At the outset, there are a couple of things you should know about me: one, I am not sentimental in strictly normal ways, and two, I have a bathrobe.
A lot of people have bathrobes, I realize, but I never bothered with one until I was twenty-eight years old, chiefly because I have a general disdain of sleepwear. I’m either dressed or not. Anything in between is usually an exercise in discomfort. It’s either of the psychological variety (borne of the conflict of striking sexy while the lace scritches hives all over the bits it’s covering – in its not-covering sort of way) or else it’s the practical kind of annoyance. I do not care for being strangled by flannel.
However, being enormously pregnant and staring down weeks, if not months, of racing to the nursery six times a night in the altogether, I figured I should have a dressing gown. It was hideous – a Wedgewood blue, murdered bathmat. Maybe five bathmats. It was enormous. Believe me, it needed to be. But it was functional and sturdy and, for the first few weeks of each of my children’s lives, the only thing they ever saw me in. They bonded to a bundle of coarse, blue terrycloth with a milk machine inside of it. It was my uniform and it cuddled me through the most exhausting days I’ve ever known.
Since then, I’ve become accustomed to having a robe for out-of-the-shower-puttering, nightly-face-washing, and make-the-coffee-before-all-else-for-god’s-sake mornings. I’m thoroughly domesticated now. But, not being much of a romantic, I’ve been callously looking to replace my tattered blue rag for ages. And that’s another thing about me – I’m a hopeless shopper. I don’t like it and I’m no good at it. Ergo, I’ve been wearing the same threadbare cover-up for years, well beyond its decency. I can’t even grab up the newspaper from the driveway dressed in it on trash days for fear they’ll cart me off with the rubbish.
Yesterday, I found a new robe. It’s long enough (don’t really see the point in being cozy from only the tush up,) it feels like whipped cream and it’s an excellent shade of red. And it was a bargain. I love it. My girls are at a sweet age where they still find me interesting, so late yesterday afternoon, we were all three cooing over and petting my purchase as I sheared the tags from it. It’s that yummy.
I shook the old blue monstrosity free of its hanger and unceremoniously wadded it into a trash bag, reminding the girls of all that it had seen. It had been with me in the hospital for both of their births. It had been cried on (by them and me,) spit up on, peed on, and covered in strained sweet potatoes. I’d tucked them inside of it for cold middle of the night feedings and slept in it on the nursery floor when I was just too tired to go back to my own bed, knowing they’d need me again as soon as my head had found the just-the-right-temperature spot on my pillow. I’ve worn it every Christmas morning for the last nine years.
“I don’t want you to throw it out,” said my oldest.
“It’s a wreck,” I said.
“No, I love it,” wheedled the littlest, hugging its hem to her chest.
“How about if I give you a piece of it?”
They both agreed and I went to work, cutting a wide band of sleeve for each child. Then finally, they let me load the sad, ragged thing into the big garbage bin.
The little one wore her bathrobe blankie sleeve to bed — on her head.
What neither of them know is that the ratty old bathrobe has been without a right-hand pocket for almost five years. It’s been snipped into two terrycloth hearts and tucked away in the box where I keep my special things.
I may not be overly sentimental, but I’m not made of stone.