The mom pulls out a lacy black bra and then quickly shoves it back into the drawer. The next option is more appropriate but so utilitarian it threatens to trigger a depression. She finally settles on an unremarkable nude with underwire, and then rolls her eyes at the time wasted with this pointless exercise. Who cares what her bra looks like? It’s not like anyone is going to see it anyway . . .
You want the truth about busting through the indignities of midlife? I think you can handle it.
Oh, Maycember, when everything looks so lovely and serene you’d never believe you were actually burning alive in schedule hell. Besides the usual fare of work and play and celebration, sadly May is also the month when the kids and I take care of doctors’ appointments. My oldest has a birthday in May and the youngest always has a team sport physical due.
My birthday is in August. But my appointments bubble up last on the list and inevitably fall a bit behind. In my defense there are just so many more of them to accommodate. Yay, middle age!
Because who doesn’t love to go to the doctor? [Typed with heavy sarcasm and apologies to my sweet physician husband]. My 11-year-old definitely was not thrilled; he had shots due. My 14-year-old seemed pretty bored when it was his turn. The doctor was upbeat going over his stats and noted happily that my son had gained 14 pounds last year. Then he jokingly added, “This is great! But just for you. Your mom and I wouldn’t be so happy if we got that report from the doctor at our visit!” And we all laughed and I thought, When. When I got that report from the doctor at my visit . . .
Well, my numbers weren’t quite that bad. Still. The difference between my son’s celebratory experience and my bracing-for-bad-news midlife routine came into sharp relief.
Take my recent mammogram appointment. I shouldn’t have been rushed going in there, but it’s May and so I was derailed a dozen times that morning and was way off schedule – but still did a quick run beforehand because I lost track of the time and because I’m a mom-in-May/idiot. So I rushed in and showered but I was still streaming sweat (lovely). And was running late so I couldn’t eat before (clearly fine) or drink water (uh oh). Or wear deodorant, ‘cause that’s a no-no for the mammogram apparatus (nice).
I go crashing in there looking like a hot mess but they kindly take me back. I slip off my bra and shirt and put on my paper towel top and go to the exam room. There is the machine in all its glory, and honestly I don’t hate it because I know it could possibly save my life and that is a gift. It appears I really mean to demonstrate those grateful thoughts as I wrap my arms around it with the sweet technician’s help. She manipulates me the way you have to stand, arms hugging the contraption so my breast may be smashed into place – and then turns my body just so . . .
She runs back to take the pic and all of a sudden I feel my back seizing a bit, a party favor from that ill-advised run. “Almost ready,” she says cheerfully, as I strain to stay perfectly still and mentally overpower the back twitching. I breathe deep and am almost ok when she says, ”Alright now, here we go, please don’t breathe . . .”
Say what? I cut off my intake of oxygen midstream, trying desperately to hold my pose without my back giving out. Almost immediately I begin to feel lightheaded. Oh crap. And now I can breathe, thank you Jesus! But now another pic, please don’t breathe . . . and I begin to feel woozy again.
It suddenly occurs to me what I will look like if I faint. I will not fall to the floor, but instead will be dangling from the mammogram machine by my 45 year-old ta-ta. Good grief, it has been through so much, could it survive such a scene? It thought breast-feeding was rough! I imagine explaining to the doctors on Botched how I had come to be so lop-sided. The thought made me laugh out loud.
Which clearly messed up the no-breathing-stay-perfectly-still idea. But it did calm my twitching back and dizzy head. Sometimes midlife will smash your dignity to bits; the truth is, busting a gut is often the best way to pull yourself back together.
Want to get a better handle on busting a middle-aged gut? Check out the woman who is still laughing after finding joy in a Chewbacca mask, chuckle with Jen Hatmaker as she chronicles the downward spiral of the mom in May, and find funny comfort in imperfection with the conversation between real moms Sheri Lynch and Tracy Curtis.
Bess Kercher, M.A. explores the reality of motherhood in her blog "A Few Good Moms...Can You Handle the Truth?" Bess lives in Charlotte with her husband and two sons. You can read more of her writing at www.maemucho.com.