As an awkward and prepubescent 12-year-old, I dreaded recess. It was the time when all the girls would pile into the bathroom to apply their glossy lip smacker and broadcast their beautifully bowed bras. Me, I had one of those handsome Fruit of The Loom tanks. UGH!!!! My mom and I had to talk!
It was a Friday morning and I stealthy walked towards my mom’s bathroom as she was getting ready for work. In my pre-teen mind, this was the perfect time to have the “My First Bra” conversation. I knocked on the closed door as I simultaneously declared “Mom, it’s time I get a real bra.” Pause…silence. I went to the provocative argument I had prepared, “Mom, it hurts when I run during PE in these tanks, my nipples get chaffy.” Nothing! So, I moved to my final, desperate argument, the one that all moms hate but inevitably answer “Mom, all the other girls have one!”
“Dammit, Liza, she yelled as she stormed out of the bathroom in full satin slip and Clairol hot rollers “Why do you always care what everybody else has!” She rifled through the drawer and tossed me a sad no-support beige polyester bra with a plastic front latch. “Perfect!” she exclaimed. “Make sure you wash it at night, so it’s clean in the morning.” She disappeared back into the bathroom.
I sulked/skipped to my bedroom half excited that I had finally gotten my first bra, and half mortified that it had a previous owner. I delicately draped it around my bosom, latched it in the front and twirled to face the mirror. My jaw dropped in horror as I stared at my reflection, this thing was a sad and saggy mess. I could have folded udders in it! “Mom,” I cried from my room “was this your first bra?’’
“Stick to wearing tanks then,” she retorted.
And that was the end of that talk.
Luckily, my mom has a wonderfully girlie girl sister, Irene. Aunt Irene should have had a daughter or at least a queeny son. But, instead she was blessed with two rugged and straight boys, so I had the honor of ALL her girlie spoils, much to my practical mother’s chagrin.
So, Saturday morning I was at Aunt Irene’s house, saddest-bra-ever in my hands and crocodile tears in my eyes. By Saturday afternoon I had three of the cutest and well-fitted bras. But, by Saturday night it was a sisterly grudge match over bras and rites of passage and constant undermining. “What was the big deal?” Thought my 12-year-old mind “Why does she care if Aunt Irene bought me these bras?” Then I prayed I could keep the bras, except the sad beige one.
It is hard to believe that was over thirty years ago. It’s harder to think that my daughter and I are on the verge of our “My First Bra” conversation.
Her dad and I were separated since her birth and do a pretty good job of 50/50 co-parenting. We discuss everything, so we’re prepared for the unexpected. But a training bra for a 9-year-old will be filed under unforeseen and unprepared. So, here’s how my ex and I had our “My First Bra for our daughter” conversation. “Um, you notice the changes in her body, right Liza? How do we wanna handle this? Why don’t you take the lead and..”
“I got this, Oscar,” I quipped.
After that initial exchange, I thought it best just to email him the plan. Ana would remain in camis through spring, and over summer break I’d do a whole American doll book/Rites of passage mother/daughter production where I would talk to her about the changes in her body and then take her out for ice cream. Aunt Irene would be proud!
Unfortunately, two days after the email, Karma came a-knockin’. It was a Friday (again), and the kids were coming home after being at their dad’s house for a few days. Ana peeled off her sweater, and under her t-shirt, I could see the OUTLINE OF A TRAINING BRA!!!!
MOTHER FUCKER!!!!! I…WAS…STUNNED!!!!
It took me a beat, but after I collected myself, I asked through gritted teeth. “Honey, where did you get that training bra?”
“Ashley got it for me,” she replied, “she said I needed it.” It turns out my ex’s much younger girlfriend thought it was time for my daughter to wear a training bra. Mother Fucker! This was my thing! Didn’t Ashley know I had a plan? A time frame? I called my ex, screaming about training bras and rites of passage and constant undermining. And suddenly I heard my 12-year-old mind ask “What’s the big deal?” Fucking Karma, there was the 30-year-old big deal! I felt terrible. I had inadvertently bra blocked my mom all those years ago. She too probably had a time frame that I stymied.
Later that evening I called my mom to apologize for my part in my first bra debacle. She hardly remembered, or so she said. We laughed and reminisced about rites of passage fumbles and time frame disasters. And, that night, my practical and patient mom was able to reclaim a robbed mother/daughter moment from so long ago by counseling me on how to regain mine.
Featured image @yellowberry Lola Bra via Instagram