Is That Your Daughter’s Bra Hanging From A Tree?

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Because it’s not my daughter’s bra. Or at least, not yet.

This is your daughter’s bra and there’s nothing you can do about it. Image via Stacie Chadwick.

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.

That used to be me on the left side of the picture, but my daughter’s friends know the lyrics to every Taylor Swift song ever written, are much more supportive of her attraction to anything dramatic, and never make her empty the dishwasher. Image via Stacie Chadwick.

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.

Mariah Carey sometimes gets scuba gear and snow gear confused. Image via telepix.com.

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.

Gisele is not my daughter. Image via fashionlogie.com

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.

Notice the veins popping out of my hand. Nothing says “You’ll Always Be My Daughter” like a death grip. Image via Stacie Chadwick.

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.

I spawned something from the other side of the funhouse mirror. Image via The Church of Scientology.

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.

Saving lives and deflowering your daughter, one bottle of baby oil at a time. Image via dontletyourdaughterwearabikini.com.

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.

That’s Essa, flying away from me on the alpine slide of life. Image via Stacie Chadwick

66 responses »

  1. Yep. Before you know it they are on picnic in Paris opening a book with a hidden compartment and a diamond ring. Moving a million miles away…but always welcoming you with open arms when you come to visit 😉

  2. I can relate all too well… When they were younger, I couldn’t wait until they grew up. Now I’m not so sure… But I’m sure you gained points on that trip – your girls and Haley (who was the 4th?) surely had a blast! 🙂 I admire your courage to take on 4 girls on a mountain trip.

    • Jenna was the fourth. It was a great day, although I was EXHAUSTED by the time we got home. It felt like what I think climbing a fourteener would be like. I’ll have the real deal to compare it with as soon as I go up with you! Thanks for the comment Stella, hope you’re enjoying what looks like a great start to fall. =)

  3. Marvelous, insightful and touching, as always. Michelle and I are brand-new empty-nesters with the final of three off at college, so we know how difficult it can be to go from holding hands to waving goodbye.

  4. Wow, that’s a pretty nice bra. Nicer than any I’ve ever owned. I might have snatched it up. Not that it would have fit.

    But in all seriousness, this is another beautifully written piece, and one to which I can relate, only with sons instead of daughters. I was lucky enough to spend time away with my youngest this summer. It was such a treat to have one-on-one time with a preteen who was still content to spend time with me. I know that might not last much longer, but then again, that’s the way life has to be. If my teenager wanted to spend every minute with me, I’d be worried. 🙂

  5. sigh. My daughter Bella turns 17 in one week. She’ll be a junior. She’s been at her best friend’s cabin all week with 2 other friends. I decided that we needed to spend some time together before she starts school on monday, so i told her that we were all going to go to dinner and a movie tonight…”Mom, i don’t know, it’s my last weekend of summer…yadda, yadda, yadda”. sigh.

    • That makes me sad for both of us…you for what’s on your lap and me for what’s at the door. I have to remind myself to cherish the moment as I’m dumping a laundry basket’s worth of clean clothes into the washer that each of them tossed in the dirty clothes just because they didn’t want to hang it up. Thanks for stopping by…glad you’re back at it. =)

  6. ‘I’m now chasing the girls who used to cling to my side’ — great! How a bra inspires such musings — incredible. I ‘m glad you were motivated to write this. I enjoyed reading it. I liked the way you described your newly acquired D-list in their lives. And though I don’t have any chillens, I do so empathize.

  7. Oh, that bra is way too pretty to leave behind. Someone needs to tell their teenage daughter that the money for pretty bras doesn’t grow on trees. Or something.

    I yearn for the day when my kids move me to the D-list… However, I also fully intend to lock my daughter in her room Rapunzel style until she turns 30. Okay, perhaps 30 is unreasonable. 25.

    • The day will come, I promise, and sooner than you think. Until then, enjoy the time they spend glued to your side, they seem to somehow find their wings overnight. Like butterflies. Or bats. =)

  8. Entertaining and heartbreaking, because I’m in the exact same place with my daughter. Then again as I’m typing this my 4 year old son is trying to stick his hand in my bra to give me a “massage” so at least one of them is still attached, albeit lecherously.

