Opening Pandora’s Box Or The Lingerie I Have In Storage

This never has been and never will be me. Image credit:

This never has been and never will be me. Image credit:

My bachelorette party was typical pre-wedding fare, except there were no strippers or alcohol.  My nearest and dearest indulged my desire to take a hip hop dance class together, and we (mostly) middle-aged ladies learned a few moves to Amy Winehouse’s Rehab.  Odd choice for a room full of ladies in recovery, but our 20-something dance teacher missed the irony. I guess she thought we were going out to get smashed after dancing and devouring the sweaty cubes of cheddar cheese my sister brought to nosh on.

In a grand show of support for my sexuality, my friends showered me with lingerie– all of it tasteful, befitting a 35-year old former Catholic school girl who spent the better part of two decades thinking premarital sex would open up a spiritual chute that would send her ass straight to hell.

After the party, I gathered all my soft, silky, lacy new “pajamas” and picked out the ones I would bring on my South American honeymoon.  The rest I put in a see-through Container Store bin I stored in my closet.  I wasn’t ready to wear it– I still needed to marinate in the idea of myself as a woman with a lingerie wardrobe, and let my sleeping-in-over-sized-t-shirts-and-boxer-shorts self die a peaceful death.

Six weeks later I found out I was pregnant, and I moved that bin of intimates to the back of my closet.  I still took my favorite Vera Wang piece and a few other simple silk things with me to Argentina, but the rest of it I hid away.  Banished.  It was too confusing to have my body bursting out all over the place in pregnancy and to think about the things in that box at the same time.

Our baby arrived, and my weight eventually stabilized, but still the box remained pushed to the back of the closet where I wouldn’t have to think too hard about being both a mother and a sexual being.  No thank you.  My plate was full with shifting identities, and I was dizzy from juggling mother, lawyer, wife.  I couldn’t possibly add a nighttime wardrobe and all that it implied.

Then, another baby was on his way.  My weight did that pregnancy thing again– up, up, up– and after my son arrived, it took its own sweet time coming down, down, down.  I’ve made it back into almost all of my old jeans and work clothes, minus a few blouses that aren’t forgiving of my post-pregnancy-and-nursing breasts.  Everything is back in place or as close as it’ll ever get.

And there’s that bin.  I can see the ribbons, and tags, and lace all smushed against the side of the box.  I see it everyday because I put it at eye level.  I’m scared to open it and pull out those gowns … nighties … negligees … or whatever they’re called.

I’ve reconciled all the other parts of myself that were submerged during the sexual wasteland that was my early motherhood.  I’ve made peace with my desire to work and the arduous tasks involved in arranging childcare.  I manage my mommy guilt with a stiff cocktail of chocolate, tears, and detachment from bullshit cultural messages.  I can feel that my identity is as solid as it ever was (or ever will be), but there’s that one more piece as represented by the intimates I’ve stuffed away, not so out of sight.

I won’t share much about that piece of myself except to say this: I am scared to open the box, but believe that I deserve to so I’m going to do it.  One of these days.


53 thoughts on “Opening Pandora’s Box Or The Lingerie I Have In Storage

  1. So what part of your husband is okay with you to hide away from you? If he gets to be like you, it’s the part that most needs to be honored and loved. This is what brought you children and motherhood, but is an emotional barrier from the person in this world you need most. And he needs most. You can pretend whatever you want, but it’s the two of you til the end. Unless you want to be like my ex, and old shrivelled, angry woman who can’t tolerate anything like actual joy. In her life or anyone else’s. Or there will be hell to pay.

    I wish there were a delicate way to put this but there isn’t. You may hate me for this, but this behaviour is telling him he is not trustworthy with YOU. He doesn’t deserve that. And it’s really not about sex. That’s the paper tiger. You’re just afraid. I get it. Apparently it’s time for you to get it. If it weren’t, you wouldn’t have posted it.

    • Exactly. I don’t hate you! I could hardly push publish on this if I wasn’t ready to say I’m ready. I’m sick of fear and I also need that room in my closet for other things that belong there.

  2. It’s so hard to switch gears from worker, to mommy, to sexual being. I don’t fault you for not wanting to open that box. But I’d think you quite brave if you did.

  3. Hard stuff. Being vulnerable. Ugh. I have a hard time with it, too, and I never even went on the motherhood-body roller coaster.

  4. Have to disagree with comment #1. It’s your body and your stuff and you get to take your sweet time about all of it. I don’t think the fear or delay means you’re withholding from your husband. How is forcing something you’re not ready for because of some perceived stereotypical image of female sexuality a path toward intimacy? What I’m saying is pull on all that lingerie or throw it in the trash or do anything in-between. I don’t think there’s a right choice, just the choice that’s right for COT.

    • Agreed. That first comment was very strange. A post about gifts that represent a social convention that never fit their lives together and that never will…what I heard in this post is that she doesn’t feel right putting on a costume. Maybe that’s because real people in real relationships aren’t playing parts and aren’t on stage.

  5. This piece kind of left me at a loss for words and kind of struggling to breathe, maybe because I’m right there with you. I’m not a mother yet, but would very much like to be, and the trying to get there is the piece of myself that I struggle with merging into my identity of wife, lawyer, sexual being. Thank you for writing this, even though it was hard for me to read. I’ll be thinking about this one for some time to come.

