By Lori Welch
I vividly remember when the itch of womanhood came knocking. It was 1976, and I was a fifth grader in Mrs. Matt’s class. I was a September baby so I was usually the youngest one in my grade level which is probably why to this day I still consider myself a bit of a late bloomer. My mom also became an empty nester when I left for school so she was not in any hurry for her ‘baby’ to grow up. In fifth grade, I was still consumed with building my Barbie empire (holdings to include townhouse, Corvette, airplane and yacht), and leading the playground debate of why there really was such a thing as Santa Claus to my know-it-all classmates. Thinking back, it must have come as a shock to my mom when I asked for a bra, especially when we both knew it was a want vs. a need. I had been making my case for months, but my lucky day came in the form of an overnight hospital stay. After suffering through many bouts of strep throat, it was determined that I would undergo a tonsillectomy. I was scared about going into the hospital, but not as scared as my mom. I don’t think either of us had been near a hospital since I was born. As we were laying out what I would need to take to the hospital (robe, slippers, Pooh Bear), I played the sympathy card and suggested I should probably pack a bra. For whatever reason, she agreed, and we made the pilgrimage to Peebles Department store. We picked out a cute little white eyelet number with a pink ribbon on each strap—little being the operative word. While there wasn’t much to support physically, it symbolized a new era for me mentally and emotionally. Somehow my ten year old brain understood what that little piece of cotton represented, and I was sure it was going to catapult me into womanhood, right alongside the popular girls in Mrs. Matt’s class. It had nothing to do with hormones or boys or bra size, and everything to do with acceptance by the girls I aspired to be. My new bra and the Daisy razor that was to come were the calling cards needed to claim my seat with the cool, mature girls. Playing with Barbie and Ken after school would soon be my dirty little secret. Imagine my excitement when nature came calling a couple of years later—I had arrived! Finally—the feminine hygiene products I had coveted would be mine! Life was good.
Seriously—what was I thinking? Fast forward a few decades, and my bra is the first thing to go when I walk in the door at night, I build entire outfits around hiding the fact that I haven’t shaved my legs in a week, and who doesn’t curse the dreaded curse? Trust that my only dream about feminine hygiene products is all that extra space I’m going to gain in my vanity when I can finally stop buying them. I refuse to buy the Costco size supply—I’m only committing to a 32 pack these days. If the opportunity comes to play on anyone’s sympathy, you can bet I’m not asking for uncomfortable, restricting undergarments. To all the women out there who have made the creator of Spanx a bazillionaire, you should be ashamed of yourselves. Womanhood is highly overrated, and I certainly don’t need a life sucking piece of nylon around my waist to remind me. While I’m no longer ‘entering’ womanhood, I’m also not exiting any time soon. Not to play on words, but I’m pausing. I truly am—pausing to reflect on this next chapter. I’ll start moving again once it cools down in here. Just kidding. I feel like a tween—I’m not at the procreation stage of life, but also not at the three-alarm fire stage. Pausing is like resting—only better. You get to sit back and look at things with a sense of calm, enjoyment and wonder. And, frankly speaking, if my ovaries choose to take a pause as well, I’m okay with that.
If I could speak with the men in the room for a minute—it might also be advisable for you to take a pause. Bless your hearts. You say the cutest things—most of the time. The other 90% of the time, you say things that make us want to walk across hot molten lava just to push the words back into your mouth. I know—it was a joke. Calling me ‘cranky pants’ is neither funny nor a joke. The rule of thumb is that if you have to tell someone it was a joke, #jokefail. Don’t stop trying though—just be patient with us. And, of course, think before you speak, and for God’s sake, don’t put anything in writing that you’ll regret.
Yes—the tides are turning yet again, and my body is changing. My skin is not as forgiving as it used to be. I’m happy and blissful one moment, ready to eat the heads off young children—or the barista who flagrantly gave me a latte when I clearly asked for a cappuccino—the next. Is it hot in here or what? If pregnant women think they have brain fog, I’m grateful I don’t have children because I’m pretty sure I would have left one in the car. I don’t feel old, but some mornings my muscles and joints beg to differ. All things considered, I think I’m weathering the storm pretty well. A new acquaintance recently asked if I’d had any work done. I thought she was talking about my patio. Am I old enough to be thinking about having work done? Seems like just yesterday I was eyeing up that little eyelet lace bra.