Ahhh…. Mother’s Day: the holiday in which we celebrate our mothers, grandmothers, and mother figures for all that they are… their love, their hard work, their successes and their failures. It’s the one day a year that I hope to feel more like a princess than just another one of the guys. The one day where my 1V to their 5Ps really matters.
Motherhood is also the day that I spend thinking about the past year. Instead of reviewing every moment, I’ve taken to asking myself: do my victories outweigh my losses? This exercise (no matter how close the race) usually ends up a win and keeps me from focusing too closely on the bumpy ride along the way. Over the past year, I’ve struggled to juggle work and home successfully. I’ve also not been the kind of mother I’d always planned on being. But, motherhood is a much harder job than I ever imagined. And yet, my own mom made it look easy (thanks, Mom).
And, as far as I can remember, she never was involved in a birthday suit incident.
Truth be told, I wasn’t going to write a full blog post about this when it happened. It was traumatic enough without reliving it publicly. But then, I began seeing signs of potential post-traumatic stress syndrome so I figured I best get it out in the open. Seems better than hiding it and pretending it never happened until much later when his future therapist persistently asks why he thinks he gets nauseous and sweaty when he sees a woman’s breasts.
Mark the date: April 12, 2014.
It all started how nearly everything starts: I was minding my own business (No, really. I was.)
All I wanted to do was take a shower… alone… in peace. Just 10-15 minutes of quiet as I tried to strategize how I was going to get through the remainder of the day.
“The incident” happened just at that moment when the shower is finally hot enough so you kick off your underwear and pull the ponytail holder out of your hair and throw it on the counter (the rubberband, not the underwear). I was just about to take my victory step into the shower when The Chop bursts into the bathroom like he was on fire to tell me something completely unimportant.
I was standing smack dab in the middle of the master bathroom. There was no bathrobe or towel within reach and my feet felt like lead. My only choice was to stand there acting as if being totally nude in front of him was totally normal (while inside I died just a little bit).
His chocolate-brown eyes widened, his face turned ashen and he stood as still as a statue as he took in my full frontal nudity. After a moment, I heard a sharp intake of air, an obvious signal that he hadn’t just spontaneously died as I had feared.
Me (acting as nonchalant as I can muster while totally aware of ALL that was on display): “Jay, I was about to get into the shower. What is so important?”
He stared without blinking. I could hear his brain synapses firing wildly, but this little brain could not comprehend what he was seeing.
Chop: “Um….um… [blah, blah, blah — I swear, neither of us will ever be able to recall the mundane or momentary thought that sent him rushing into the bathroom on that cool April morning].”
And then, his eyes settled on my boobs, the life-sustaining physical scars of motherhood. Or, in more crass terms… two giant stretch marks with nipples. Time stood still.
Finally, his sweet seven-year-old face met my gaze again. I waited for the inevitable questions or quite possibly an utterance that fell somewhere between “eww” and “oh my goodness” (eww my goodness?).
Instead, he quietly turned on his heels and left the bathroom without a word.
Fast forward three weeks…
The Chop brought home “Who Was King Tut?” and asked me to read it with him. What should have been an enjoyable experience for this lifelong lover of all things Egyptian turned into a startling discovery of just how deep my son’s trauma ran following the eyeful he got just weeks prior.
Back in roughly 1341 B.C., parents weren’t naming their kids Apple, Blue Ivy or Coco. Nope, back then, names like Tutankhamun seemed mainstream. Fine for that time period, but for a kid with a one-syllable, three-letter name, you can imagine how hard it could be to wrap your head around Tutankhamun let alone pronounce it.
Finally, we could see that the book was finally going to utilize the boy king’s nickname, King Tut.
I was relieved until the first time The Chop used it. Yep, “King Tit” slipped out first. Sure, he corrected it quickly without a second thought, but it was out there… in the universe… for me to absorb and react to.
Frankly, it was like a knife in my heart, but I didn’t make a big deal of it. I silently noted it, chalked it up to coincidence and we continued.
“Probably one of the best known pharaohs of ancient Egypt,” the book went on, “Tut was a minor figure in ancient Egyptian history. The child pharoah of 18th Egyptian dynasty was the son of the powerful Amenhotep, a powerful man with an oddly shaped” head and very large hips for a man.” And yet, in spite of his looks, Amenhotep married a very beautiful queen. Her name was Nefertiti.”
Groan. I could see that train coming a million miles away.
Me: “Nef-er-tee-tee, not Nef-er-titty.” My inner voice was now sobbing. Was this how it was going to be from now on? I told myself to give it time, things would get back to normal. I mean, really, a boy doesn’t just bounce back after seeing his mom naked, does he? I told myself he would. The Chop was resilient.
Today, several days later, I’m certain the damage I’ve caused is permanent.
On the way to Ty’s flag football game, “Let It Go” came on the radio. It was just Chop and me in the car.
At the end, The Chop said, “Boys don’t like ‘Frozen.'”
I had just been having this conversation with my girlfriend and her husband the night before. Curious, I asked, “Why is that, buddy?”
With a dramatic eye roll that suggested that I was the ONLY person on the planet that didn’t know why, he said, “You know, Mom. It’s because of all the BOOBS!”
Now, for the life of me, I couldn’t replay a single scene in the movie in which one of the girls even shows significant cleavage, but then again, I’m not a seven-year-old boy who has his mother’s breasts permanently burned on his retinas.
I fought to hold back the tears as I looked at my broken son. I managed to get out a raspy, “What boobs?”
Clearly irritated by this level of interrogation, he says, “Um, YOU DEFINITELY have them, Mom. [insert flash back and a visible shudder as he relived “the incident” in that moment] And that girl in the movie, Elsa, she has them too.”
One thing is for certain: my boobs broke my son’s brain.
So, today, as I reflect on my successes and failures over the past year, I can’t help but wonder how the ramifications of “the incident” are going to play out over the long term. In the meantime, I’m going to hire an armed guard for my bathroom, take The Chop to Hooters for his birthday, and put $1,000 and a copy of this blog post in The Chop’s therapy fund jar.
That makes up for it, right?