Have you all heard about this thing going around called “Wear the Swimsuit?” Apparently it started with a spunky, middle-aged writer (not this one) who started spreading the idea that women needed to wear the damn swimsuit whether or not they felt good about their beach bod because your children weren’t going to remember if you were chubby or had spider veins – they were going to remember that you took them to the beach and played in the sand with them.
This sentiment spoke to me. Not because of the children angle (while I totally agree with that as well), but because I know so many women that avoid things because they don’t want to put on a swimsuit. Or they don’t have anything to wear that fits. Or because they’ve gained 10 pounds since the last time they saw you.
My mom was this way. On her roller coaster of weight losses and gains, she would fluctuate between being social and reclusive. She dreaded parties with old friends when she had put weight back on and fretted over formal events when she’d have to go shopping.
And life is short. Hers was. Would anyone that ever knew her have cared if she came to your bbq fat? Or just that she came?
This idea reminded me of a column I found and actually framed for my mother many years ago written by Erma Bombeck called “If I Had My Life To Live Over.” (It’s been passed around the internet and manipulated over the years so here is the original 1979 version.)
Someone asked me the other day if I had my life to live over would I change anything.
My answer was no, but then I thought about it and changed my mind.
If I had my life to live over again I would have waxed less and listened more.
Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy and complaining about the shadow over my feet, I’d have cherished every minute of it and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was to be my only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.
I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.
I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.
I would have eaten popcorn in the “good” living room and worried less about the dirt when you lit the fireplace.
I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.
I would have burnt the pink candle that was sculptured like a rose before it melted while being stored.
I would have sat cross-legged on the lawn with my children and never worried about grass stains.
I would have cried and laughed less while watching television … and more while watching real life.
I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband which I took for granted.
I would have eaten less cottage cheese and more ice cream.
I would have gone to bed when I was sick, instead of pretending the Earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for a day.
I would never have bought ANYTHING just because it was practical/wouldn’t show soil/ guaranteed to last a lifetime.
When my child kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, “Later. Now, go get washed up for dinner.”
There would have been more I love yous … more I’m sorrys … more I’m listenings … but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute of it … look at it and really see it … try it on … live it … exhaust it … and never give that minute back until there was nothing left of it.
So, the whole “wear the swimsuit” thing is not a new sentiment – but it’s an important one.
Don’t go to bed mad.
Say you’re sorry.
Pause the show you’re watching and answer the phone when your mom calls.
Burn the pretty candles.
Wear the damn swimsuit.