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Being a mommy was not always so yummy Add to ...

My first daughter was born on Easter weekend, 19 years ago. Maybe that's why, beyond all the colourful baskets of chocolate bunnies and candy eggs, I've always seen this holiday as a time of sweet surprises and cozy beginnings -- and why I was particularly inspired to host a chic little baby shower this past week for one of my treasured Fashion Television producers, the talented Tamara Petrie, who's expecting her first child in about 10 days.

Rewind to spring 1987. I'm sitting in the CITY-TV makeup room, 8½ months pregnant, about to tape a segment for FT, feeling like a beached whale in a voluminous polyester maternity outfit (especially maddening since tight-fitting Lycra was all the rage that season) when my boss, Moses Znaimer, decided to wind me up.

"Hi Chubby!" he quipped. "So, how long are you planning to take off once this baby's born?" And then, "Because there's a lineup of 22-year-old girls outside my office, all wanting to replace you."

Oy. That master button-pusher always did know how to get to me. "Don't worry, Moses," I said. "I'm not taking off for long."

True to my word, I was back at the old grind about three weeks later, struggling to look svelte in a sea of skinny fashion people, at a time when having babies wasn't fashionable.

By the time Bekky was four months old, I was jetting to the Paris collections, sobbing the entire way across the Atlantic.

Thankfully, times have changed: Not only is maternity wear hipper, but suddenly, with scads of Hollywood celebrities and glamorous models hopping on the mommy bandwagon, pregnancy in general is one happening trend.

It's a miracle that those of us who felt compelled to rush back to work didn't raise a bunch of misfits, though our guilt may never leave us. Still, I don't regret my decision: That was the path that made sense at the time, and one of the sacrifices necessary for my career.

Fast-forward to spring, 2006. I am sitting at my dining-room table, which is decorated for the baby shower with chocolate Easter chicks, surrounded by seven young women who help put Fashion Television together each week. They're all in their 20s and early 30s. I feel like the voice of experience.

I delight in telling how it used to be, eager to make them appreciate this revolutionary notion of extended mat leave, painting pictures of a preposterous time when women hid their tremendous tummies, and then, not long after delivering, look for the right daycare for their tiny tots, only to rush back to the careers they had fought so long and hard for. We thought we were having it all back then. Or at least, we killed ourselves trying.

Tamara is presented with her shower gift: a groovy pair of checked Vans runners for baby, and a matching pair for mom.

After the FT gals leave, I pore over old pictures of my girls. There is Bekky, on her second Easter, in wide-eyed wonder over the basket that mysteriously appeared at her nursery door. And Joey, on an official egg hunt, peeking through the garden for hidden treasures.

It all seems so long ago. I promise myself to indulge in the fun of the season again, and put together some baskets for my two big bunnies this Easter, thankful that maybe we mother hens really have helped pave the way for a whole new generation of chicks who might just be able to have their chocolate, and eat it too.

Dear Jeanne: I've been going to my hairdresser for years, following her from salon to salon to her current in-home shop. I usually bring flowers or a food treat. Should I be tipping instead? Shauna

Dear Shauna: Tipping hairdressers is de rigueur, but when the hairdresser is the salon owner, the practice isn't always necessary. Tips are in order for employees, because they sometimes don't make that much, and 10 to 20 per cent is the norm. But when your hairdresser owns the business, that's tricky. I think your gesture of bringing a gift is lovely. Perhaps you could save up and present her with one nice big gift a couple of times a year.

Dear Jeanne: I am completing a PR degree at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax. It is my dream to have a career in fashion and I thought this degree would be a good stepping stone for that. It's getting closer to graduation time, so I'm starting to explore options. Could you provide some guidance? Kim Humes

Dear Kim: If you really want to learn about fashion, you've got to embrace every facet of it, from retail to media to public relations to show production. And that would entail getting some first-hand experience.

I suggest you volunteer, even on a part-time basis, to any fashion outlet you can think of -- from the fashion section of your student newspaper, to the PR department of a local shopping mall.

While Halifax might not support a burgeoning fashion industry, there are undoubtedly local designers who could use a hand.

And you can always spend your free time researching different aspects of the fashion world. Acquainting yourself with fashion history would also expand your vision of the arena, as well as impress potential employers or educators you encounter in the future.

Send questions to . Jeanne Beker is host of FashionTelevision.

Join Jeanne Beker in an on-line chat about fashion this Monday, April 17, at noon. Visit globeandmail.com.

 

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