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!"