"Mommy, They're Long"
A story every mom will appreciate from Chrishaunda Lee Perez's “Yes, i Brought It Up” essay series on her website, Me Time...
Kids say the darndest things, don’t they?
I was leaning topless over my six-year-old daughter trying to reach something on her night stand table. As if she was given whiplash by my breasts, she exclaimed to me, “Mommy, they’re long!”
My husband was within earshot, but luckily or him, his back was turned to us. He is lucky that I did not hear a chuckle. Double lucky that I did not see his shoulders bounce from trying to laugh silently to himself.
I turned to my daughter and covered my breasts, that, now, since she has declared them practically elephant trunk-like, felt more like an embarrassment, and I declared right back to her, “Well if you drank water instead of nutrients when you were born they might not be so long! And your baby sister will most certainly bring them to the floor! All of this for a couple of ingrates!” My husband didn’t speak but I know he wanted to laugh. My daughter, not having a clue what an ingrate is, let alone what else I was ranting about, just asked me to move out of her way as she was trying to focus on her tablet.
Sooooo many things go awry with our bodies all for the sake of having a baby. While I think I am actually on the lighter end of those things, I know we all have a story to tell and they are all relative. Meaning, every single one has significance regardless of how extreme or not extreme the stories are perceived.
This leads me to fast forward ten years when my first born will be having major hormonal issues of her own and I as a mother will have to understand an unexplained slamming door, random flippant behavior, or blatant disrespect. I will wish to dig up a deeply buried picture of my sagging breasts to remind her just a fraction of what I sacrificed for her and maybe that will get he to humble herself in the moment.
Yet the truth is, your kids probably won’t “get it” until they have kids of their own. Some still do not “get it” even by then. While walking down the street I have witnessed a woman totally irritated by a son on her left and let him have it verbally, and when the woman on her right who looked to be the woman’s mother tried to chime in, the woman let her have it, too. Empathy is overrated, and sometimes the initial toddler drama that leads to the child insensitivity and unconscious inconsideration that leads to teen angst for our parents doesn’t change with the process of cultivating families of our own. It simply evolves into adult irritation for aging parents.
I am convinced that the clueless “Mommy they’re long” comment that came from my daughter’s mouth derives from a sentiment that our children have a challenging time seeing us parents as breathing, feeling individuals like they are. Hence the kicking and biting us without abandon when they are toddlers, to being berated from a teen or adult child when we are just trying to help. When we tell them things like, “You’ll see when you have your own children!” Or cursing them with the famous, “For all that you do to me will be double for you when it’s your turn!” are all exclaimations that serve our egos alone in the immediate sense to say it, but years later it hardly computes to our kids that the reason why our grown-up daughter’s now three-year-old son chooses to keep spitting his food only in her face is because when our daughter was his age she used to deliberately break glasses on the floor.
So I go back to the original comment about my perceived to be elephant trunk-like breasts and wonder if this is just mild punishment for something I did to my mother when I was six. I draw a blank. I don’t really remember being anything other that a sensitive, caring child around her. Right. That is about as true as the moon is made of cheese and there are few people who would search the pockets of their minds to find out when they were not their best-even when they were kids. So of course, when we become parents, we are not humbled by the antics of our children and assume that each conundrum caused by them is payback for something we did years ago. We in fact respond like all amnesia-ridden parents do. We scream, “I don’t deserve this!”
I guess what I wanted was for my daughter to say nothing about my breasts, to not remind me that my body is sinking into oblivion as my current space renter is being fueled and nurtured to take on the world “care of ALL OF ME”. My daughter wasn’t at all trying to be mean. She was only being a typical honest child who stated what she saw. It’s like the time when she let me know I had a gray eyelash in front of everyone at a museum when I leaned down to kiss her forehead. Only stating what she saw.
It could be worse. I guess it could be like the only time I actually do remember being mischievious when I invited my neighborhood five-year-old friends inside of my house so they could have a look at my dad as he got out of the shower. Boy was he embarrassed. What if I turned around coming out of my shower and there was a handful of six-year-olds all staring at me pointing and saying what my daughter said to me…
Yes, at the moment, I am the definition of hormonal, so everything gets my goat. And as for my body, I know that I will in time settle with this newer body shape as well. I will, as I did with my first child, get back in shape the old-fashioned way, even though- I have to be honest-I don’t know how much more latching on from another human being these breasts can take! However, if the extent of my humbling experiences with my children do not surpass this level of embarrassment, I will then just thank my lucky stars that my children are behaving well within their limits of rudeness and deliberate sarcasm.