Thursday, 4 February 2010
Because it’s summer (Why I’m wearing out my swimsuit this season)
Swimsuits — I’d just rather not. Water parks? Don’t get me started.
But it’s summer, and this week is a scorcher, but even so it feels wrong to be sitting in front of the A/C vent all day. So when I announce at 2:50 p.m. that I am waking up the baby and we’re going swimming in 10 minutes, the house explodes with energy and joy and the quickest obedience I’ve seen in a week, even though I’m interrupting computer time.
All these things used to feel extra, and they felt heavy under an already too-heavy load of mothering. Venturing out, packing up and making plans seemed too hard, too much trouble, too messy, too tiring, too hot, too embarrassing, too exhausting.
But it’s summer. And though really, Minnesota, one hundred degrees seems to be a bit much, like you’re trying to be someone you’re not, we know you’ll snatch this warmth away in a heartbeat and soon we’ll be scraping ice and shoveling snow and longing to be outside for longer than 20 minutes.
But right now, the heat that swallows us up says it’s summer, and why not scoop up the biggest handfuls we can manage and shovel it all in, binge on the glory of it all? There won’t be many more days like these, and I always worry about what I look like in my swimsuit, but then I get to the pool and I see it doesn’t matter, and not because I compare myself and feel superior. It doesn’t matter because the women and men I admire most there aren’t the ones with magazine-perfect bodies. Every type of body is on display, shorter here, wider there, stretched out or scrunched together, a little wobble or a young tautness, bejeweled and fleshy or plain and covered, and the one thing that draws me in is confidence and self-acceptance. When they accept themselves, it’s so easy for me to accept them, too. And so I see another lesson in self-love, and I set out to make friends as I see unique and beautiful people everywhere, not simply their bodies.
I see more and compare less.
Because although my first impulse is to just slide into my jeans and hide indoors, really I’m only hiding from myself. The act of putting the swimsuit on again and again is like a sacrament. It’s holy work, and every time it’s done, I look in the mirror and believe beautiful, seek love, embrace acceptance.
I could keep hiding, covering up, being safe. But it’s summer.
And so it’s a simple little thing, but I’ve vowed to go swimming all summer long, as much as possible and whenever we can. And I’m not on the sidelines watching, but I’m there with them, in the water, I jump in, too.
Because it’s summer, and showing a little skin can be like salve on an old wound.