    • K, I was just telling Cristy yesterday how much your amazingly witty comments make me laugh out loud. It’s very rare that I laugh in an external, uncontrollable manner, so you are now officially part of my inner humor circle. I don’t know what that means, except Cristy and I are plotting a way to try to make the whole girl/blogger/female power to the people thing real. S

  9. Awww…..keep them close, but not close enough to cut off their circulation. My daughter is 15 now and we are still close. We laugh a lot, go shopping and talk about guys. She’s my best friend. 🙂

    • OK, first things first, Wendy. I love the new gravatar pic. You look AWESOME! I meant to tell you that earlier. =)

      I’m sooooo happy to hear that at 15 that your daughter is your bestie, because my mom can attest (and probably will in the comments section of this post) that we wanted to kill each other when I was that age. I’m a bit of a disciplinarian, so I’m hoping that doesn’t count me out when their training bras turn into something else… xoxo

      • We are close but I am not easy on her. Yes, she is a little spoiled but she is a good kid. She gets disciplined when it’s necessary and she has boundaries to stay within. Your daughter (s) will one day know that the discipline was necessary because you loved them…they will have friends with parents who don’t give a shit and will be glad that you cared enough to shape them into responsible,caring adults. xo

  10. Brilliantly funny! I know how you feel, though we have all boys. Our 2 youngest are both in high school now and I’m just a not-so-glorified driver and a “human ATM” (loved that). I’m so grateful our boys are nerds. When they get together with their friends (also nerds, mostly male), it’s to play video games or Dungeons and Dragons.

    • Thanks for the comment sweetie! I had no idea kids still played D&D. I’m hoping my son goes the nerd route too. Hangin’ with the cool kids can be a lot more trouble than it’s worth. Thanks for the comment. I’m off to Boulder to hike today, but will be back tomorrow to see what you’re up to!

  11. Brilliantly funny! And I empathize though we have all boys. The two youngest are in high school now and consider me a driver and “human ATM” (loved that) as well. I grateful they’re nerds and are interested mostly in playing video games or Dungeons and Dragons with their nerd (and mostly male) friends.

  12. Mmmmm, bras… is there anything they can’t do? (But I digress…)

    Your love for your children bubbles up through your writing and it is beautiful to read. You think you are yesterday’s news in your daughters’ world, but know this: you are the bedrock upon which their entire sense of self is built. You think they don’t see you, but they are watching your every move and listening to everything you say. Tell them that you love them, every day, even if you don’t think they hear you. They do. Love them. Trust them. Give them your wicked wisdom. (I personally prefer Jada Pinkett Smith’s wicked wisdom, but that’s just me.)

    Your daughters are great ’cause they have an awesome Mom and Dad; they’ll be fine.

    And remember, if ever, in a few years, one of the neighbour boys decides that he might try hanging one of your daughters’ bras from a tree, I have Chuck Norris’ phone number. Just say the word.

    InPhiluencer

    • Dear InPhiluencer,

      I think you just stated above that you prefer Jada Pinkett Smith’s advice to mine, which would really bum me out if she wasn’t so freaking cool. =)

      Thanks for your sweet note. I know your words are sound I appreciate you taking time to leave them. As for Chuck Norris, please keep his digits at-hand. I have a feeling I’m going to need them one of these days (but thankfully, not tomorrow).

      So great to see you here. I hope you and your family are well.
      GG

  13. That really is a nice bra. It wouldn’t fit me but it’s pretty. What you’ll need to do is make sure you go to wherever old ladies go to get their underwear, and that’s where you’l buy your daughters’ bras and panties. Nothing says “man repellant” like giant white underpants and bras with 16 hooks and straps that are 2 inches wide.

    • MW,

      I am so on your page. As long as I’m in the BOGO section at Sears, I’m in good shape. Girlfriends share clothes, but not lingerie, right? I’d be sooooo bummed if one of my daughters traded a pair of UGGs for a sexy bra. Ugh (terrible play on words, I know, but it’s late and I’m tired).

  14. It gets worse, Stacie. There will come a time when you have to meet said lifeguard WITH your daughter in tow, and make nervous cheerful chatter, and all the while know that he and your daughter are doing all the things that, er, grown ups do. Not just the straightforward face to face bonking bit, which could just about be bearable, because, you know, life goes on, and anyway, it would be hypocritical not to concede that your daughter deserves a decent sex life too, especially when you had one. But, you know, all the rest of it to. Yeah, that stuff.

    And you look at her, and you look at him, and you say to yourself “I don’t wish to think about this.” And you say to your own thoughts “I can’t hear you. I said, I can’t hear you. Hello birds, hello clouds, hello sky. La-la-la, that blackbird sounds like a Mozart quintet. La-la.”

    Vodka helps, too. And football.

