Walking down to the station this morning I was feeling light and carefree. It is the first beautifully sunny day for a while, and I am wearing my mother’s summery orange dress, which she brought on holiday but never had a chance to wear as it poured with rain most of the time. I was listening to The Beatles, stepping in time to the beat of ‘Revolution’, singing along with ‘Don’t you know it’s gonna be (dum de dum) alright’, swinging my bag and laughing with delight that last night’s anger seemed to have evaporated. I was reflecting that I can still be happy – I don’t need to wear my sorrow on my sleeve; I don’t need the world to know all the time how much I miss my mother. Those who need to know, already know, and won’t begrudge me my moments of joy.
But only a few minutes later I could feel anger bubbling away still just beneath the surface – not intense, not wrenching, and no longer directly about anything; just sitting there ready to boil over at rude people on the overcrowded Underground, the train I just missed, and the one I subsequently caught that was delayed.
Tonight two old friends (the friendships being long-standing, rather than the acquaintances aged) are treating me to dinner, a burlesque show and cocktails, as a late birthday treat. The theatre requires one to dress in period (20s) or burlesque theme, and it was fairly fun and easy to find a simple, flapper-esque outfit in my cupboard, and purchase a feathered headband and fake pearls as a garnish. I am sure we are going to have great fun
(yes, there had to be a but)
I have been quietly anxious about it all week. Trying to articulate to my husband why this is so, I have concluded that it has two main strands. The first, in contradiction to my lightheartedness this morning, is that I am not really feeling ready to celebrate anything. I am not in the mood to just enjoy things, and do ‘fun’ things. Relaxing, yes; but fun, no, not really. I feel a tugging resistance within me.
The second is to do with my breasts. Yes, my breasts. When I went back to South Africa for my mother’s memorials, I had to leave my two children in London, because we are in the process of applying for their British citizenship, so they have no passports at the moment. It seemed a logical time to wean my youngest, who was 16 months old at the time – exactly the same age as my older son was when I had to wean him due to going on very strong painkillers following a punctured nerve in my left arm during a routine blood test. I have always aimed for the World Health Organisation’s suggestion of a minimum of 2 years of breastfeeding, both because I am very aware of the health benefits, and because I enjoy the closeness with my children, especially as a working mum. However, I liked the synchronicity and ‘fairness’ of feeding both boys to the same age, and knew it would help with getting my youngest to sleep through the night.
This has, as I knew it would, meant that over the past few weeks my breasts have slowly dwindled away. They have lost their roundedness, and perkiness, and feel somewhat empty. The scariest thing is probably the fact that even my mother’s bras now seem slightly too big for me. I always knew this day was coming; genetically speaking, the likelihood of inheriting my mother’s post-baby breasts was pretty unavoidable. Still, am I really in the mood to watch beautiful, sexy women with amazing breasts on stage tonight? No, but I will go anyway, and I am sure I will get into the spirit of it. I know that running away from these things never helps, so I might as well start facing up to it straight away. Anyway, I have adapted my ‘mourning’ poem:
Mourning (Version 1, 08/06/2011)
Is far easier than mourning
My hair will grow back.
Mourning (Version 2, 15/07/2011)
Is far easier than mourning
Although my breasts, too, will never come back.