Always Bring Your Swimsuit

Self-ImprovementMotivational

  • Author Connie Wilson
  • Published June 28, 2023
  • Word count 1,025

Always Remember Your Swimsuit

Even “normal” adult mother-daughter relationships are difficult to navigate. You know the “normal” that “they” speak of. The “normal” where there are no substance abuse/mental health issues. Where there’s healthy communication, and minus a few spells of teenage rebellion, childhood was happy and there are no major complaints. Those story-book relationships still have their issues as the daughter grows into an adult and seeks an independence that the mother isn’t ready to give her.

That is not my experience. In the last two years, I’ve learned that my mother was a functional alcoholic since my dad died when I was ten. I’ve recently accepted that though her alcoholism is being treated, her narcissism is not.

I’m not going to spend my time trashing my mother. That’s not what this article is about. It’s about finding triumph in the middle of chaos.

In the midst of the craziness, there were some good times. Maybe it was in a moment of clarity; maybe it was in fit of mania. Who knows? At this point, I don’t know that it matters. What matters is that I have good memories.

When I was twenty-eight, I was in the throes of what I call my “worst mania ever”. It was February, and my Valentine’s Day plans had just been shattered. I found out that the guy I was madly in love for a year with was married.

I was devastated when I called my mom. The next day, she showed up, unannounced. As she walked through the door (without knocking), she said one simple word, “Pack.” This wasn’t the first time she’d done this to me. So, I knew better than to ask questions and did what I was told.

As I was frantically deciding what to pack (laundry hadn’t been done in a week), she walks in my room and says, “Did you pack your swimsuit?” I reminded her it was February in Michigan and there was a foot of snow on the ground. She said it didn’t matter. I broke the cardinal rule of being her daughter and asked where we were going. Bringing my swimsuit meant we were going somewhere warm, which would influence what I packed.

“I don’t know yet. Which is why you pack your swimsuit. You never know when you’re going to need it.” She was right. We ended up going up north to St. Ignace, Michigan to a casino that had an indoor pool.

“Don’t forget your swimsuit” was one of her cardinal rules, when we would take our impromptu trips to nowhere. I never understood why, because sometimes we wouldn’t use them. “But at least we had them.” She would say when I’d say that bringing them was pointless.

To this day, I still pack my swimsuit. My boyfriend, best friend and I went away a couple of weeks ago, and I insisted that they bring their swimsuits. I specifically got a hotel that had a pool in it. We didn’t use them, but we had them. They complained just the way I used to, and I just smiled.

As an adult, I use “always pack your swimsuit” in my everyday life. But, it means more to me now than the literal sense. I took the connotation of the simple phrase to be, “be prepared for anything”.

For example, even though I cook for just me, I usually make enough to eat off for at least a week. In case the week gets busy, or I’m not feeling well enough to cook; I can just put something in the microwave. Also, it gives me enough time to go to the grocery store, if I am running out of something. It keeps me ahead of the game so I’m never without food.

When I write my books, I outline them. I want to know what happens next. Even if the characters switch up on me, I’m still somewhat prepared for whatever they throw at me. If they stop talking to me, I have a plan on how to push through until they start chattering again.

I tend to “always pack my swimsuit” when it comes to relationships too. This might be the one negative nuance to the saying. I try to put my best foot forward, and let the good things happen. But on the other hand, I’m preparing myself for something bad to happen. I always have my bags mentally packed if I have to cut emotional ties to save myself.

I’ve had to work on not doing that. It’s okay to not be prepared for everything. It’s okay to take things day by day and take chances, even if you might get hurt. John Lennon said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” And he’s right. You want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans. It is simply not possible for us to know how things are going to turn out.

Keeping your swimsuit packed in your everyday life may keep you “safe” in the dysfunctional sense of the word. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want people at my funeral telling stories about the times I played it safe.

I know that it’s a negative side effect from having the childhood I had. But that’s not my mother’s fault. She did the best she could with what she had. Yes, it’s baggage she placed in my luggage rack, but as an adult, it’s up to me to place that bag on the ground and leave it in the past.

The moral of this story? Have an umbrella ready for rainy days. Make sure you have a spare tire in case you get a flat. Keep powdered milk in the cupboard in case you can’t get to the store for regular milk. Be prepared for anything, but don’t be over cautious.

Just make sure you always have your swimsuit. It makes life fun.

I like long walks on the beach, candle light dinners, and flowers just because... Oh wait, this isn't that kind of site. Sorry, I never know what to write in these things. I'm Connie. I'm 45, live in Michigan, and have a cat. I'm just getting back into writing after a 7 year hiatus. I do have books on Amazon with two in the works. Please let a rusty author know what you think of my articles.

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