Yeah, I know, it’s a salacious sounding title, but it’s not what you think, get your minds out of the gutter.
Anyone who has read more than a couple posts on this blog knows that there’s been more than a few issues with getting to this weekend: the prom. Not the least of the issues was the dress itself: Santa Clause and I went through hell just trying to get the damn chiffon and jewel encrusted thing to our house. After it arrived, we reached our first issue: the fact that none of the women I’d spoken with told me how the dress was affected by my lovely daughters endowment. The first dress, the one that was hanging on the fireplace Christmas morning, didn’t zip up because of her bosom.
Then we got a second dress, sitting in a box, and exciting my daughter. It arrived, looked amazing, then she told me it was too big . . . fortunately only just.
Then came the discussion of cleavage.
See, as much flexibility as I’ve managed to muster here, I’m still a Dad. If it were totally up to me, she’d be in a dress that covered almost all her skin and had her head sticking out like Harry Potter wearing an invisibility cloak. (Yeah, I’ve read the books. Sue me, I had to read them all to my kids so leave the geek comments on your own computer, please.) But I’ve had to be far more flexible and Mom-like since being her only parent.
So after all the discussion of body suits and what will hold her in place so the dress doesn’t fall to far and keeps her from looking bad we bought one at Target and she tried it on. The tailor who took it in told her the dress was beautiful, but she called me unsure. The dress, you see, still fell farther down than she wanted and it made her look far more . . . well . . . out there than she or I wanted.
So here we were tonight cutting stockings apart to see if that would work. It didn’t, the middle of her dress exposing the nylon and looking just weird. We looked at the body suit and to my consternation, they’ve added padding – padding in a cup that was large, by the way. My daughter developed a lot and she inherited her mother and great-grandmother’s attributes so it’s not like she has a small chest. So why in the hell would they make this thing with padding to make them look bigger?!
In the end we found a strapless bra that she’s used before and realized that it worked so much better. Some fashion tape, a few adjustments, my helping her zip it up, all of it will hopefully adjust it.
“You’re not just saying it looks good to make me feel better, are you?” asked my daughter.
“No, I want this to work as much as you do, but I don’t want you looking . . . available, either.”
That’s the end of the conversation.
But there was a part of the evening that really stood out to me. (No, don’t go there, get your awful minds out of the gutter. Just because we’re talking about boobs doesn’t mean everything’s about boobs!) In the search for what would work I was tossing out ideas and Abbi just kept shooting them down.
“No, that makes it worse.”
“No, that’s going to do the same thing.”
“No, it would hurt.”
I finally said, apologetically, “I’ve never had to deal with this before, so I’m making it up as I go along. I only can do what I have seen or heard or think might work.”
“It’s OK, I figure it out as I go. Mom had to do it, too, so I will.”
And that’s the thing. Abbi and I both are dealing with and learning things as we go. Yes, I have family, friends, loved ones, all those people can help us I suppose. But when I thought it would help in buying the dress it was a miserable failure. That one statement by Abbi showed me exactly what we’ve known and practiced but never really talked about: we’re figuring it out on our own.
And that’s OK.
Abbi’s right, her Mom did have to figure it all out by herself. Andrea was taller, sure, than Abbi, but proportionally about the same. Andrea’s Mom, however, was so uncomfortable with any kind of thoughts, ideas or discussion of sex, boobs, private parts, love, childbirth, that Andrea was completely alone. I knew but until now never realized just how hard it was for her and how much she went through in trying to become the woman she was. Andrea was a beautiful woman and as a girl wanted to be that beautiful woman. Not the popular, evil, cheerleader who used people to get ahead, no Andrea was just fun and pretty and loved to go out and dress up. As much as her Mom wanted her to have a good life and survive in the real world she never prepared her for it.
So now, in hindsight, I wish I hadn’t tried to rush her or get frustrated when it took her so long to do her makeup. When she did her hair and picked out outfits to wear for the night it really was a measured, refined process. I feel like I had killed some of that spark after pushing her to speed up all those years of our marriage. She didn’t even have her Mom to help her figure out what to wear or what bras to buy . . . nothing like that. Her sister was a tomboy and not built the same, so they didn’t have that connection. Andrea knew how to put things together and make everything work and solve problems.
So now, Abbi has to do it herself as well. I am happy she comes to me and we try to solve it together.
“I want to find one of those places like Ulta to do my makeup on Saturday,” she said. “I don’t trust anybody else. The only person who would have done it right was Mom. I wish she’d showed me how.”
So do I. But she solved the problem. Without realizing it, she’s like her Mom . . . in all the best ways today. I know they use that awful, cheesy line of “it takes a village” to raise a child, but we are the village: the five of us. We get help from outside sources, but more often than not, we have to make adjustments to the advice we would have done on our own. I mean, we need that help and that advice, but our first line of defense is always ourselves.
The best proof of that came right as they were all heading up to bed. My middle daughter, Hannah, wanted to show me her homework: putting together a coat of arms. She’d looked at everything from both families, tried to find it all and used some school website to get a computerized version of it. On the bottom was a ribbon of parchment with a Latin saying on it.
“What’s the saying there, Hannah?” was my question.
“Yeah . . . ” she said with a grin and a small blush on her face. “Abbi helped me with that. I needed a motto for that and Abbi told me I should use what you tell us all the time.”
“We’re stronger together than we are apart.”
I say it a lot, as a matter of fact. As hard as life is, no matter where we go or how far we end up living from each other, we have each other. I want them to know they’re never alone. I want them to know it’s true, and this night, the consternation of boobs giving more grey hairs, we epitomized it.
It’s a great feeling, though, to know my kids don’t just say but live the philosophy. We are stronger together than we ever are apart.