Way back in the 1990s, when I was pregnant for a total of 81 weeks of my life, there was none of the cute tiny belly-hugging maternity wear there is now. Let me officially take this opportunity to thank the universe for that. Perhaps the best thing about being pregnant (besides stopping everything to take naps whenever and whereever you want) is that no one expects you to have a waist. There are no belts, no tucking in, and therefore no sucking in. Abs? Don’t need ‘em, and I’ll have more lasagna, please. Eating for two, don'cha know.
Of course I had to pay with a lot of sailor collars, polka dots and obnoxious bows on my backside, but the ability to relax and breathe was really quite worth any duckie prints. After two children, though, there was a choice to be made. Convert to Mormonism, or start standing up straight again? Since I refuse to own a passenger van, wear jumpers and cut my bangs too short, I decided two children were enough, and I went back to sensible eating and buttoning the top button of my jeans.
Just in time, too, really – because celebrities started wearing tiny t-shirts to show off their growing tummies. Princess Di sported a bikini whilst preggers, gals even revealed the turkey thermometer phenomenon of pregnant belly buttons. No longer content to hide and slouch, tall thin models and actresses made it so hip and hot to be pregnant that the Gap started selling maternity clothes. What the? Now, regardless of being pregnant or not, my belt-free days of comfort were over.
AND THEN… About a year ago, I saw a woman wearing a babydoll shirt. She was sooo not pregnant. She was just wearing a tent. Just because. And she looked really happy. I looked happier, and breaking my vow to only enter a mall if my city is under threat of alien attack, I dove in and went shopping.
Oh delicious babydoll top! I could exhale. All the way. True, at first, my youngest son asked if he was getting a baby brother. No worries. All I had to do to keep friends and strangers from wondering was make sure I’m always holding a beer. Then I’m obviously not pregnant, or so completely unaware of fetal alcohol poisoning that most people are scared to approach me.
This whole summer has been a delightful retreat as cool, gauzy fabrics swirl around me. I stand over air conditioning vents, swollen and blossoming, fresh as a daisy. Go to hell, Abdominator. I don’t need you, Tony Little Gazelle. Gym membership? Unnecessary. I have a big, big shirt.
UNTIL today. I’m walking down a busy city street, flowing and glowing. Coming towards me is a small, skinny 20-something lovely thing. Her baby doll top is cute and floral. Her tiny French-cuffed jeans poke out from beneath it. Her tippy toes poke perfectly from teeny stilettos. She trots with the very essence of Barbie herself. The breeze changes direction, and the fabric blows against her, revealing…THE SAME DAMNED MUFFIN TOP AS IF SHE WAS WEARING A TIGHT SHIRT. Oh crap.
Betrayal. If Kelly Ripa’s twin sister looks that lumpy in her size XXS, what the hell must I look like? Oh…the agony. Once again, screwed by fashion. I might as well be wearing Jordache hip hugger cutoffs with a comb in the back pocket and a homemade fringed half shirt with “Foxy Lady” ironed across my chest.
I went home, determined to right the wrong and clear out the yards and yards of flowing fabric I’d grown dependent on all summer. Perhaps I could donate them to Colorado Home for Convalescent Hippies…or to an orphanage that’s lacking curtains.
For old times’ sake, I pulled on the gauziest of them all…a white, sheer jersey one that made me look positively ready to deliver sextuplets. I cracked a cool frosty and went out on the front porch to say goodbye. Goodbye to summer. Goodbye to what was. Goodbye to the pursuit of six-packs and hello to the pursuit, once again, of six-pack abs. The slippery ale slid down my throat. I belched. I exhaled, for perhaps the last time. My shirt billowed proudly like the final lowering of a flag of freedom as the sun slipped beyond the horizon. You were very good to me, babydoll top. Very, very good.