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.