Toyota Sienna

One of the girls yelled, “Turn the music up!”

“Did you say turn it up or turn it off?” I asked. It was kind of hard for me to hear her over the din of the other five girls.

“UP!” more than one of them said.

Every Tuesday for the past few weeks, it’s been my job to drive six fifth grade girls home from show choir practice. SIX TWEEN GIRLS. This carpooling job is not for the faint of heart. It takes all my concentration to pay attention to the road with my minivan full of giggling, gossiping girls.

Last week, I had an oldies radio station playing, “oldies” being a relative term, since I was listening to 80’s music and that’s certainly not “oldies” to me. I was asked immediately, however, to change the station to more current music. They prefer Bruno Mars over REO Speedwagon and I’m okay with that.

The back row of seats is the prime spot. Is it because those seats are the farthest away from me, the adult, or because the three girls that fit back there get to talk to most, and the other girls turn their heads to join into the conversation? Probably a little of both.

It is dinner time when I pick them up and they always ask me if I have a snack for them. I don’t, because then I’ll disappoint them when I forget to pack a snack next time. I feel a little guilty that I don’t have something for them.

While I’m driving, I listen to the girls sing along to the songs on the radio when a good one comes along. I don’t interrupt as they talk about crushes on boys. They are at that in-between age where they want to have crushes, but most boys still have cooties.

How well I remember being that age! I remember carpooling to my volleyball games, listening to Queen sing Another One Bites the Dust on the radio, not knowing the real meaning of the song and feeling so clever as we drove past cattle farms, changing the lyrics to “another cow bites the dust!”

The car grows quieter as each girl is dropped off. They wave a cheery “Thank you, Mrs. Grabske!” as they head for the warm lights of home. Finally, I drive to my house with my daughter, ready to eat the tortellini soup that is waiting in the crock pot.

This is motherhood. There is nothing more like the suburban mom stereotype than driving a minivan and carpooling. And I’m going to roll around in that stereotype like a puppy in stinky ol’ socks and make it stick, because I’m so lucky. Because I have THIS life, stereotypical as it may seem.

THIS is motherhood after breast cancer.
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The Girdle

I am clearing out my sock drawer. Throwing out sock with holes in the heels, made by my rough skin rubbing against the fabric. Throwing out the ugly socks that I had no intentions of wearing. How did they end up in my sock drawer, anyway? I reach into the drawer, looking for something else to discard, and I pull out a cream-colored garment.

Holding it up, I automatically stretch it between my hands. I hear the elastic crinkle and pop as it stretches out and stays out. All the elasticity it once had disappeared over the years it was in my sock drawer.

I am holding up the girdle I wore eight years ago on my wedding day.

Girdles seem so outdated. I suppose they are no longer called “girdles,” but rather “shape smoothers” or something like that. No matter what they call it, it’s still a girdle.

The year I was to be married, I felt outdated as well. I felt like an old bride, getting married at the age of 33. Shopping for wedding dresses was extremely difficult; I had had a mastectomy when I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 27. That meant I didn’t have cleavage to show. My scar extends under my arm, where the surgeon removed lymph nodes. I have a nice bulge of fat by that scar. A sleeveless wedding dress was also out of the question.

Have you ever shopped for wedding dresses? Finding one with my specifications seemed like it would be impossible. I drove from wedding shop to wedding shop, looking at plunging neckline after plunging neckline. My budget was also slim, and so spending a lot of money on a custom-made dress was out of the question.

Not only that, but taking an estrogen-reducing medication for five years had caused me to gain weight. I was very self-conscious about that bulge around my middle.

Watching younger, skinnier women trying on skimpy, sexy wedding dresses made me feel old. Made me feel as old and stretched out as a piece of old, worn-out elastic.

But then, I found the dress. The dress I would wear. And it would do.

The day of my wedding came. As I gazed at my husband-to-be, waiting for me at end of the aisle, I could feel the love radiating from him. All those outdated feelings melted away. He only had eyes for me.

He still does.

This was my response for this week’s prompt at The Red Dress Club.

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