Today didn’t exactly turn out the way I expected. With it already being over 90 degrees before noon, I decided to head the campus gym for a swim. I knew I wouldn’t be able to do laps because the facility would have the “lazy river” and whirlpool activated for the kids. I made up my mind that I was going to just go with it for a few minutes, just enough to cool down.

A few young girls were playing on the inner tubes and splashing and basically making it impossible to really swim. Their parents were soaking their feet in the water and watching them. I won’t deny that on any given Sunday, the screaming little voices would get on my last nerve. Today something just felt different.

These children, all different colors and ages, were laughing and pushing each other around in the water completely oblivious to the insanity going on in the world right now. One of the little girls swam up to me and started a bold conversation by asking my name and where I was from. It was so cute. I asked her if she wanted me to push her into the “lazy river” while she was on her raft, kind of also looking over at her parents to get permission. They were so grateful for the break.

I quickly turned it into a game by creating the Lobster Monster. I gave her a head start and then “chased” her making lobster claws with my hands like I was going to get her. Of course, I could have at any time – but she always managed to “escape.”  It didn’t take long before I had 5 other kids wanting to play. We had the best time – and truly it was the most fun I’ve had in years. I felt like a teenager again.

Lately I’ve felt the internal clock ticking a little bit, I won’t deny it.  While I certainly don’t regret not being pressured to have kids in a situation I knew wasn’t right – I find myself wondering if I’ll ever get the opportunity. But after today I realized – they are all my children.

I get really annoyed when someone says to me “you don’t know what it’s like, you’re not a mother.” I’ll give you that much, I don’t know exactly what it’s like. But that doesn’t mean I’m not maternal, it doesn’t mean I don’t understand how important it is to be a good role model and example for children. Trust me – your kids are looking to how I act and carry myself too. They are sponges – they take it all in.

After about an hour, I was beat and pruning so decided to head to the locker. Every single kid gave me a high-five or a hug when I left and the parents were so thrilled that I wore them all out.  Sure, it’s easy for me to be the big hero of the day for an hour when it’s the parents who have the tough job. Believe me, I know that – and I don’t presume to take your place or tell you how to raise your child. But all these kids, they are mine too. They are going to be the ones running the country when I’m in adult diapers in a nursing home someday. Therefore, their lives matter to me.

I don’t know if I’ll have a biological child of my own. All I know is I feel a responsibility to help make children’s lives amazing, safe and fun – in any way I can. It doesn’t matter if it’s “my” child because they are all my children. The Lobster Monster doesn’t discriminate.