From the day that I was cognizant of puberty, I wanted boobs. I snuck a Raggedy Ann training bra into the house when I was 7. I don’t recall where I got it, but I wore it under my clothes and felt like big stuff. Funny that it would be Raggedy Ann. I don’t think she ever had boobs. Which reminds me of being 8 and stuffing myself. I was wearing a red and blue paisley sundress with a smocked top (elastic/stretchy). I placed two wads of toilet paper where my boobs would eventually grow. I was off to a birthday party. I grabbed the gift my mama had wrapped for me and proceeded to head out the door. Mama stopped me, gave me a quick hug, pulled my dress top open, removed both wads of tissue. The dress snapped back into position. “Have a good time at the party,” she said. I even had a Barbie doll, Growing up Skipper. When you moved her right arm the right direction she grew taller with boobs.

Fast forward to the age of 12. I got ‘em! One was slightly bigger than the other for a few years, but I got ‘em. As my mama used to say, I looked like a popsicle stick with boobs. All 115 pounds of me, sporting a size D cup. Mama hated going bra shopping with me. It was terribly difficult to find a bra that fit me. The only underwear shop in town was Frederick’s and she sure as shit wasn’t taking me in there. It was a conundrum for her because she was ADAMANT that all women should have a well fitting bra. So twice a year she would bite the bullet and take me into the JC Penney.

My friends got boobs, too. My Greek girlfriend was only 5’2” and her boobs were bigger than mine. She was popular. My best friend sported a modified rack. It was clear that BOOBS = BOYS. Even my gay ex-husband liked boobs. He deemed our neighbor, Tina, who lived around the corner from us, “The best tits on the block.” While this should have bothered me (he was deeming Tina with the best tits and not me), Tina did have a nice set.

A good bra was so ingrained in my brain that I still do regular bra checks….on other women. For example: I was talking with a work associate and we had just met with an insurance broker. She was single, he was single. Blake asks me, “So what did ya think? Should I ask her out?” My only reply was, “She seems nice enough, she’s pretty but she needs a better bra.”

As an adult you encounter friends who have breast reductions and/or enlargements. My twin cousins got identical boob jobs – because one couldn’t get one without the other. Another relative of mine had an enlargement — but nobody noticed. My Greek friend from school had a reduction. I got to see the scars.

My sister in law had an enlargement. After surgery, she had a separation problem which would have resulted in a UNIBOOB if not fixed. It was ok because she actually wanted them to be a bit bigger. She went back under the knife and came out an F cup. They came to visit for the weekend. They arrived late into the night so we didn’t have a chance to greet them upon their arrival. When they came down for breakfast the next morning there were two huge white elephants in the middle of her chest. Thank God Roger had his direct Norwegian way about him as he bites into a piece of buttered toast, “So, Michelle. Let’s talk about your tits.” Another family member had to go back in and have hers replaced (I guess they had expired). It was a wonder she could keep herself upright after the new set of twins were installed.

Of course, the main purpose of the human breast is really not for Playboy pullouts, the main purpose is breastfeeding. While this may be the main purpose, I will tell you that there is nothing natural about breastfeeding. I liken this to there are no directions for child rearing. Well, there are thousands of directions for breastfeeding. Thousands. However, it doesn’t matter. It’s still awkward. You literally have an additional appendage (your child) hanging of one or the other of your boobs for at least half of a 24 hour day. You smell like sour milk, you’re sticky, you sleep in a bra for almost a whole year of your life. You have licensed boob whisperers who come in to your hospital room or your physician’s office when your child won’t latch on. What these contortionists can do to your boobs is quite amazing. It’s a wonder they didn’t end up looking like a balloon animal by the time they were finished

No one informed me of the “let down”. The let down is what happens to signal your milk to disperse. Usually it is induced by the infants suckling motion (you men just all got turned on by that word, didn’t you?). It can also be induced by the thought of your infant or the sound of a crying infant or just because you happen to be standing in the middle of Nordstrom’s and walk out looking like a half-assed participant in a wet t-shirt contest. A nursing mom gets breast infections which results in your already engorged ta tas becoming even bigger and inflamed with heat which requires antibiotics and a teething stick to bite on while your little munchkin still feeds. Blocked milk ducts…The list goes on.

