Before I had children, a girlfriend told me her boobs never looked the same after being pregnant. What she actually said was that they were a pitiable excuse of their former selves and that she could not stress enough that if I ever got pregnant, it was imperative that I wear a bra at all times. She grabbed my arms and looked at me with a serious, almost crazed look. “Do you understand the gravity of what I am saying?” I did. Being a nurse, I had seen the tube sock full of sand look many times, (mostly on the over eighty crowd) and already felt it wasn’t for me. So, the first day I saw the little pink plus sign, I headed out to the mall in search of bras, determined not to suffer from this dreadful fate. I detest shopping in general, but underwear shopping induces in me a special sense of dread. I have researched online, asked friends, read how-to shopping guides and tried hundreds of bras on in various department stores. But, no matter what preparation I do, when I get my purchase home the result is always the same: I end up with a contraption that seems to have been specifically designed to cause misery and discomfort to me personally. So bra shopping inspires more than my usual shopping trepidation. My anxiety manifests itself in confusion, cold sweats and some minor facial twitching. It is impossible to browse discreetly though the underwear department when you are sopping wet and jerking uncontrollably. Salesladies flock to me to ask, “Do you need some help?” Not really wondering what I might be there to buy, but more so do I need an ambulance.
This particular shopping expedition was different. This time I had a mandate. Whenever I was about to lose my resolve and leave the mall braless, I would force myself to envision my nipple line and waist line being one in the same and I managed to soldier on. After a few painful hours of what I imagine were the highlights of “the year’s nuttiest shoppers, the security camera files”, I was able to find a somewhat comfortable, thin sports bra without wires or sharp protuberances. It didn’t offer much in the way of coverage, but it was just for sleep, so I thought it would do the trick. And I have to say it did. I have without fail worn one of these sports bras every night since then, through not one but two pregnancies and two nursing babies, and so far I have only seen a minor decline in boob altitude. It gives me a great sense of pride to know that my diligence has paid off and that my boobies are still in the vicinity of their point of origin, even though as a rule, no one outside of my husband ever sees them. That being said…
Today I had a meeting with my son’s teacher, the speech therapist and the school guidance counselor. Running late, I had to get dressed in a hurry. I put on the only shirt in my closet that was ironed and ran out the door. Throughout the meeting, I noticed the three ladies exchanging glances. I was puzzled, and a bit unnerved. Were they about to tell me something unpleasant about my son? Was his minor speech problem much bigger that I imagined? Nothing tragic was brought up, but I still felt that I had missed something. Afterward, I paced the house for several hours going over the meeting in my head. I had asked intelligent questions, I stayed on point, and the meeting ended on a positive note. What was it? It took me a while to place it, but then Voila! While brushing my teeth I looked into the mirror, and noticed something: my still somewhat pert boobies were staring right back at me. I had forgotten to change bras. I had the night time, paper-thin, leave nothing to the imagination bra on under my already thin, white shirt. The result was almost pornographic.
I began to panic. The thought of these three school officials thinking I had gone braless to an important conference that could affect my son’s educational future was sickening. I was a school volunteer, an active member of the PTA, and now an exhibitionist. My mind raced. Was it possible to avoid taking or picking up my son from school, for the rest of the year? Was it feasible to move? At least change school districts? It was almost dismissal time and I had only minutes to come up with an executable plan. I decided that my only hope was to change bras and head back up to the school wearing the same shirt, and act as if nothing had happened.
When I got to the school, my son’s teacher greeted me at the door. “How was your day, Mrs.Thrift?” I started. “Mine was so busy! I haven’t even had time to go by the house since I left the meeting this morning. I have just been driving around (in my modest full-coverage bra) running errands all day long.” She looked a little puzzled. I imagined her inner dialogue, “Did I imagine the whole thing? Was it just a lighting issue? No one’s boobs could’ve been that perky.” I left the school feeling triumphant. My glory was somewhat short-lived, as when we got into car my son asked, “Hey, mom why is your shirt on inside out?”
There are lots of things I view differently now that I am a parent. One is that now if I see a woman wearing black underwear and a white skirt, or a strapless dress with large dingy bra straps fully displayed, I don’t think fashion faux pas or even “Ho”. I think there is a woman who did not have time to check the mirror, a fellow overtaxed and time constrained comrade, another mom.