It was sitting on my porch when we pulled into the driveway, a small package. Had he tried, our postman probably could have tucked it into the mailbox with the political advertisements and invitations to open new credit cards.
I’d worried it wouldn’t arrive in time for the pool play date we were attending Monday, and now that it sat on the porch, wrapped in a plastic envelope, I worried about wearing it.
The bathing suit.
Words that send my stomach into a whirlpool of dread and self-criticism and irritation at myself for letting something so shallow take over such a large part of my consciousness when we make plans to go to the beach or pool.
Each summer I rationalize that I will either change the way I look in one or accept my body the way it is. Then I run and eat cleaner, I take days off and celebrate with cupcakes, and whether my body looks better or worse than the previous summer I feel the same way about the bathing suit.
Self-reflection allows me to realize it’s not about the way I look, necessarily. As far as bodies go, there are worse ones to live in. Mine can run and jump and laugh and live each day without pain.
Yet bathing suits bring out the worst in the way I feel about it. No matter what form of stretchy material I choose, it lays my insecurities bare in front of me.
Legs that stubbornly trudge through miles on runs I feel too tired to do look thick and unwieldy beneath tankini bottoms or swim skirts.
Arms and shoulders in which I proudly noticed a bit of definition earlier, this week seem doughy and shapeless.
A midsection crossed with appendectomy, surgical hernia, and c-section scars and scar tissue roundly protrudes no matter what sort of material I wrap around it.
But when I hear myself hesitate to accept an invitation for a play date because of my insecurities, I realize how selfish and vain I’m being. My kids want to play in the water; our friends want to laugh and splash and feel sunshine on our faces and imperfect shoulders. The only one worried about how I look in a bathing suit is me.
So I carry the package into the house and try to focus on the pretty shades of green circling around the tankini. In January, when snow was turning to gray slush in the streets, I yearned for the long days of sunshine and sticky summer air that can only be quelled with popsicles and cool water.
Now that it’s here, I know the heat of summer will swirl around me for only a few months, no matter what I’m wearing.
And I want to enjoy it in the pool.