Months of endlessly pestering had finally paid off. The end of 8th grade was coming in two weeks, and I was determined to get an early present, even if it killed me.
In 1965, I was thirteen and completely flat-chested. While the other girls flaunted their lacey symbols of womanhood under crisp white uniform blouses, I sported a cotton tee shirt. I was what people called a late bloomer. Springâ€™s first bud had yet to form on my bony body, but I was adamantâ€”chest or no chest, I was going to get my first bra!
â€œYou donâ€™t need one,â€ Mom said gently. â€œItâ€™s not your time.â€
â€œBut Mom!â€ I cried. â€œI feel like such a baby. I want to be like everyone else!â€
â€œIf I say yes, does that mean youâ€™ll ask to shave your legs and wear nylons too?â€
I had thought about making that request next but kept my mouth shut. It was best to accomplish one task at a time and not push my luck.
â€œNo, just the bra!â€ I squealed, hoping sheâ€™d agree.
Unable to stand my whining any longer, we went to buy my unmentionables that afternoon. As she handed me over to the store clerk, Mom let out a long sigh. â€œLucy, set her up. Sheâ€™s driving me crazy!â€
From behind the counter, the saleswoman pulled out a measuring tape that could engulf three womenâ€™s bodies. Placing only a fraction of it around my shivering ribcage, she got the dimensions needed, then went to a drawer labeled â€œYoung Teenâ€ and pulled out a white, nondescript training bra. There was no underwire, no cup, no padding. There wasnâ€™t even any lace, just a tiny pink bow sewn in the middle. And I was thrilled beyond belief. My mother was another story.
As we walked out of the store, I noticed tears brimming in the corners of her eyes. â€œMom, this is nothing to cry over,â€ I said, carefully reaching for her hand. â€œGirls get these every day.â€
With a loving look, she hugged me as if she was about to lose something precious. Then she said, â€œYouâ€™ll understand when you have your own babies.â€ She was right.
Parents instinctively know their child will need food and water for growth, as well as an unconditional love for a healthy soul. Discipline, education, morals, and values are also important. But it wasnâ€™t until I had my own kids that I understood how crucial my support would be, even when I didnâ€™t agree with what they felt they needed.
Then, from out of nowhere, they too turned thirteen. I was no longer the center of their universe, and I sensed them slipping through my fingers. I finally understood Momâ€™s sadness at Lucyâ€™s Lovely Lingerie that day. She hadnâ€™t been ready to let me grow up and wanted to freeze-frame my childhood.
But despite her pain, Mom knew it was time to take the first step in releasing me. The day wasnâ€™t about buying support for her daughterâ€™s chest, but about helping me feel good about myself, despite the sadness it brought her.
Today, my children are adults with lives all their own. And, like my mom, I mourned over and over their growing up. But Iâ€™ve come to understand that while the bulk of my work is done, the one thing theyâ€™ll always need is my support.
Motherâ€™s Day is coming and this year I plan to be the one to give them a gift. Iâ€™ll find the largest box and line the edges with a promise to assist them whenever they need me. Next, Iâ€™ll fill it with my approval for the choices they make for their lives, even if their decisions take them far away. Finally, Iâ€™ll tie it all together with a pretty bow that aids in holding onto any dream they may have.
Over the sixty years I had with my mom, the one thing I learned was a child, no matter how old, will always need the love and support only a mother can give.