By DEBORAH JAYNE
The first time it happened, his curiosity nearly swept me off my feet with surprise.
I’d never hidden my body from the children before.
They’d never seemed to notice.
From the moment you enter the birthing suite, you kiss your privacy goodbye. A stadium-full of people witness your greatest – naked – triumph and from then on, expect precious few ‘private moments’ alone.
While I’m not the sort of person who will parade around the beach in a swimsuit or wear a revealing cocktail dress, the loss of privacy to the three new little people in my life came surprisingly easy…. until now.
It’s not my eldest son, who at ten still giggles with embarrassment at the mention of a girlfriend, covers his eyes when actors ‘smooch’ in movies and tells me girls are ‘yukky’. Rather, it’s my eight-year-old son who has suddenly dropped the mask of innocence to stare with unconcealed fascination when I strip down to my underwear.
One day, without warning, I look up to find one wide-eyed and motionless, staring intently at my breasts. Perhaps my surprise was elevated by the fact that this was my middle, rather than my eldest child.
I knew the day would come, but expected to deal with them in age order. Yet a child barely more than half my height, my middle-boy, was completely hypnotised by my near-nudity. The moment was both awkward and surprisingly unsettling.
While my older and young sons are still blissfully ignorant of all things sexual, my eight-year-old son will stop mid-stride to watch underwear commercials on the television, staring with open-mouthed intrigue at the models bouncing around the screen in their smalls.
Without knowing why, he’s captivated, totally mesmerised and taking in every detail, delighted by sights he is unable to rationalise and feelings he does not yet understand.
He hasn’t asked us about the birds ‘n’ bees, too preoccupied with his MineCraft and Hey Day to worry about where babies come from, but he is developing an irreversible awareness that has already changed the shape of our mother-son relationship.
While he’s not hiding his body from me, still my little boy who needs help washing his hair and brushing his teeth, I am no longer comfortable being undressed around him. Though it was inevitable, there is a sort of sadness when one relationship ends so that another can begin.
I never thought I’d say this, but I’m actually a little sorry to be reclaiming my privacy – if only because it means my little boys are growing up.
Did your parents undress in front of you when you were growing up?