Her Bad Mother

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Requiem For A Boob

When I was a kid, my mom used to joke about her boobs. "They're tube socks!" she'd hoot. "I have to roll them up to get them in my bra."

I would cringe and recoil. "Mom," I'd hiss. "You're embarrassing me."

"Why are you so red, honey?"

"Because you're embarrassing me."

"I'm just talking about tube socks."

"You're talking about your boobs."

"Sweetie, my boobs are tube socks because I bore and birthed you and your sister, so if hearing about it embarrasses you, well, tough."

Then she'd cross her eyes and stick out her tongue at me. I'd run to my room at that point and discreetly peer down the front of my shirt and wonder whether I'd ever have any kind boobs, let alone the tube sock kind. Although I'd have preferred not the tube sock kind, at that point in my adolescence I'd have been happy with just about anything.

Ah, the deluded innocence of youth.

I grew boobs, eventually. They were never all that impressive - I was always skinny, with the type of cleavage that, in nature, attends skinny bodies - but they were there, and they were kind of cute. Perky. The kind of breasts that you never called tits or gazongas or hooters or even just boobs. You referred to them to them in the diminutive - boobies - or in the unsexed abstract - chest. So it was that when I got pregnant and, later, began lactating and those puppies grew - like, seriously, epically grew, like frightened puffer fish - I was both alarmed and thrilled. I had hooters. I had gazongas. I had BOOBS.

For a few uncomfortable but nonetheless thrilling years, I had a rack, and it was spectacular.

And now it's gone.

Gone, disappeared, deflated, defunct. It's as if, after watching me wean Jasper and my husband get his parts snipped, Nature herself gave my body the once-over and said well, you won't be needing those any more, will you? and unceremoniously removed them from my person.

They're gone now, and I miss them. I miss them, not only because they really were kind of epic - and what girl doesn't fantasize, occasionally, secretly, about what it would be like to have epic boobs? - but because Nature, in all of her douchey wisdom, did not restore my chest to its modest but nonetheless entirely presentable profile. Nature, being the stone-cold bitch-goddess that she is (the very same one who gave us menstrual cycles and the pain of childbirth and the indignity of random chin hairs), turned my boobs into tube socks. Just like my mother's.

Except smaller. Small tube socks. The tube socks of an adolescent boy with irregularly-sized feet. Because, yes, one is actually - oh, god - smaller than the other.

Which is why, when I found myself, yesterday, in the fitting room of the lingerie department, desperately trying to find a bra into which my breasts would not just disappear like a pathetic wad of crumpled tissue, I lasted all of three minutes before bursting into tears.

It's not that I want - what are the kids calling it these days? - a bangin' bod. I'd be happy with a bod that just pinged a little. I just want to not to not look in the mirror and cringe. Which I know goes against everything that I said a few months ago, but a few months ago I had boobs. Muffin-tops and extra ass-padding are one thing when you have the upper curves to balance everything out. They're quite another when your upper body looks like a deflated pool toy.

I'm straining to accept this new incarnation of me, to learn to love it as I've learned to love all the other incarnations. But I am finding, now, as summer approaches and I wrap my head and heart around the fact (is it fact? is it? I am still struggling with this) that I will have no more children, that I am still, in my way, vain, and that I want my beauty back. Maybe not the same beauty, the same body, the same sweet boobs of youth, but something, anything, that makes me swell with just a little bit of pride when I look in the mirror.

Or maybe just a tit-inflater. Anybody got one of those?

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Humanity I Love You

The world, sometimes, is an ugly place. A spectacularly ugly place. A place that is made all the uglier for the fact that its ugliness creeps in at the edges, smothering the beauty in its path. When you look at it through dreamy or sleepy eyes - rose-colored glasses, I think is the term - it seems unparalleled in beauty - a baby's smile, peonies in first bloom, a new Buffy The Vampire Slayer movie - until you blink and rub your eyes and look more closely and realize that in the shadows lurks such ugliness as you have never imagined. And suddenly the baby's smile fades, and the peonies wither, and the Buffy movie turns out to be a cinematic crime of such epic proportions to prevent you from ever seeing a movie again.

It's the kind of ugliness, as I said, that smothers and warps beauty, turning the world ugly for no reason other than proclaim the victory of ugliness. So it is, for example, that people proclaim that an image of beauty and hope - an image of a small child nursing her infant doll - is something sordid, in order to assert their belief that nursing is ugly and that bodies are ugly and that any practice of nurture that does not accord with their limited view of what constitutes love and nurture is ugly. So it is, for example, that people proclaim that the marriage of two people who love each other and want to love and care for each other for the entirety of their lives is a deviation, simply because the people who want to marry are not of different sex, in order to assert their belief that love is ugly and that sex is ugly if these do not accord with their limited view of the character and purpose of love and sex. And so by making these assertions, they drag in the cold specters of prurience and judgment and demand that we view these unarguably beautiful things - playful joy being derived from an act of nurture, the determination of two hearts to be joined in committed love - through a chilly hateful fog. Everything takes on the cast of ugliness through such a fog. Everything.