    • Congratulations TBM! I mean, pretty much congratulations. Well, congratulations until she turns about fifteen. Then, not so much at all but maybe still yes if she’s really into Dungeons and Dragons. No, scratch that, D&D is kind of a guy thing, worse, nerdy guys who will lust after your daughter. So back to congratulations until she’s fifteen, and then again once she’s safely out of college. OK, what I’m really trying to say is run. But not yet. You’ve got fifteen good years, give or take a few. (OK, seriously? Congratulations!).

  15. Hey Stacie! Great post, as always. They do grow up fast. My oldest (26) just took a job teaching Economics in Georgia….as in the country. It seems like just yesterday he and his sister were sword fighting with light bulbs…big sigh…I need to get over here more often. I’ve been a slacker all summer. Vickie

    • Hey Vickie! Long time no see. In fact, too long. WP kicked me off all of the blogs I follow and I’ve slowly been reconnecting the dots. Thanks for commenting on mine…now I can reconnect to yours. Have you seen what Cristy Carrington has done lately? Holy amazing blog transformation! Check it out if not.

      Great to see you. I was born in Georgia, but not the one where your daughter is teaching. Amazing….if you can live to tell the tale, so can I. Thanks for the comment, I hope you’re well…

  16. Stacie, you’re unmatched in your ability to notice, assess, and react to what is both unacceptable and inevitable. I’ve asked a thousand times why our kids can’t have friends and family. The answer is always something about nature, and a need to separate from their parents, and how they’ll appreciate all you’ve done someday when they have kids of their own. Well, that hardly seems fair. And it’s why raising children is the hardest job in the world — you have to keep being a parent, even as that role constantly changes with the child’s growth. Multiply the process by two or three (or more), all at different ages, and it’s no wonder parents look so tired. Just know that you’re not alone.

    Great post, as always.

    • Charles,

      If you could see me right now, you would notice that I look….tired. My son just entered middle school this year and the girls are right behind. Tell me I’ll survive. Tell me I won’t age 1,000 years in 10, tell me I’ll learn to love my teenagers. You seem to have done everything right, so I promise I’ll listen, if my children don’t.

      Thanks for the though-provoking comment. I always feel lucky when you’re around.

      Stacie

  17. Stacie, you nailed it again! I must confess we buy my 14 years old daughter’s bras from Victoria Secrets. They are so darn cute! I even started buying some for me 🙂

  18. Hey Miss Stacie, wonderful story! Oh, how I remember that transition away from mom and toward friends… but it’s really an ebb and flow, a bungee jump of sorts. They come bouncing back at the most unlikely of times. Your reaction to the bra-in-the-tree was similar to mine when we recently went underwear shopping at Aeropaolestel (or something like that, a friend of Bella’s had recommended it…) at the mall. On a table along with normal underpants, there were THONGS being marketed to girls 8-12 yrs old WHAT?! THONGS? Who ever decided that a young girl should be more concerned with panty lines — or worse, being ‘sexy’ — than with comfort? Not to mention hoo-ha health?! It so infuriated me that we marched away to … yes, Victoria’s Secret… because they have a great selection of panty styles ranging from ‘full coverage’ down to a few strings knotted together (we avoided that table). Whatever. It was a good place for Isabella to feel both fashionable and appropriate in the Underthings dept. Anyway, I’ve ranted here. I love your insight and ability to communicate your thoughts on matters like these. 🙂

    • I love it when you rant, Laura, or just visit and say hi. Either one. Thanks for the AWESOME words of wisdom. You’re now officially on my list of people to consult who know what they’re talking about or can fake it really well when it comes to getting advice on preteen and teendom. Consider yourself warned ’cause I’ll be back….. =)

  19. It’s painfully common what dads feel about their little princesses growing up. This was a fresh perspective, and an interesting one at that.
    BTW I think ‘awesome view’ is enough to tip you off that he’s most certainly not talking about the flora and the fauna.

  20. I remember that fear. Sooooooooo happy we -my daughter and I, survived that stage. And I’m so glad it’s over. Until my daughter decides to have a daughter of her own and then it starts all over again, that is

  21. Pingback: Excuse me sir, have you seen my bra? « Summer Solstice Musings

  22. After reading the title and see the pic of the bra I was all ready to be amazed that you’d buy such a bra for a ten year old…. silly me. Although I am curious to know how someone explained the lost of that bra if she was a teenager! My oldest girl is turning 13 this year and is discovering the world, thankfully not the world of boys just yet. It’s so exciting to watch and so scary too, because what if I haven’t taught her right… Love the posts that I have read. I’ll have to keep coming back for more!

    • Thanks, Karen. Luckily, neither of my girls is anywhere close to wearing a bra, but when they do, I’m definitely not going to let them pull something like that out of a tree. =)

      I appreciate you stopping by, I’d love to see you again!

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