Friday, July 03, 2009

Uplifting

It had to happen. And today was a perfect day to make it happen.

My daughter has been taking the heat all week for an article she had published in the Boston Globe. Writing in her usual humorous and self-deprecatory style, Jenn related how she and her two little girls handle the everyday occurrences of living in a very small house and how they often share moments of nudity (and hilarity). The vitriolic comments that followed her article were hard to read - mean-spirited and judgmental accusations which alleged that she was a "corrupter of civilization". How dare she show her naked body to her small children! How dare she answer their questions about such naked bodies!

What the inflamed, self-righteous readers fail to realize is that my daughter is one of the kindest, least judgmental people on this planet. She is also one of the walking wounded. Divorce and mental illness have become a part of her everyday life. She certainly didn't 'ask for' such heartbreaking circumstances but she has taken the cards she's been dealt and plays them with courage, compassion, and humility. She has had more than her share of what some will call bad luck for the past few years: job lay-off, nil finances, medications wreaking havoc with her memory and writing skills. Somehow she wakes up each day and struggles to find meaning and give meaning to the people in her life, including her priority - her precious two daughters.

There is not a mean bone in Jenn's body, so for her to read the hateful commentary following her magazine article came as a shock. However, she has met the hatemongers straight on and asserted herself online. I wish I could be as brave.

Knowing all this and how crazy a week it's been, I called her this morning. She needed a diversion.

Me: "Hey, Jenn, I really need to go shopping this weekend for clothes for my trip. I'm flying to Vancouver next weekend and nothing fits."

Jenn: "Sure, let's do it. I know you like to use me as your personal assistant on this kind of stuff. (Laughter at other end of the line.) Funny how I'm great at dressing other people but never take care of my own wardrobe."

Me: "Super. I'll pick you up for breakfast and then to the Mall. I really need a bra."

We do breakfast and a couple hours later ...

Jenn: "Find the fitting room. No, no ... don't touch the lingerie. Just give me your size and LET ME pick the bras."

Me: "You're such a good daughter. I have to look really nice for the visit to the television set."

Me (in fitting room with my daughter): "Wow, I hope these bras are what I'm looking for."

Jenn: "You've trained me well, Mom. A good foundation garment sets the tone - then we'll find you a nice top."

Now, if anyone reading this has had a problem with Jenn's Boston Globe article, I suggest that you stop reading right now. Go open your Reader's Digest. NUDITY AHEAD ...

Me (now stripped to my waist and struggling into Jenn's first choice for my foundation garment): "Er, are you sure this is my size?"

Jenn (chuckling): "Mom, the first rule of a good fit is to hang those puppies down and slide 'em into the cups."

Me (wishing I had inherited my father's genes rather than my maternal Polish peasant-stock knockers): "Okay, they're in. I hooked up the back. What do you think? It's a 'minimizer'. (Ha! That's like trying to hold back Niagara Falls with a bucket!)

Jenn (professionally as if she's done this for years): "Let me slip my fingers in here and pull the straps up a bit. Okay, this one works."

Me: "I need a sports bra today for when I finally return to the gym."

Jenn (looking dubious): "Mom, that's not what we came for today. Let's concentrate on everyday apparel and your upcoming trip, eh?"

Me: "Should I try the other two on?"

Jenn: "Mom, treat yourself. You certainly need more than one considering what you own right now."

I try, I squirm, I wiggle my aging, abundant flesh into my personal assistant's tasteful selections. She eyes me critically and helps me decide on the final choices. I look at myself in the mirror and wish that my youthful, perky bosom was staring back. As my best friend would say, "It is what it is. Deal."

By now, Jenn has found a bra or two for herself and proceeds to strip and try them on. She is now almost forty, the mother of two.

Our bodies are the bodies of women who have gone through many transitions. Jenn reminds me of this and we both take a moment to honor the reality of our soft flesh, curves and cellulite. We are what we are. We are real women.

We hug and smile. Our bodies are no strangers to each other. She sees her future; I see my past.

I suddenly say, "God, how sad about those commentators. They could turn all that negative energy into something positive, like an uplifting bra."

She looks at me and we are now laughing so loudly that we fear a sales assistant will come rushing in to check on us.

Between the giggles I manage to blurt out, "I meant an uplifting blog!"

36 comments:

Mags said...

Hi Elaine. I'm sorry to hear about the negative comments towards Jenn's article. Nudity is an issue for people who are narrow minded. I think it is one thing for opposite genders to be running around naked together and a completely different thing for same sex genders to be nude in each other's presence. An innocent encounter, such as the one you describe in the dressing room with Jenn, and I'm sure what occurs with Jenn and the girls is a non-issue. People need to get over themselves.

Deb said...

Ohhh this is priceless!!! Laughing with you!!!
What a blessing you are to each other. I am so glad you are living close and get to spend time together like this.

Meg said...

I hope for this with my own mother some day. What ease you have with each other. How beautiful. I have an easy relationship with my mother but we don't get to shop much alone and we rarely change in front of each other. But hopefully someday. :) Thanks for this. It's good to laugh!

Terry said...

I am trying to picture all this and I am getting the giggles myself! I loved Jenn's piece in the Boston paper and could hardly believe the stooooopid comments! I told her to ignore them, but I know myself that one evil comment trumps 20 great ones everytime. Boo. Glad you were able to have a good laugh together. Laughter really IS the best medicine.

STW said...

Excellent. You and Jenn are both a blessing. Fo rizzle.

Jenn said...

