Dear Breasts,

First off: I see you. I want you to know that. You have tirelessly nourished two demanding infants over countless hours of your existence. They’ve slapped you. They’ve scratched you. They’ve wasted your elixir by popping off at the slightest distraction, just as you were pouring your whole being into the effort. And have they ever taken one moment to say thank you? To say, “O source of my ginormous, thrice-rolled thighs, I appreciate you?” Of course not. They’ve taken you for granted. I can’t imagine what a letdown that must be. (No pun intended).

I hear you when you say you want a raise. I do acknowledge the hours of unexpected overtime you have worked: overnight shifts, sometimes two or three a night. Deeply admirable. I acknowledge your sacrifice, not just of your time, but also what years of hard labor have done to you. You say you are stretched and wasted—not to mention, that you stretch nearly to my waist. I hear you, I really do. No one questions your dedication.

However. I am afraid I must decline your request.

I would like us to take a moment to also acknowledge how much I have done to support you and how much this role has benefited you. I provided high-quality brassieres around the clock, 24-7—literally 24-7—support. I never forced you into any tight spaces. I avoided sleeping on top of you so you could have room to recover. Whenever you ached or chafed, I massaged you and liberally applied healing ointment derived from the sebaceous glands of the finest New Zealand sheep, which I must remind you did not come cheap. The hospital charged sixteen dollars for just that little half-ounce tube, believe it or not! Finally, I advocated for you when passersby were scandalized by your on-the-go labors and demanded you relegate yourself to the nearest public restroom to complete your work.

You have boasted much about your beauty before you took on this role and bemoaned how that beauty has suffered due to your exertion and the challenging working conditions. I would remind you, however, that beauty is ephemeral. Had you not latched on to this role, the final destination would have been the same: middle age is upon you, after all. There’s a 100 percent chance you wouldn’t be going back to predicting the rain forecast. No more Mel Brooks burying his face in you, declaring how much he missed you “boys.” Seth McFarlane would never sing your praises at the Academy Awards. And, furthermore, this work has had its perks! You were never fuller, rounder, or grander than in the months prior to your service. True, the much-adored “bump” beneath you may have overshadowed this fact, but I didn’t miss it. On the job, you’ve swelled so gloriously that no one could fail to notice you.

Like nursing, teaching, and corporate litigation, your work is noble. I don’t disagree it is undervalued. Sure, professionals and organizations the world over tout the importance of your role, but I agree that’s largely lip service. The system doesn’t support you. My own employer has nominally had to make room for you to do your work, it’s true, but I get it: yours is a generally unfunded mandate. This state of affairs is systemic and truly beyond my capacity to alter. But think of the exposure you’ve had. Think of the bragging rights. You bear the battle scars of martyrdom! You can find unquantifiable value and compensation in the pride of a job well done.

I am sad to hear you say you’re thinking of quitting in spite of all of my support and the heightened visibility and praise you’ve had in this role. I admit I’m also a bit surprised. One of your best qualities as a worker is how you always go with the flow, producing to meet demand. I do have to remind you that we have several equally competitive candidates vying for your position should you make good on your threat to resign. Yes, I know I would have to pay more for them up front, but they possess greater consistency and flexibility, and the results they produce are substantially the same. Let’s be honest with ourselves for a second: in just a few months’ time, that ungrateful little whiner you serve is going to be eating fossilized animal crackers from between the seats of the Pacifica anyway, irrespective of your contributions. And yes, yes, I know, your immune benefits; antibodies, yada yada, yes, you’ve made this point very loudly. Have you ever seen the inside of a daycare, though? Because under the veneer of copious disinfectant lies an irrepressible mass of viral terror and bacterial biodiversity. It is magical thinking, at best, to imagine we have any control over preventing childhood illness.

I promise you that I value the work you are doing. I hope you will reconsider and continue staying true to the values of our shared mission and our commitment to doing the best work we can in our partnership. Thank you for all you have done.

Your Breast Friend and Bosom Buddy,