But, today I have two brain cells to rub together and am full of B things to blog about like wide berths or births or brain cells, but the b thing I'm thinking about today is something that I wrote almost 15 years ago that I sent to a few magazines. Almost all of them said, this is hilarious but not quite right for us. Try ____. Inevitably they would name one of the other magazines I'd sent it to. Now it's sat in my filing cabinet long enough for shoulder pads to go out of style. At least I don't think they're in style anymore. Not even remotely. I think. But what do I know about style?? So without further ado:
To B or Not To B
I've always taken pride in the fact my self-esteem is not contingent upon the size of my bra. That's easy for a 36C to say, but I'm not. I'm a modest 34B, the "B" meaning barely.
In high school I danced. Our troop did a modern number called Boomers. We put our hands above our heads and jumped across the stage. The dance had an Egyptian quality. When this routine debuted at our annual spring concert; the "jock club" affectionately renamed it "Boobers." As you can imagine the bustier troop members did more bouncing than dancing. But not us barely 34Bs, which was fine with me.
In college, my more buxom roommates complained of backaches and bra straps cutting into sore shoulders. The less endowed wished that the more endowed could share. My "A" and B roommates anxiously explored the world of padded, under-wire and push-up bras. Not me. I had all I needed, all I wanted--just enough to distinguish me from the boys.
But that was then and this is now. Now is 15 years and 5 kids later. Five nursing kids later. My breasts are the size of mosquito bites and I don't need a bra, I need two Band-Aids.
When my last baby quit nursing, I hung onto that nursing bra, stuffing it with nursing pads like I'd always done. Besides, we'd moved and I couldn't find my old bras anyway.
Then from out of nowhere, one day while I was at ShopKo with my 5 children, a wave of guilt swept over me. Why was I still wearing that nursing bra with the pads 6 months after I'd quit nursing? I bravely reigned in my charges and headed for the lingerie.
"Why are we in the middle of the underwear?" my seven-year-old son asks uncomfortably.
"I need to buy a bra," I discreetly tell him. He rolls his eyes.
"How about this one?" My nine-year-old holds a purple lace number across her puffed-out chest.
"White, I want white." There's an edge to my voice as I try to find an A cup and keep tabs on my four daughters who have infiltrated the lingerie section eagerly fingering bras, panties and negligees.
"Just look for something white that has an A on it," I bark a little too loudly. Out of the corner of my eye I see a red-faced, middle-aged man quickly sidestep the pantie section.
"Oh Mom,choose this one," my four-year-old gushes. "The woman on it is so beautiful."
I take the bra from her eager hands. On the tag is a woman with cleavage to her nostrils. She's smiling seductively. The only time I've been anywhere close to that size is right after I've given birth and been engorged, and I wasn't smiling.
"Mom, will you buy this for me?" My nine-year-old is draping a bra across her chest. "You know I've been needing one." The cups hang to her knees.
"You don't need a bra," I say a little too loudly.
"I do to." She matches my tone.
"Your breasts haven't even started to grow yet," I fiercely whisper as I quickly retrieve what must be a D cup fro off my toddler's head.
"Mom, they just don't start growing all at once!" There's an implied "duh" at the end of her sentence. "And besides," she continues lowering her voice and edging closer, "what if a boy bumps into my chest? At least this way I'll be protected."
"Protected from what?" I ask.
"Well you know, b-o-y-s," she says.
"Bras do not protect you from boys," I tell her.
"But mom. . ."
I snatch the bra from her. "Besides, I don't need a bra that big."
"I need new underwear," my five-year-old reminds me. She's got a pair of leopard spotted panties pulled over her sweats. They're French-cut to her arm-pits.
My son is shuffling his feet at the edge of the underwear section pretending he doesn't know us.
My cart has a dozen bras in it and I know the store patrol has this thing about three items or less in the dressing room--obviously a rule invented by someone without children.
Little heads and bodies are poking in and out from underneath my dressing room door. I try on all of the padded, under-wire and push-up bras that ShopKo carries in an A cup trying to get some kind of lift. But they all sit squarely on my chest oblivious to where my breasts are.
"You look beautiful," my 4 year-old gushes again as I stand there in lacy, padded push-up that's doing absolutely nothing for me. I quickly redress as my toddler screams from somewhere outside my dressing room cell. I round up the rest of my girls and retrieve my toddler from the men's side. Then I emerge from the dressing room feeling like an ugly, grey moth who thought she was going to be a monarch.
"Which ones are you going to get?" my children want to know.
"None of them," I answer feeling defeated and deflated. What can I do? Go braless? Every woman I know wears a bra. People expect those lines on your back. And besides, what if I bump into a boy? At least I'll be protected. . . Yet no manufacturer makes a bra my size, that's because nobody my size needs a bra. But wait, I vaguely remember being this size before. I was eleven. I direct my troops toward the girl's lingerie section. You know, Pocahontas panties, Lion King undershirts, black, red and pink tights and ah yes, the training bras. These bras are little more than undershirts with the bottoms cut off. I grab two 34As and head for the exit. No need to try them on. They'll fit. I hope.
Everybody has their cross to bear and now I have mine. I wear my new bra much the same way Hester Prynne must have worn her scarlet letter. All it does is put those expected lines on my back, not to mention a few on my front. I slouch. Why should I stand up straight and draw attention to something that's not there? My chest is so narrow that it makes my hips and thighs feel extremely wide. I find myself apologizing to people for my small chest--"you see I used to look normal until I had five kids and they sucked my dry. . ."
I go home and take a long look in the mirror. I grab those saddlebags on my legs, suddenly realizing where my chest has gone. Now I'm not a likely candidate for augmentation. I've always thought that pumping silicone into ones chest was shallow, not to mention possibly painful. Besides, I don't want to be voluptuous, I just don't want to be mistaken for the opposite sex.
Do I regret nursing five children? No. The thought of getting out of bed in the middle of the night and making a bottle is still more than I can bear. And even now that I have a AA- cup size, my husband is grateful that I nursed so he didn't have to get up in the night and make bottles. Besides, maybe that's not even what caused it. I have friends who nursed and aren't flat. Maybe age did it. Everything's slipping down, down to my thighs.
But what am I to do? I can't go around slouching and making excuses to total strangers about my flat chest.
And that is how and when I discovered a whole new use for shoulder pads. And why not? They're cheaper than silicone and safer too.
(FYI-- It gets better; you get older and fatter and it all comes back. . . more or less.)