Pool Bag


kids swimming

The Origin

In 2002, our family moved to a new house and joined a pool nearby. As a young mom with a toddler and an elementary-age child, I knew I would need a large bag to hold swim diapers, sunscreen, towels, snacks, and the various accouterments needed for a fun day at the pool. So off to Target I went, where I found the perfect bright pink and orange tote. Made of mesh for easy drying (and sand-straining), the perfect tote had pockets all around the exterior and a wide mouth for throwing in towels and abandoned swim shirts.

The summer of 2003 found our little family trekking to the pool nearly every weekday. My husband was at work, but since I was a teacher, our summer free time was filled with the scent of chlorine and sound of splashes, as the kids played and I chatted with my friends. The pool bag was always along for the ride, loaded with whatever the kids and I needed, from snack money to sunscreen—chances were, you could find what you were looking for in the heart of the bag or in one of the pockets.


The pool bag also made several trips to the beach over the years, thereby morphing into a “beach” bag, holding an old transistor radio with corroded batteries that I kept forgetting to throw away, beach towels, the rare seashell worth keeping from the Gulf, and all the usual gear for a day at the beach with four people. Its sand-straining capabilities were appreciated, and its bright color made it easy to keep track of where we were sitting if someone wandered off. It was as much a part of the trips as our family was.

Once the kids hit middle and high school, pool trips became fewer and fewer. Either the kids were too cool to go with me, or wanted to go to another pool with their friends and they took their own bags, or they were too cool to need a bag—who remembers? But, the pool bag wasn’t needed as much as it had been. It wasn’t exactly neglected, but it made fewer trips into the sun.

Present Day

Now that my kids are grown-and-flown, I still take the pool bag on beach trips and even to the pool when I go. On a recent trip to the beach with my daughter (and, yes, the pool bag), I realized that it was really big and I was lugging a lot of things I didn’t need. On that same trip, I came across a small burlap bag with “BEACH” written in all caps. It looked like the perfect size for a book, one bottle of sunscreen, and a water bottle. Plus, it was cute, so I bought it and am looking forward to getting a lot of use from it.

We still have that pool bag, though. I will never get rid of it. It will come in handy on beach trips with my husband or friends since it is clearly durable, given that we are still using it twenty years later. But, that’s not why I won’t get rid of it. I won’t get rid of it because whenever I look at it, it makes me smile. When I see it, I smell chlorine and hear laughter and taste the pizza we ordered because it was already five o’clock and we hadn’t made plans for supper. I feel the sun on my face and the drip-drip of whichever child decided to sit with me (or on me). Basically, I am reminded of some of the best times in my life as a mom just a little bit each time I see it and, to me, that makes the pool bag priceless.

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Janna is the mom of two “grown-and-flown” adults, ages 20 and 24,and has been married to her husband, Jamie, for 27 years. They have lived in Birmingham since starting college at Birmingham-Southern in the mid-80s, and loved the area so much they decided to stay. Janna graduated in 1990 and taught elementary school for 28 years, most of it at Gwin Elementary in Hoover. Since retirement, she has certified as a yoga teacher, done more volunteer work at her church, and has explored her love of writing. She is passionate about focusing on the blessings and joys in every season of parenting. When she is not trying to be productive, you can find her with her nose in a book (yes, a paper one), exercising, or hanging out with people she loves.


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