Some happened when I was a schoolgirl. Others, as a teen. And many as an adult.
One as a teen stands out.
Zip back to 1959 with me.
Thirteen and a newly tagged teenager (emphasis teen), I was ever so proud. My older brothers didn’t have a thing on me. I was one of them at last.
Behind my bedroom door I dreamed of Paul Anka. Elvis Presley. Bobbie Darin. And those cute-as-pie teen stars like Sandra Dee and Annette Funicello. Oh, to look like Sandra Dee. Sigh.
Problem was, my mother still saw me as an eight year old. Signs of maturation? Naw. “Linda’s too young,” she would insist. And so she ignored what I kept pointing out—ladies’ razors in the drug store. Lipstick. Hosiery. Heels. And—(throat clearing)—the lingerie department at Addington’s Department Store.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens …
Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV
Mother’s oft-repeated response: “You’re too young for that. You’ll be grown soon enough.”
Picture, if you will, a budding teenage girl standing 5′ 6″ tall with Size 8 feet, gorilla legs and underarms, and arms perpetually crossed over her chest. Did I experience embarrassment because of my mother’s iron-clad insistence that I not grow up? Horrors, yes!
Take one instance of embarrassment as an example.
Alta Mae, the mother of one of my church friends, a woman whose friendship with Mother extended back decades, lost no time outfitting her daughter Claudia with all the latest essentials. From the drug store. The department store and its lingerie department. And the make-up counter.
Mother, however, looked elsewhere. If she didn’t acknowledge those departments, perhaps they wouldn’t exist.
As God would have it, Goldie’s little girl indeed was growing into a young lady. Alta Mae knew it, and she just couldn’t keep her mouth shut. I overhead a conversation between the two of them. “Linda needs a razor, Goldie. And bras, for heaven’s sakes. She must be embarrassed.”
“Naw,” Mother said. “She’s too young for that. She’ll be grown soon enough.”
“She IS all but grown, Goldie. Have you even looked?”
Truthfully, Mother had kept her eyes trained straight ahead. If Linda remained in her peripheral vision, maybe she wouldn’t grow up.
But Mother’s friend wouldn’t take no for an answer.
One Sunday night after church, Alta Mae invited our family to their house for supper. With their three children and our three, the house buzzed with conversation, music, and laughter. Soon Alta Mae whispered in my ear, “Want to see Claudia’s new school clothes?”
Of course. Claudia always sported the latest fashion. Including lingerie. I scooted upstairs with Alta Mae and Claudia. Sitting on the bed with eyes wide, I watched as Claudia brought out her new purchases. Dresses with frills. Petticoats. Socks. Shoes. Hair ribbons. Make-up. And—wow—several new bras.
I lifted one and felt the softness, the trim, the latch in back. Sigh. Would I ever don one of those?
Alta Mae to the rescue.
She opened a chest drawer and pulled out two handfuls of bras. “Here, Linda. These are Claudia’s old bras. They’re in perfectly good condition.” She held one up for size. “I do believe they’ll fit. And they’re padded.” She pointed to the bathroom. “Go on. Try them.”
I thought of Mother downstairs, of course, and took them hesitantly. Sure enough, they fit. Hmm. But wouldn’t Mother notice? And how about everyone else downstairs, especially the boys? Egads.
Alta Mae stuffed them into a shopping bag, but as she and Claudia left the room, I visualized the unavoidable, inevitable scene that would greet me: me coming down the stairs and everyone else looking at me, and Mother asking, “What’s in the bag?”
Embarrassment flooded over me.
Wearing all 5 bras!
What in the world was I thinking? How could I think 5 bras ON me would be less noticeable than 5 in a bag? Needless to say, when we returned home Mother followed me from the car into my bedroom. She poked a finger against a bulge. “What’s that?”
“Claudia’s old bras. Alta Mae gave me five.”
“And you wore them all at once?”
Embarrassment reared its ugly head. Good grief. What must everyone have thought? How could I be so stupid?
Fortunately, Mother gave me a one-arm hug. “Try wearing just one next time.”
And that was that. Suddenly, Linda was like all the other girls. Not quite a Sandra Dee, mind you, but close enough to Claudia. At last.
~ ~ ~
Dear Lord, please walk alongside us, point the way, and give us a nudge when we need it.
~ For Jesus’ sake