Thursday, August 16, 2007

More Belly Achin'

People don't know this, but pregnant women eventually have children.

think they know this. They see a pregnant woman, and they understand,
on some level, that the lumpy protrusion she's carrying around contains
a small human life form. But they don't truly grasp it.

How else
to explain the wild disparity between the way a woman is treated when
she is with child versus the way she's treated when she is with

Oh, I remember the days when my enormous form would
elicit smiles and loving words from total strangers. Women I didn't
know told me I was beautiful. Men stopped me to reminisce about their
wives' or girlfriends' pregnancies.

Now I'm just the motor
behind an unwieldy stroller that bruises people's ankles and terrifies
small dogs. I'm the woman getting looks because I should have known
better than to bring my toddler on an airplane – he's small; couldn't I
have just mailed him to our destination?

I was once a glorious
symbol of human fecundity. Now I'm just some kid's mom, and I'm taking
an awful long time with that squirmy potty-trainer in the bathroom

“I bet I could burst out in a fit of tears right here,
and a crowd of people would surround me, saying, ‘Oh, what's wrong?
What can we do for you? Comped meal?' ” a very pregnant Maura noted
over dinner at a restaurant the other night. “But if he cried,” she
motioned to Zev, “it would be, ‘Shut that damn kid up.' ”

She's right – but why?

kids move erratically and have the ability to leak fluid from every
orifice. They make a lot of noise for no apparent reason, and they
require bizarre and space-consuming gear. They're messy, fussy and not
a little bit gassy.

But so are pregnant women.

Maura and
I were working on a theory as to why this phenomenon occurs, why
society loathes moms but loves mothers-to-be. But when the food
arrived, Maura dove into her plate, Zev demanded to be taken to the
potty and we both lost our train of thought.

Forced to figure
this out on my own, I can only guess that it has something to do with
our national fascination with the Next Big Thing.

We love
expectation – anticipating something that is just outside our grasp.
Camping out in line for the first “Star Wars” film must have exceeded
the joy of actually seeing the film. Would anybody watch “American
Idol” if the buildup to the finale weren't so deliciously orchestrated?

A pregnant woman is like a wrapped present or a furniture
catalog; when we look at her, we can enjoy the idea of something –
which is often more gratifying than the thing itself.

Of course,
the “thing” in this case is a baby. A noisy, inconvenient baby. And
what baffles me is that a pregnant woman is always pregnant with a
baby. What else could be expected of someone who's expecting? Nobody
goes into labor and delivers a unicorn or a rainbow. There's no
mystery. The only mystery, to me, is why baby-haters love gestaters so

People have to know that eventually that pretty pregnant
lady will be flabby and overworked and tired of being judged for her
child-rearing decisions. Now, I'm not suggesting that society stop
bending over backwards for pregnant women. These poor souls have had
their bodies hijacked and have no idea what they're in for – give them
all the adoration you can.

What I'm saying is that there is no
reason the party has to end when the cord is cut. Instead, people
should view pregnancy for what it really is: the first step to a long,
long commitment.

Here's what I propose: Everyone reading this
should adopt one pregnant woman. Pick just one that you know, love her
up the way you already do – get her a mid-afternoon snack, rub her
shoulders, forgive her bizarre emotional outbursts. And then continue
to do this for the next 18 years.

Maybe you'll have to throw in
a few extra snacks for the moppets, and you'll definitely have to hold
off on scolding the woman when her little ones scream on the plane. But
otherwise, it won't be all that different than the way you treated her
before she popped.

If you need me, I'll be at the table with Maura, awaiting my random acts of kindness

1 comment:

  1. You should check out this article:
    I'm with the flight attendant; I'm just so sick of cute little kids saying cute little things, thus brightening up an entirely lousy experience I'd rather wallow in, like preparing for take-off on a plane. Damn dirty children.