never be seen in a bikini, I can assure you. Hope you had fun swimming. 🙂

  25. Oh Ha! That's funny! I get the same thing from my sons about how I should look and what to wear because of those stupid ads! A little reality would be nice and not make Mommy so dissappointing to the kids!