It was 9pm the night before we were leaving for our family’s annual beach vacation. I had just gotten the boys down and made a quick, very last minute trip to Target. Everything else was ready for the trip: laundry washed, dried, folded, multiple matching outfits had been packed into multiple suitcases and bags, camera charged and packed, pack and plays and walkers and laptops and books and snacks and diapers and swimsuits for everyone but me had been loaded into the Yukon. Which was why I was here at this hour - the last hour before the store closes - I could no longer put off the inevitable. Swimsuit shopping.
I had tried to get this done a few weeks ago but accidentally put Sawyers favorite snack - those puréed fruit pouches he lovingly calls “juice pack!” - into the cart before making my way to the swimsuit section. Cue full toddler temper tantrum meltdown. He hasn’t quite learned that we have to pay for these things before we can eat them. Like most moms, I quickly panicked, paid, and left the store for fear of being added to a “no longer welcome at this store” list - I doubt that exists at Target but I don’t want to be one to push them to considering that idea.
So here I was, 9:25pm, heading in to the dressing room loaded down with no less than 7 swimsuits of various cuts, colors, fabrics, and sizes because I am at that post-baby body phase where depending on time of day, what I’ve eaten, and how much my infant has eaten, I could either be a size small or a large.
Full disclosure here: I was excited to see the high waisted swimsuits were all over and was happy to easily cover that median line going up my the middle of stomach. I pulled on the first one and realized I felt like I looked like a giant baby in a diaper in this cut. “Dress for your body type” I heard in my head.
I tried on a cute two piece that had the low cut I had been rocking through most of my 20s. “Dress for the body you have, not the body you want” echoed in my head this time. A quieter voice reminded me to be kind to myself, I had just had my second child in less than 3 years.
As I frantically tried on the remaining swimsuits I got more and more discouraged. Nothing fit, I felt extremely self conscious, and even worse was that I was losing excitement for a trip that I look forward to every year.
Sadly, I returned all of the swimsuits to the racks while also glancing around to see if there was a magical swimsuit I had somehow missed. There wasn’t. As I made my way to the front of the store to leave this shirt caught my eye. A cute blue tank top with the word “BLESSED” boldly written across the chest. I stopped and stared at it. I wasn’t feeling particularly blessed at that moment but as I stared at the shirt a wave of positive thoughts filled my mind. “You’re going on vacation tomorrow, with people you love, to a place with sunny weather and white sand steps from your door, THAT is blessed.”
I began thinking of just HOW blessed I am - I am healthy, my children are healthy and happy, I have a roof over my head and plenty of food to eat, someone to love who loves me back, family, friends, a growing faith and relationship with Jesus, and here I was at Target with enough money to do a little shopping. Yes, I was not feeling the body positivity I had entered the store with, but maybe that minor loss is what I needed to be reminded of how great life really is and that I am the one who controls my reactions to things. YOU are in charge of your own happiness and maybe if we take a moment to realize our many blessings and be thankful for them, we can cultivate that happiness and turn it into some deep deep joy down in our hearts.
I did not get what I came to the store for, but I left with this shirt and so much more - a better attitude and outlook, and reminder to be thankful because I AM BLESSED.