Oy! How did I get so lucky, so blessed?

I love you.

moxiemommachef said...

word @shel. fo' rizzle.

blessed to have each other too.

keep rockin' the uplifting bras and blogs, mater!

badmummynocookie said...

Like mother, like daughter, like mother.

So happy you have each other.

ClumberKim said...

Uplifting, indeed. I'm glad the two of you have each other.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

This really makes me miss my mom.

Simon said...

You guys both rock the casbah.

Boobies!!

geogirl said...

Does Jenn rent our her shopping services? I need someone cool to go shopping with.

Heidi said...

What a lucky daughter you have! No wonder Jenn is such a terrific mother.

Indigo said...

I came over from Jenn's bra (ahem, blog I meant). I can only hope I have this very same relationship with my daughter. Skye is now 21 and I just turned the double 22. We've never hesitated to share a dressing room together. I think prudence keeps a child from having a healthy perspective toward themselves. Enjoyed getting a chance to get to know you. (Hugs)Indigo

AmyinMotown said...

I have a less than easy relationship with my own mother, and hope to have something like yours and Jenn's with my own daughter. What remarkable women you both are and wonderful examples for those little girls.

Bethany said...

This is perfectly sweet. Reminds of a conversation I overheard in a dressing room. Two ladies were shopping for a cruise, trying on swimsuits and such. They were giggling and talking about times (and body-shapes!) past - they were probably close to 60, and seemed to have shared a great, long friendship. It made e smile for the rest of the day, and hope to carry close friend and family relationships to that level. :) Be well!

rbarenblat said...

You are fabulous. As I move toward motherhood myself, women like Jenn -- and you -- are awesomely inspiring role models for me. Than you.

slouchy said...

perfect. the two of you are quite a team.

Zip n Tizzy said...

My hope is that my boys will have lovely girlfriends or wives who will help me bra shop once they're grown. I doubt by then the boys will want to join me in a dressing room. For now, however, we'd sure miss out on a lot of great swimming if we weren't willing to change with one another, and that would be a terrible shame.

I love the relationship you and Jen share.

Ree said...

Just hang them puppies down. ;-)

Perfect.

I love Jenn. Now, I think I love you, too.

Anonymous said...

Mater, you are really truly as wonderful and kind and funny and supportive and talented as your daughter has always said you were.

Heather said...

Hilarious! So glad you two have each other---she was right--no doubt where she got her writing genes. Lovely post!

Lori said...

I had to quit reading the comments on the article. Thankfully, they are not an accurate reflection of Jenn. The vitriol just exposes their own twisted thinking. It amazes me how some readers completely missed Jenn's point.

Rebekah said...

I am so glad you have each others' backs (and fronts) - with this kind of love and support, you both seem to get through some very trying times with grace, humility, and a giant dose of humor.

I have been reading BEAW for about a year and I love it - some of the comments on the Boston Globe article were just ugly and small-minded. Eff 'em.

Kirsten said...

I posted on Jenn's Facebook page that my sister and mother and I used to go bra shopping and all cram into one changing room and laugh our heads off. Ah, the memories. We're overdue for a family undergarment shopping trip, I think.....

Amanda said...

This made me weep. Happy tears. Was in Pownal this weekend, ambled over to the W-town "parade." Thought of you both.

steverino said...

This is moving, and funny! What a wonderful, open and honest relationship the two of you share.

Mama JJ said...

This is a beautiful post. I so appreciate hearing other women talk about their bodies with candor and love. I need to hear that.

MemeGRL said...

Is it crazy to say that fitting rooms are one of the places I miss my mom the most? Thanks for this lovely bit of defense and a lovely look at a mother-daughter bond.

Patois said...

What a magnificent lift up you are able to give each other.

Leah said...

Great post :-)

And, um, if you found a minimizer that works. . .I want to hear about it.

Erika said...

I think it is great! My mom and I always walked around naked in front of each other. I have two boys and they've definitely seen me naked too. They are just bodies. :)

Patti McCracken said...

First rule: NEVER, ever read the comments below the article. They're vitriolic crap. I've been everything from "stupid" to "deserves to die." --no kidding. So I stopped reading (and changed the locks).

Second rule (for the world-at-large): Do as the Europeans do. Naked is naked, it's not sex. Get over the hangups brought to us by our puritanical forebearers.

Becket Kate said...

I love you ladies. :)

Anonymous said...

We need more people like Jenn in the world. OMG! Some people out there are so small minded they might as well be declared brain dead.
I'd love to be on a panel on a show like Oprah or The View and hash this out with those morons who are so far up themselves they are virtually inside out! This really irks me to no end. I'm sorry that Jenn had to be exposed to the comments of prude, ignorant, moronic, socially inept people.
I for one applaud her for her article and hope she continues to write more uplifting and wonderful pieces of work.
Your experience at the mall is much like what I share with my mum and my own daughter. Lifting and shifting in front of each other and talking openly about everything from last nights dreams to bra sizes and what we like or dislike about our "boobs" to nudity and sex and all that's wrong and right with the world.
You lovely ladies are in my books...rock stars!! :)
~Chelle xxxx

pompomrouge said...

Last week I watched a BBC documentary about young women who are having plastic surgery on their genitals because they believe they are ugly and "not normal". It was tragic. If their mothers had Jenn's wonderful attitude and parenting skills maybe they would have been able to base their self-beliefs on real women instead of surgically altered women in pornos and been spared the pain. You two are Champions and a blessed example for S and H.