Saturday, January 26, 2008

United Boobs of America

Yesterday, it happened.

I couldn't go one more day. There on the corner of Harvard and Beacon Streets in Coolidge Corner in Brookline, I broke down. I glanced around, sighed and entered Lady Grace, a specialty lingerie store.

I had to get a new bra.

Do you have Mom Boobs? Becoming a mother does all kinds of things to your mind (and yes, your heart and soul and tolerance for cloying sentiment). But these pale in comparison to its effect on your breasts. Or rather, the Anatomy Previously Known As Your Breasts.

I can see your Dirty Pillows! Piper Laurie screamed at her teen daughter Carrie, a transluscent and freakish Sissy Spacek. Poor Carrie never went bra shopping with her mum.

My pillows have traveled the bumpy road from 34B to their current postpartum Salma Hayek state of 38D. And they've long since stopped hanging out together. I won't refer to the classic image of the tribal women in the National Geographics we all thumbed through as pre-pubescents, our first exposure to bare naked ladies...but ye, I just did and this is what my breasts most resemble, though they are pasty white and not chocolate colored. They are large and swinging and...okay, enough.

I was until today utterly defiant at the idea of spending another dime on clothing to accommodate my ever changing shape (having done so for the past 18months since being heavily pregnant and giving birth the first time). I'd taken to wearing my jog bras to keep things in order.

Ladies - it's not a bad idea to go and actually buy bras that fit and support you. When was the last time some kindly store clerk measured you? Probably at age 13, right?

Well, I sucked it up (or in) and fully confessed to the mammary authorities. "What can I help you with?" I was asked. They're so patient and kind, these breast containment professionals. They are all like great aunts who want to leave you their money but don't have any.

"I'm pregnant and nothing fits. I need help," I murmured, eyeing a black teddy I might have worn in a previous life (like two years ago).

"Oh my, we definitely need a larger band for you," she said in the privacy of the hideously lighted dressing room, taking one look at my sorry ass looking bra that fit about two years ago and was at one point, white and not the dishwater gray hue it was now. "Maybe we'll go to a D and see how that looks," she clucked, tucking in my ample pectoral flesh.

Here's the thing. She came back with a variety of options - and with some adjusting, they fit! They made me look better. And yes, I admit, they made me feel better. There was lift, there was support, there was cleavage! MY BOOBS WERE TOGETHER AGAIN. I was still huge, but in a glamorous, Queen Latifah way. Here's two things you might not know about wearing a bra:

1) Once you put one on, arrange the breast so the "nipple is in the center of the cup." I smirked and blushed when my boobhelper said this, only to be amazed at the difference it made in the fit.

2) You should be able to fit 2 fingers (no more and no less) under the shoulder strap if it is fitted properly and snugly. The difference this made in my interpretation of gravity was substantial.

So, swallow your pride (and that last mouthful of chocolate) and go get measured. Admit it - you're bigger (or smaller) than you'd like to be. Accept this and find yourself a real bra shop (no, Victoria's Secret doesn't qualify. Clerks must all be over age 50 and weigh more than 100 pounds). Take control. Own your boobs.

Remember, you don't have to have it all. You just have to get some.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Wishful Thinking

I want to be in a children’s book.

I don’t mean star in one. I don’t mean get my name mentioned. I mean live in one.

I’d like to be a blue dog that drives a car or a bear that talks or a rabbit that wears cute vests and ballet slippers. I’d like to live in a world where it’s ok for moms to go out for a bit and leave the children under the care of a Rottweiler. I’d like to see where insects talk – where hungry caterpillars get fed and lonely spiders make friends. I’d like to hang out in that great green room with the red balloon and giant fireplace. Who has a bedroom that big and cozy?

I’d like to spend a few decades where animals wear clothes and monsters have playdates. Where things are warm and safe and colorful, and the biggest worries are fear of the dark, a rainy day, not wanting to go to bed and wondering how much, exactly, I am loved.

I want to live in a world where problems get fixed in twenty pages or less. Where everyone feels good at the end, even a grouchy ladybug.

Where beings of various sizes, shapes, species, colors and nationalities converse reasonably.

Where bullies learn.

Where being different is okay, even rewarded. Where bears nap in mittens. Where green eggs and ham taste good. Where builders get the job done - with just the help of their cheerful tools.

Where things don’t have to make sense as long as they rhyme. Where it's ok to not know who your mother is. And where time passes - but only until you come back again.

I’d like to live in a children’s book.

For now, I’ll have to pretend.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Conversation That Never Happens

Two men, late thirty-ish or forty-something, face one another across a giant desk in an impressive office. The wood is cherry, the lighting expensive, the work vague and profitable and the coffee, brought by a good-looking, young female assistant.

Well Steve, you’ve had a great quarter, and I just wanted to check in to see how you’re feeling.

(enthusiastically patting his belly)
I actually have a lot more energy this trimester, Bob. Which is surprising, since I was sick as a dog the first three months. Heh.

I remember. You sprinted for the men’s room in the middle of the Dyson briefing. That was embarrassing.

Don’t remind me! Anyway, I’m feeling great now. No need to slow down yet until the baby’s born.
(He suppresses an ugly burp)
Sorry about that.

Yes. Well, that’s what we wanted to talk to you about.