  6. While beginning the clean out project in order to eventually move, I came upon my remaining few articles of bachelorette party gifts. The ones I thought I would possibly wear someday other than on my honeymoon (which I did). So out of date! I finally, after close to 25 years, circularly filed them. There’s so much mental, emotional, physical “stuff” that goes into even opening that box or drawer as a mom, wife, employee, etc.. I’m betting there are a lot of us out there. The vulnerability thing, yes, is a hurdle. But even so, I was always exhausted from everything else over the course of a day that even if I was feeling it, my fingers had no energy left to open up that lid or drawer. Just plain naked would have to do if he wanted it at all 😉

  7. I remember trying to switch gears from nursing mama to sex kitten was so hard, especially when you really are just plain tired!!! And at 32 wks pregnant, I’m about to be on that journey again. I think its called life..

  8. Hey, I just say JUST BE COMFORTABLE. If you’re comfortable in big t-shirts and boxers, then that’s what you should wear. I’ve never owned that stuff or worn it. I’m not comfortable in it. I’m comfortable in stuff that covers me up and I’m comfortable being bare naked. It just sounds like you think you HAVE to wear it at some point or that you’re SUPPOSED TO or that you assume every other woman does, or…. that your husband wants you to. He probably likes you just the way you are and wants you to be comfortable just being you. Only you know. But don’t do it just because you feel pressured to.

  9. open the box!!! … says the chick who’s just got her sexy back and had the same box!! wear it all for every reason and no reason. it’s just laying there. enjoy it while you got it. 🙂

  10. Donate the whole box. There is no reason a mother of two needs sexy sleepwear. Nobody sleeps in those things, and nobody leaves them on for more than five minutes. Stupid. Wastes. Of. Money. There is no special uniform for sex or for sleep except what you have on at the time, and what you have on underneeth.
    Geez with the pressure to entice. A naked woman is enticing enough to any freaking man, especially when the naked woman is the brilliant and funny mother of his children. Just do the deed and give the fancy panties with made-up fancy names to someone who doesn’t know all the things you know.

  11. I so relate to this. I have a section of my closet full of the stuff and I’d much rather be wearing something comfortable. It gets some use, but let’s face it – who can actually sleep in some of that stuff and with kids around, that’s a deterrent too. When your kid hops into bed with you at 5 am, that’s not gonna fly.

  12. I don’t know what else you close under that box lid so many years ago, but I know for sure that you put away garments that other people bought for you, not ones you selected for yourself or that were given to you by your husband. It seems like you put away other people’s expectations back then. Keeping it closed doesn’t necessarily reflect on you.

    • I hadn’t really thought of that. You guys are making me think about the whole process whereas before I was just thinking, why can’t I get my sexy on IN THIS WAY? I am feeling more relaxed about all of it.

  13. I went through a very similar process this year, but without a box. I have three kids, and I never wore anything sexy to bed before last winter. It’s been a great experience for me and my husband. I’d recommend trying on everything in the box and seeing what you like first. If there’s anything, then try it out for your husband. If you don’t feel comfortable wearing something for him in person, (I know this sounds crazy) take a picture of yourself and send it to him. I know, that might sound really hard at first. But it really can make you feel sexy again after not feeling that way for so long (or ever). Also, it’s more removed than modeling it or wearing it at a time when the kids might barge in. Also, if there’s nothing that suits you in the box, try shopping for a couple of things yourself. Don’t get too hung up on sizes — I discovered that slightly too big lingerie looks a lot better than slightly too small! Also, even just a strappy nightgown might be all it takes, and it’s no big deal to throw on a robe if the kids are there. Good luck! Enjoy yourself.

  14. Here is the comment from the other side, from the man that didn’t feel sexy until he turned forty four, because of many reasons, but I’m sure you know what the biggest reason was. Everything in due time Christie and it is never, ever too late.

  15. This is such an incredibly loaded topic. That’s about all I can say about it at the moment, but I’ll be thinking about it for some time.

    Well, not specifically about you and your bin of clothing, because that would be creepy. Just the topic you bring up.

    And I want you to know, I almost said I wouldn’t be thinking of your “box of delicates” but I replaced it with “bin of clothing” just in time. There’s no inappropriate reference to a bin of clothing that I can think of.

  16. I don’t have a box. Wait, that sounded wrong. 😉

    If I DID have one, it would be a mental and metaphysical one. So maybe I do. But I haven’t opened it for a long time. I too am wife, mother, lawyer . . . but not at all prepared to return to the land of sexy lingerie time. I am so happy for you that you are back down to your pre-baby weight, because that second kid ruined me. I just can’t get it off, so there is really nothing sexy about 30 extra pounds of fat. So says I. My husband would tell a different story, but this isn’t about HIS box, now is it? 🙂

    • First, I love your sense of humor and love a sister in law/mom/wife. I may be back to the weight, but it’s all sorts of shifted around. Our husbands’ boxes is a different post. Coming soon….

      On Thu, Oct 17, 2013 at 10:37 AM, Outlaw Mama

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