Later, as I stood in Kroger’s line with a cart full of girl, the checkout lady gave us all the once over, looked at me and asked, “So, are you going to try again for a boy?”
I had no words. I am not normally flustered by strangers’ idiotic comments, but this one took me aback. I stumbled around on my words and said, “No!! This is my niece, these two are mine! And I have a son! We’re not trying again for anything!! We can’t have any more kids!” (And yes, every sentence ended with an exclamation point or two.)
Because that’s how I do, I tweeted it almost immediately afterward.
My friend Katie suggested I should've tried this:
And my friend Sarah, disguised as somebody named Ernie, had this to say:
And my friend Gen added this:
What Sarah said made me the angriest (not angry at her, but angry because what she said was true).
When I was pregnant, all three times, I loved having people touch my belly. People I actually knew. People in my family, people I went to church with, people who I had seen before and would likely see again. Not people in grocery stores or restaurants or Targe’. But there is no way I would let any one rub my stomach (or almost any other part of me) if I was not heavy with child. So why, when children are involved, do people feel like they have permission to grope around rudely on your body or your psyche?
It is not a new phenomenon, and I’m sure it has been blogged about ad nauseum. But people do feel like a woman’s body is public property.
A pregnant woman’s growing belly is a beacon for unsanitized hands.
A young woman’s (ok, a woman of any age) breasts just beg for comment (They’re HUGE! They’re TINY! They’re FLOPPY! They’re FAKE!).
Her hair, her face, her butt, her ankles (or, more accurately; her frizzy hair, her wrinkly face, her flat butt, her fat ankles)… there is no part of a woman’s body that is granted reprieve from scrutiny.
Like I said, I know this isn’t new. And the next thought I had probably wasn’t original either, but it struck me somewhere deep in my ever-defensive heart.
Do men endure such intrusive comments? Do they feel insecure going in public when they aren’t feeling their, uh, hottest? Do men have to have an answer prepared for why they got their wives pregnant AGAIN SO SOON? Do they have to deflect inquiries as to why their wife is NOT PREGNANT YET? Do men feel the need to explain that this is just an off day and really they are more put together than this and please don’t judge them because really that is the last thing they need right now?
The answer, it would seem, is a resounding no.
G, a working mother of a happy healthy one year old boy, even tweeted this:
(rakicy is her husband's twitter handle)
(That's a whole 'nuther post! Why no one would dare ask a man
why he's working when he has a new baby,
but women get bludgeoned to bits with this very question.)
Yes, I know men suffer from insecurities just like women do. No one is invicible when it comes to matters of pride and feeeeeelings. But using my generally-secure, water-off-a-duck’s-back hubby as a reference, they just don’t let it get to them as much as women do. If my husband had heard that comment he would have laughed politely, quipped something about how three’s plenty, and forgotten it as soon as he left the store.
But I couldn’t forget it. For two major reasons, I couldn’t get that lady’s unintentionally rude comment out of my head.
1) It’s none of her dadgum stinkin’ business anyway. I know she thought she was just making casual conversation, but I didn’t ask her about her personal life. I wonder if she’d have been just as affronted as I was if I had said, “Hey! Thanks for ringing me up. How’s your sex life?”
2) What if we WERE trying for another baby? What if we’d been trying to get pregnant for months upon excruciating months? What if it was a dagger to my heart to hear someone say that my three (ok, my two, but I readily count my niece as my own) beautiful brilliant wonderful girls were not enough, and that I should “keep trying” until I get it right with a male heir to the throne?
What about THAT?
Every day is laced with a network of personal minefields. There is no way to know who you might accidentally offend with some trite comment. I have done way more than my share of hurting someone’s feelings because I’ve spoken without thought. And like I said, normally I would have let that sort of comment slide, but it was so incredibly insensitive it stuck in my craw (what does that even mean!?) and it itched so long I finally had to scratch it.
I’m just glad I can scratch the itch via blog, instead of yelling at that poor lady about what a creep she was.