Well, it’s only me in the room of course, but I have to use the proverbial “royal we” when speaking on behalf of the company.

Oh. Right.

Otherwise you could potentially sue me personally for saying something mildly politically incorrect, you know, in your current, ah, “state.”

Well, Bob, I’m here for the company, and if you need me during the first few weeks of the baby’s life, then I’m here too. Phone, email, you name it. I’m your man.

That’s great of you, Steve.
(sensing an opening)
So let me ask you, what are your thoughts on actually coming back after the baby?

(a bit taken aback)
Well, I do plan to come right back to work full time after three months.

But won’t you be tired? What about the breastfeeding schedule? What about sleep deprivation – have you thought about all that? Everything changes after a baby, you know.

I’m sure I can manage. I’ve multi-tasked before. Jen and I have discussed it.

And how does…Jen feel?

She wants me to do what makes me happy, and what’s best for the family.

And you have a nanny lined up? Daycare? Maybe your father can help out?

I’m interviewing people and visiting childcare centers now. I have picked a pediatrician. I’ve also pre-registered for swimming and music classes. They say that’s important.

I’m sure. You’re a busy guy, Steve-o. I don’t know how you do it.

I try to make things easy for Jen. She works hard. One of us has to take the lead on the home front. I’m sure I can manage it all once the baby is born.

Well, you might change your mind when the little one arrives. We’ve seen it before.

Again with the “we…”

Just calling ‘em as I see ‘em, Steve-o.

(a bit defensive now)
Well, there’s no need to worry about me. Millions of men do it every day, right?

(an awkward pause as the good looking assistant arrives with more coffee)Well, nice chatting with you, Steve. Keep me posted on the delivery, and if you need anything, just let Kathleen here know. I couldn’t find a piece of HR paperwork if my life depended on it.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

"Why I Love Kids" Photo Album

Hi everyone -

I'm not one to pass along silly emails (I'm far too serious and busy, ahem) but when this photo collection arrived in my inbox I couldn't resist. Some of these tot shots are staged, I think, but otheres are clearly spontaneous 'capture the moment' moments in kids lives. Enjoy - and if anyone knows the source of these snapshots, let me know so I can give full credit! Remember, if we can laugh at ourselves (and of course, others) it makes being a mom that much easier. P.S. Scroll down to the last photo - it's the best!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Feel like a Bad Mother? At least you're not Rose Mary Walls

The Glass Castle
By Jeanette Walls

Everyone is recommending this book, and as a former publicist and author of two novels published to deafening indifference, I’m not one to heap additional praise upon those who have already summitted the best seller list with no help from me.

However, in this case, I urge you to read Jeanette Walls’ The Glass Castle because, in addition to the fact that everyone you know is insisting you HAVE to read it, and you’re feeling somewhat like an uncultured, sheltered mumsie for not having done so, it is simply an astounding book, with a story as riveting as any fictional horror tale (ahem, James Frey). Now that I’m a parent, I read this book with a different kind of voraciousness. I simply could not believe parents could behave this way, or that their children could be so resilient, not only surviving but later thriving, with nothing but their own wits and each other as resources.

The Glass Castle is the story of a poor family as they move from place to place, the parents skirting responsibility, convention and authority every place they go. They live in their car, in an abandoned train station, an inherited house for a brief, comfortable time, and finally in a poor West Virginian mining town amidst some strange and abusive relatives who eventually kick them out.

Imagine your three year-old at the stove by herself, cooking a hot dog for dinner (because neither of her parents can be bothered to do it) and then catching fire. Imagine your daughter and son scrambling through the school garbage cans after lunch period ends, in order to both survive and also avoid the shame of sitting beside children with fully packed lunchboxes. Imagine your daughter coloring on her skin where the holes in her pants are, so as to better disguise their condition. Imagine your family of six living in a dilapidated, condemned house with no electricity, heat or plumbing in the dead of winter, and you as a mother telling your kids to “pick off the maggotty parts” of the ham to eat. Imagine their father stealing their hard earned cash savings to go on a drinking binge, and you hoarding a fat Hershey’s candy bar all for yourself, hidden in your bed, as your children shrink to skin and bones. And yet, they love you.

All of this not due to illness, terrible hardship and unforeseen circumstance but simple…will. Wall’s mother fancied herself an artistic type who had no use for domesticity. Her father was a dreamer, a romantic, life with him seemed an endless adventure that eventually became less fun as she and her siblings grew older and wiser. He was also an incurable drunk. Perhaps what is most incredible about Wall’s experience and indeed her voice in this memoir is her matter of fact style as she recounts her childhood horrors with no self pity or bitterness. There is even a remarkable though controlled, affection as she writes about the family’s adventures and her father’s promises, and the fact that they all stuck together until things became so unbearable, and the children old enough, to venture out on their own.

The book opens with the well dressed, now married Walls traveling in a taxi through the streets of New York City. By chance she glances out the window and sees her mother rooting through a dumpster. She meets her for breakfast shortly thereafter, offering her help and resources – which her mother steadfastly refuses.

After all she has been through, after all she and her siblings suffered at the hands of their neglectful parents, Walls has earned the right to turn her back on them completely. But she never does, and the remarkable peace she seems to have made with them speaks to the power of family, however you define it.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


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