I was picking up my youngest from kindergarten years ago and one of the moms was waiting outside with the rest of us moms. She had her 6 month old baby with her. I think this was her 6th child. She was Mormon. She spent so many years pregnant that her maternity clothes were her regular clothes and vice versa. Her beautiful little boy’s mouth was completely purple. Mary and I have been acquainted for a year now through our children and their elementary school.

Me: Why is his mouth purple, Mary?
Mary: Oh, he has thrush.
Me: What’s thrush?
Mary: It’s a kind of yeast infection. I’m trying to treat it without medication.
Me: Oh.
Mary: I use this Gentian Violet and I apply it to his mouth and to my nipples. (I really couldn’t believe she actually said nipples).
Me: Oh. Does it work?
Mary: Usually. We have to keep reapplying it, but it will get better.
Me: Oh. (pause)
Me: What does your husband look like?

Even Mary got a chuckle out of that one.

After losing my second child, Grant, and two feeble attempts to breastfeed both he and Alex, I was determined to be successful with my next child and the one after. I nursed both up to 10-12 months. I pumped and I pumped and I pumped. I got pretty good at it. I conquered my boobs with both hands and wear the badge proudly. I refused to be holed up any longer at the holiday Norwegian party in the backroom because 65 year old women didn’t want their 65 year old husbands to see my boobs. They wouldn’t have seen them anyways, because I was a conservative breast feeder. However, if you were to enter my home you might have seen something a little more liberal. If I had actually seen breastfeeding as a child I would have been terrified to get boobs. They are quite a site, especially if you aren’t fond of udders.

Now in my late 40s, I deem my breasts “recreational” just like my recreational hips. They have served their purpose functional purpose. I’ve seen a plastic surgeon regarding a breast reduction/lift. I’m not looking for silicon, just my natural bosoms a little lighter and higher. (They don’t get smaller with age – they only get bigger unless you didn’t have any to begin with). While he did note that the nipple line was 5 inches lower than where they should be, he did comment on the quality of their general structure (Thank you, mama, for making me wear good bras). When I informed my John of my lighter/higher idea his reply was, “Oh Hell No. I’ll put you back on”

So, here I am, with my 36 DDD boobs. There are days that I wish they were removable. You go to put on that little black dress or that one piece swimsuit and you have to physically lift and center each boob into the garment, ensuring both nipples are straight forward and even. If they weren’t, please know that a Jolley family member would let you know (if not actually correct the problem for you). Which brings me to another point — I have had full grown adult women ask to feel my boobs. It’s true.

I purchased a corset a few months back at Fredericks. I’m in the fitting room with the sales associate, a 20-something popsicle stick with boobs who is girding me into the corset. By the time she was finished, my boobs were literally under my chin and I couldn’t breathe. How do women get into these contraptions by themselves? I told her I would wear it home. I put my blouse on over the corset, paid at the counter and walked to my car. I sat in my car, my boobs which were 15 minutes ago 5 inches below the PERF line, to just under my chin were now in my throat as the mere act of sitting down drove them further upwards. I drove home hoping I wasn’t going to pass out from lack of oxygen. Sitting at the dining room table having a drink with John trying to pretend everything is normal when it is not normal at all. The endeavor paid off. He was a happy man and I was a happy woman (once it was off and I could breathe again).

There is the flipside of the coin – the basic fact that your boobs can actually kill you. We press our mamms into steel devices, flat as a pancake, and have pictures taken of them to clear ourselves of cancerous protuberances. There is nothing sexy about that, especially when said procedure requires a repeat because your sugar lumps are dense. There is also nothing sexy about a double-mastectomy and the fact that our healthcare providers deem this often to be an out-patient surgery. At the end of the day, as my middle son so casually informed me, your breasts, boobs, ta tas, mamms, sugar lumps, your bosoms, your rack – they are merely transformed sweat glands. Sexy, huh? If you have them, take care of them (and, for the love of God, go get a proper fitting). Don’t post them on Instagram – it’s not lady like. Enjoy them, there is a reason they are sensitive and they are displayed endlessly on Instagram and Snapchat. If you’ve joined the forces of the Wounded Warriors, wherein you have conquered The Big C, feel my arms wrapped around you in a big hug. You ARE a warrior.

For me, I’ll hang on to them as long as they’ll have me. So long as they are appropriately pinned in, aligned and pointing jointly in the right direction, they still look pretty damn good.

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