Or, rather, I occasionally wear a red housecoat.
You see, when I was preparing for the arrival of my first child, I thought of all of the times that I would need to just throw something on to stumble through the darkness into my little boy’s bedroom to nurse and care for his needs. I came upon a red velour housecoat that called out to me from the racks. It said, with a smirk and serious eyes, “You’ve got this. You are going to rock this mommy business, and I radiate strong beauty and confidence. Just think of all that we can accomplish together!”
Into my wardrobe went the lovely red housecoat, awaiting the moment of its debut. I packet it up with my other hospital stay necessities and our journey together began.
I’m not sure I ever actually wore the robe while in the hospital. As it turns out, spending the majority of your life listening to your mother teach breastfeeding classes or administer advice to struggling new mothers does not mean that you will be an instant pro breastfeeder. In fact, even if your mom is the best lactation consultant in the world (very little bias is included in this statement, of course 😉 ), you still might bear a child who can’t figure it out either, and you might spend every waking moment trying to figure it all out. It took four months, but we finally got the hang of it…just in case you were curious.
I did eventually get back to our little home, and rise in the night to answer the call of my sweet new little human, and I did, indeed grab my lovely red robe and snuggle into it. That is, until the words “red robe” echoed in my mind…jerking me back in time (while wandering in the dark towards the nursery)…
Then, like a stealthy night ninja, a collection of memories tiptoed to the front of my consciousness.
There had been a great spooky tale of a spirit wearing a red hooded cape, told to me by a trusted friend who had seen it. Then another story from a coworker that seemed to describe the very same spirit, whom he informed me was the goddess of the underworld…or something equally disturbing…and the lovely red velour robe suddenly took on a new personality. (I’m quite gullible, I have been told. Just ask Tracie Follette about the time her dentist sharpened her teeth down to an 1/8″ – oh, and they each came to a point. She was not the trusted friend that I mentioned, though since that day she has regained my trust completely. ;))
Never again would I look at my housecoat the same way. It was now The Red Robe.
Every. Single. Time. That I put on my robe, or even glanced at it sideways, heebie jeebies would spread all over my body. The snuggly time of night nursing was spent adoring my little baby boy (and/or trying not to cry because we were still floundering this far into our nursing relationship). However, I frequently turned on the TV…partially to keep me awake during the second, third, or fourth nightly “bonding experience,” but also to keep my mind off of the scarlet red tinted shadows I could almost see in dark corners.
At times, over the next 6 years, I would hide it deep within my closet – so I wouldn’t have to look at it. Warm layers of PJ’s were the better answer to night time chills anyway. Who needs a fuzzy robe, right?
I sincerely wished, most of the time, that I had picked the pretty pink robe instead. Sure, it wasn’t as bold. No, it hadn’t been my favorite. But if I had chosen the pink housecoat instead…I wouldn’t spend all of this time hiding from my red one!
Every so often I would consider giving it away to someone who would appreciate it’s confident boldness – it’s fuzzy warm beauty. I could get rid of it! But no…I would look the robe eye to collar cuff..and I would say “‘I do not fear those bright red sleeves, with nobody inside them.’ I said, and said, and said those words. I said them, but I lied them.” (Thank you, Dr. Seuss, for writing my favorite story What was I Scared Of?, and random dude for narrating it.)
I mentioned this long-term dysfunctional relationship to my friend who had first shared his experience with me. He said, “There was no red cloak.”
Hmm…”No, you say?…No Red Cloak at all?”
Guess it was all for nothing. Guess I can wear my robe again. I mean, my housecoat.
It has taken a while, but I have redefined my relationship with my lovely red housecoat. I can even call it a robe. Not a problem. I’m even wearing it right now. Of course, I’d be lying if I said the thought doesn’t still cross my mind…old habits are hard to break (especially ones based on irrational fears)…and it did lead me to sit down and write up this narrative of The Red Robe…
But I’m no longer afraid. I no longer give in to the little whispers of heebie jeebies that had haunted me for so long.
I may still entertain the occasional irrational fear from time to time…but not about my housecoat. Now we’re old friends…just like those famous pale green pants and the little – um – whatever he was – who was afraid of them.