Because it’s not my daughter’s bra. Or at least, not yet.
I took my girls to the mountains last week for some didn’t-get-around-to-doing-all-the-cool-things-I-promised-you-this-summer-and-sort-of-need-to-fit-it-all-into-one-day family fun. Well, family – two + two, because my husband had to work, my son was already back at school, and each of my daughters decided that bringing a friend would be a much better option than hanging out with me.
As the trip drew closer, I watched my self-declared, starring role in their lives casually deflate with the slow hiss of a forgotten balloon, to the point that the character I’ve played for the past ten years and know by heart dwindled to nothing more than a cameo appearance. I was a ride up the mountain, someone to hold discarded clothing (not lingerie), and a human ATM.
The minute we hit the resort parking lot (well not really “we”, the kids paired off in twos as I struggled behind the weight of a broken cooler and enough outerwear to float Mariah Carey safely through the streets of Aspen), they were off without a second glance my way. Determined not to be ditched, I jog-limped behind, scrambling to keep up as they raced from the human maze to a zip line, then over the bungee tramps and up the lift so they could fly back down the alpine slide.
Thanks to my newly acquired, D-list status in their lives, I had a chairlift all to myself, and that’s when I drifted over a piece of material placed so far from its intended purpose that I was momentarily stunned. Feeling a little confused, it took my mind a few seconds to catch up with my eyes… “What’s a bra doing in a tree? How did it get there? Why would someone throw away something so….oh yeah, never mind.”
As I gazed down, the future reached back up and hit me with a stiff sucker punch to the gut. For me, that Victoria’s Secret 34C (give or take a cup) was a physical manifestation of one thing. Fear.
As happy as I am that they’re now back in school (be honest, you’re happy your kids are gone too), it’s because I know that when they leave in the morning they’ll come home again. Today, I’m still allowed to enter their rooms unannounced, pack their lunch, braid hair, and read them their favorite bedtime stories. I’m close enough to be counted on as a mother, and not yet so far away that we can’t be friends.
But they’re growing up and moving beyond me in ways both insignificant and profound. I feel it as acutely as a shift in the wind or the distant smell of burning leaves that signals a change of season. I’m now chasing the girls who used to cling to my side. Our family trips to the mountains already look a little different than they used to due to a newly revolving cast of characters; like a funhouse mirror that looks back at you with a reflection that’s familiar and different at the same time. And forget about leading. Before I know it, I won’t even be able to follow them. They’ll be heading in their own direction without a map, hair flying in the wind, with besties and boyfriends by their sides.
And that’s how a bra ends up in a tree. I mean, that’s how your daughter’s bra ends up in a tree. Not mine. There’s no way I’m giving a jewel-encrusted key to some lifeguard from the beach who’s all “I love you and you’re so beautiful and you look just like Selena Gomez and I play guitar plus my dad has a boat, and I’m pretty sure he knows Justin Bieber and all that, and so yeah, like do you wanna take a ride up the mountain at night to check out the awesome view or something?”
It’s the “or something” that plasticizes my inner organs, rendering me completely unable to move.
As long as they live in my house, my daughters’ lingerie will come from the sale rack at Sears. For now and maybe forever, I’m keeping my cash in my pocket and my eyes wide open. Call it a survival instinct, sixth sense, whatever you want. Any way you look at it, you’ll be surprised what you can see from so far behind.