My seriousness on the yoga mat is real. When I start teaching a yoga class, a Zen master vibe takes me over. I begin to talk about the breath as a gateway to enlightenment. My whole demeanor shifts to that of a calm sage.
One such class, I began to demo a yoga pose, getting on all fours on my mat, cueing students to do the same. It was a hot summer day. I wore a lower cut, thin tank top with a sports bra. I placed myself so that my chest was facing the class.
“Inhale and gaze upward, drop your rib cage and lift your tailbone,” I said in a deep, relaxing tone. I gazed at the class: “Beautiful,” I said. “Hold here for a breath. Now on your next exhale, tuck your chin and tail and arch your upper back.” As the class followed my vocal cues, some of them snickered. After a breath, I dropped my head to join them in their arched spines and was immediately drawn to my cleavage. Peeking out of my bra was a lovely bright white piece of tissue. It looked like a kerchief popping out of a gentleman’s blazer. At that moment, I let out a loud, uncontrollable snort, giving more students permission to release suppressed laughter. After a room full of laughter and smiles, I quickly maneuvered myself to the side, so that only I had the luxury of observing my beautiful nose tissue as I flexed and extended my spine.
The glee I felt at making my yoga students and myself snicker stayed with me after class. It was a child-like glee, free from self-consciousness. I thank motherhood for giving me the gift of embracing the weird, the wild and the quirky.
I couldn’t even begin to count the number of times my now 8-year-old daughter has said to me over the years, “Mom a tissue just fell out of your shirt!” “Mom, you have a tissue sticking out of your boobs.” Every time my kiddo has said this, she’s giggled. We often giggle together. Most of those tissues were tucked in my bras for her constantly running nose.
In my 20s they became a vehicle for sexual pleasure. Tissues were for my pockets. Only my boyfriends could have access to my boobs.
Enter my 30s and the dawning of motherhood, when my breasts began to swell 2 sizes bigger than I was used to. My bra size increased, and thus, so did the storage space in between my breasts. There were times when I was pregnant and went for a summer walk, only to realize I was pocketless, so I tucked my cellphone into my cleavage. Its depth and darkness was the perfect hidden body pocket. During pregnancy, my breasts were a secret storage depot. Nobody knew they held tissues, phones, money — and sometimes even crumbs from late-night craving snacks. Shhhh. Don’t tell anyone.
My boobs transformed from sexual pleasure centers and storage depots to feeding pots when I became a mother.
I was a cow being milked — all day and night long. Suddenly the pleasure was gone. And so was the storage chamber. The constant opening and closing of my nursing bra made my boobs tired. It made my whole being tired. My boobs weren’t mine anymore. Sometimes it felt like my daughter owned them.
I stopped nursing when my daughter was about 18 months. Suddenly my size C cup bras became loose. Within months, my old size A cup bras fit again. My breasts transformed faster than my emotional self did. I was confused about their role. It felt weird to have them back again as my own. Though my daughter still grabbed at them from time to time, as if wanting to nurse. I would make her giggle about grabbing my breasts during those times. “Mine!”, I’d say with a smile, but I wasn’t joking. They were mine. I wanted them back. Only I didn’t know exactly what to do with them — just yet.
I think it was during one of those, “No more milk!” giggling sessions that my little girl tucked a tissue in my cleavage. It actually fit in there quite well. She was a toddler then and catching every virus on the planet. A runny nose was a constant. Putting a tissue in my boobs just made sense.
And they become a comedy act when you forget to remove them when teaching a yoga class with a low cut tank.
Enter my 40s: my daughter is 8 now and able to get her own tissues as needed. But sometimes I forget that she’s old enough to blow her own nose. Sometimes my boobs get lonely and confused about their purpose. After playing so many roles in my life and the life of my child, they might just be a little confused until my body turns to ash. And so from time to time, when they’re lonely and cold, my boobs are for tissues.
I hope my boobs are always for tissues.
They were today, which inspired me to write this piece. Heading out to my porch with laptop and lunch in hand, I didn’t have a place to put my napkin. As I sat sipping sparkling water, pondering what I would write about next, I looked down to see a white tissue saying hello from cleavage-land. “Oh yeah, that’s where I put it,” I chuckle to myself.
I hope when I’m a grandma, my grandkids can say: “Grandma, you have a tissue in your boob!”, or “Grandma, a tissue fell out of your shirt!”
And I can say: “Boobs are for tissues, my dears.”
And we can all have a good, hard giggle.
Because boobs, after all, are for tissues and maybe that’s quite okay.