A couple years ago, when I was working as a receptionist at a chemical distribution plant, I was at a company picnic at a local amusement park. My twins, Tolkien and Indigo, who were six at the time, were off riding rides with their fifteen year old sister and I was standing around talking with the warehouse guys. It was later in the day. The picnic had been going on for a while. One of my coworkers, Edward, who was about four beers in, suddenly said, “Well, I’d better go make my rounds while the single moms are open to suggestion.”

“Hey!” I said.

“Oh, sorry, Gloria,” Edward said. “Didn’t realize you were there.”

Having spent most of my life as one of the guys, I’ve developed a pretty thick skin for the things guys say to each other when ladies aren’t around. I laughed off Edward’s comment and, really, it didn’t bother me; I happen to know that Edward is an especially nice person, and I understood he didn’t mean me specifically. Yet, his words stayed with me.

Since I was a lad I’ve admired beat literature and its developers. My young mind was taken with the romantic image of Kerouac roaming the interior of the body politic, a mad sweating virus on the loose in the highway vein of Amerika, Ginsberg holy maniac,chanting, praying, exorcising a generation ruined by madness, Burroughs and Gysin, pushing the envelope, rubbing out the word, and di Prima, conjuring, straddling the magick/dream line, throwing us bits of tasty metamorsels and sumptuous subconscious feasts from the other side.

I have seven-year-old twin boys. I’ve been a single mom for almost three years, and in the time leading up to my separation, we had a family bed. I mean, the boys had their own room, but most nights we slept together. This made sense being that I breastfed them until they were two, but it was also a parenting choice that made sense to my co-parent and me on a personal level. The family bed.

As time has gone on – as the boys have gotten older – it’s made more and more sense to redefine boundaries. We talk very openly in our house, and the phrase “personal bubble” is used to describe limit setting and expectations. Nonetheless, I remain steadfast in my belief that the human body isn’t something to be ashamed of, and in many ways the boys are still too young to sexualize it. We have basic rules of courtesy in the house, like to knock on the door before entering bathrooms or bedrooms, but we don’t always remember to shut the door in the first place.

So, imagine my surprise when, as I was getting dressed one day recently, one of my sons came in and, for reasons I’ll never understand, lifted up my breasts, looked at me, and said, “Didn’t these use to be up here?”

Cue the sound of a needle skipping off a record.

Cue the sound of my door closing. Forever.

Mom’s bubble just got bigger.