Such a fog creates hate where none existed before, where none should have existed before. I hate those who would make me second-guess a beautiful photograph of my daughter, who would force me to defend encouraging her in something - indulging the impulse to play at motherhood, to play at nurture, to teach herself the practices of love and care - that should require no defense, none at all. I hate those who would compel me to shake my fists at the state of California and shout words like evil and stupid and unfair, who would drag me into the ring to defend, again, something that should be beyond defense, something that should just be received as a given blessing - more love in the world, more hearts bound to other hearts, more hearts in exulting in the joy of sharing a life.

There is nothing sexual about a child pretending to nurse. There is nothing sordid about two men or two women loving each other. That I even have to draw together in a written breath the words sexual-child-nurse and sordid-two-men-two-women-loving is ugly and wrong because it just perpetuates the ugliness, it just gives it air to breathe, it just acknowledges that it is there and that fills me with anger, so much anger, and so the cycle of ugliness grinds on.

So I am choosing, now, to refuse the ugliness. I am not going to argue or rant or defend. Beauty needs no defense. It just is. And I am going to celebrate it.

This is beauty:

Let's celebrate it. Maybe, by celebrating it, we can chase the ugliness back into the shadows.

Teach your child to nurse a dolly. Tell your child that Barbie can fall in love with Barbie and that Ken can fall in love with Ken. Tell them that love - good love, strong love, love that doesn't hurt - is never ugly. Tell them, teach them, that caring for other beings, is always beautiful, no matter what it looks like. Tell them to fight ugliness by celebrating beauty. And you do the same.

Let's all do the same.

(Humanity i love you because you
are perpetually putting the secret of
life in your pants and forgetting
it's there and sitting down

on it)



Monday, May 25, 2009

One Kiss Breaches A Distance

"Hello, sweet girl," she said, swooping Emilia into her arms. "I've waited a very long time to meet you."

"To meet me?"

"Yes, you. I've known you your whole life, and now I finally get to meet you. And give you kisses." And with that she buried her face in Emilia's neck and gave her big, sloppy, raspberry kisses and Emilia giggled and squealed and my heart squeezed and I thought, how is it possible that these are the first kisses they've shared?

She's known Emilia since Emilia was only a few months old. And I've known - and loved - her children since they were small. We've been friends since we first found each other - found each other in this odd community - over three years ago, since I first found her and her secret place of mourning and saw my family's future there and saw in her, amazing her, the spirit of grace and love and hope and laughter and demanded - demanded - that we be friends. You will love me, I told her. And she did, and I did, and it was good. (She will tell this differently. She will tell you that she found me, and that she demanded friendship of me and that she forced her love on me. It doesn't matter.) (But I did find her first.)

I have loved her a long time, and she has loved me. But she had never met Emilia.

The wrongness of this is difficult to put into words. It's a kind of fundamental wrongness, a kind of wrongness-of-the-soul, the kind that puts the universe off-kilter, the kind that makes you wake up in the middle of the night feeling that you've lost something or are missing something but can't name it, no matter how desperately you grope the shadowed corners of your heart. It's the wrongness of lack, of absence. It's the wrongness that comes with not being able to share all of your joy with the people you love. It's the wrongness that comes with not being able to keep and hold all of that love together, close.

There are so many varieties of this wrongness. There's the wrongness of Emilia and Jasper not being able to share enough of Tanner's brief life. There's the wrongness of them having long distance relationships with their grandparents. And then, too, there's this: the wrongness of the distance of friends, of heart-friends who know them and love them because they know and love me, and the wrongness of my own distance and my children's distance from the families of heart-friends. It's a wrongness that weighs heavily, sometimes, on the soul, because it imposes a kind of partiality on love, because it prevents that love from being experienced to the fullest. Or to be less pedantic about it: it's wrong that I'm missing out on such important parts of the lives of some of my dearest friends and they mine and it sometimes makes me sad.

The Internet transcends time and space and allows us to frolic together in the code and light, but it does not replace time and space and real, wet raspberry kisses. It doesn't. It just doesn't.

So we had Auntie Tanis for a while this weekend and some of the gaps in our hearts were filled. Oveflowingly filled. But abundance sometimes makes one feel more keenly the lack, and so this morning, when Emilia said where is she I miss her when is she coming back, I felt the thud in my heart resound and vibrate, thrumming through the empty parts, and I knew that today I would miss her more than ever, that I would miss all of my heart-friends more than ever, and that I would probably sit in the corner of my garden and pout and whine and maybe shake my fists at the gods a time or two.

Which is exactly what I am doing now. That, and plotting an Epic Heart Friend Tour Of Love Road Trip. First stop: Redneckville, Alberta.

I hope you're waiting, baby. J-Man and Sausage Girl and Toady are a-comin'.

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