Everyone loves a pregnant woman (but kids we could do without)

I've been noticing something funny lately. There have been more and more situations this month (thanks to having an amazingly hands-on husband) where I have been running errands or grabbing coffee by myself instead of with two kids in tow. And you know . . . it is truly incredible how nice people are to me when they see that I am pregnant. Chivalry is NOT dead. It is just reserved for the really, really big-bellied. I have people constantly opening doors for me, smiling and saying congratulations, helping me with my bags, and generally falling over themselves to serve me, inquire about my well-being, or wish me luck. It is like a big, fat love-fest, this being pregnant.

I was thinking about how warm and fuzzy the world had been to me one day last week, and wondering why it only happens on certain days. And then it dawned on me: People love to help pregnant women. They don't love to help frazzled mothers to small children.

This was a serious epiphany for me, and sadly, I think I'm right on this one. If I drop something in the store, alone in my pregnant state, people are rushing to help me pick it up. But if I'm pushing a cart with two small children in it, and groceries spill over the top and onto the floor, nobody helps me. In fact, most likely I will get disapproving looks instead. When I am alone and pregnant, people open doors for me. But I can't even tell you how many times I have struggled with opening a door while trying to squeeze a double stroller through, and people just breeze on by. When I'm pregnant, people let me go ahead of them in line at the store. When I have two loud kids in line, people sigh and seem annoyed that I'm even in their line of sight. When I flew to New York while pregnant, I was assisted by several strangers to get my stuff on the conveyor belt in security. When I flew to Florida with two small children, I am sweating and folding strollers and chasing kids, and everyone around me is rolling their eyes and moving my stuff to get ahead of me.
No one who sees me with two small children is saying congratulations, or asking how I'm doing, or really paying me any mind at all unless to passive-aggressively let me know that my kids are bothering them, and maybe I should have left them at home.

The whole thing makes me wonder what this is about. Is it because it's harder to judge a pregnant woman? I mean, most pregnant women have that "glow" that makes them look even more maternal. And barring smoking, open drug use, or bad hygiene, there isn't a whole lot you can do to make you seem like a bad mom while pregnant. But then when that little baby turns into a toddler and decides to pitch a fit for having to ride in the cart, or screams in a restaurant because they dropped a fork, then it's open season on your parenting skills and deficits as a mom.


But then I wonder . . . do people just like the idea of kids, but not the reality of them? I mean, pregnancy is really just a promise of a new life, but ultimately it's a nice, quiet promise. It's not yet spitting up or blowing out diapers or screaming as you run to the grocery store for milk. Maybe we live in a world that loves kids - as long as they are quiet, complacent, and preferably still in the womb.

It does give me pause to think about how true this mindset is in so many other variations:

I value my family, but I don't want to spend too much time with them
I support global missions, but I don't want to move anywhere extreme
I love social justice, as long as it doesn't make me too uncomfortable
I'm trying to purchase fair trade, but I don't want to spend extra money
I'm ready to go green, but I don't want to change my lifestyle.
I'd love to get in shape, as long as it doesn't require too much work.

While I'll love to pretend these inconsistencies are global observations, the truth is, they are a bit more personal for me than that. I think that life is full of things we aspire to, or want to value, that are just harder to play out when the rubber meets the road. It's interesting to be on the other end of it, when the world esteems my pregnancy, but is short with my kids because my kids are short of perfect. But then I think of the ways that I don't hold to my own values, and how I voice a passion for something that I don't live up to, or have the patience to see through to completion.
Is it just me? Or do you see this play out in your own life? What things do you love the idea of, more than the reality?





16 comments:

  1. Wow, this is so true. I was right with you, nodding my head and saying "Amen" under my breath, but then when you asked me to reflect on my own life...mm, not so enthusiastic there. ;-)

    Seriously, people do like really really tiny babies, as long as they aren't crying or breastfeeding or anything distasteful like that. But I think the general public finds children mostly an inconvenience. It's that way in churches, too - they are all falling over themselves to usher you to the nursery.

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  2. I don't have examples for you at the moment but I loved the post. Great observations, so very very true.

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  3. I totally resonated with this post and began to feel real conviction in it. When you mentioned desiring to get in shape but not wanting to put the effort out to accomplish it and also about going green. I work very hard to think of ways I could reduce, reuse, and recycle and then hardly ever act on them. Thanks for an eye opener today, I think I'll go work out and take my reusable water bottle with me! :)

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  4. okay yes if i admit it i LOVED being pregnant for the attention. i think i would want to be pregnant for the attention but don't want any more kids.

    i also want to be hot and in shape but don't actually always enjoy the working out.

    :)

    have you seen the new show: IN THE MOTHERHOOD? last week one of hte moms pretended to be prego b/c she was getting tired of prego women getting to go to the front of the line etc. :)
    this post made me think of that.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMXKncgiJo0

    hope you have a good day!

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  5. I love this post! I now get it, but did not before having a child. I was one of those people looking at kids and making comments, until I walked in the shoes of a mother, I did not understand.

    I'm with dreamingBIGdreams, I want to be skinny but don't make time or take the time to exercise.

    I want a clutter free house but instead of working towards that goal, I sit on the computer in the evenings and work or read facebook. I am getting nowhere fast with the laptop on my lap.

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  6. Anonymous9:29 AM

    Brilliant. I read recently, "If you want to be someone you've never been, you must do things you've never done." I think we all have found ourselves subscribing to ideas instead of realities and this is an example of how we might choose to DO those things that will make us the people we want to be. Thank you!

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  7. I think the idea of things is always always always easier than the reality. Sigh. It was not my idea to have a large brood ... but some of my choices played into it and some of God's leading played into it -- and here we are. People turn their noses at us out and about with the whole crew and I have no idea why they find us so annoying ... but we rarely all go out so that gives them less opportunity. (in the USA)

    i had a weird God moment in Texas I need to write you to tell you about it. :0 ) Praying for you and Mark and your precious baby girl ... AND the three living outside of the womb children -- even if they're not perfect and silent. :)

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  8. I think you're epiphany is right. I noticed that when I was alone whilst preggo with #2, people would excitedly ask "Is this your first?!?" and when I would say "No, it's my second." They would look suddenly disappointed and bored: "oh." And turn away!

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  9. Yup, sad but true ... and uncomfortably close to home. I didn't get it before I was a parent, though crying children didn't bother me as much as some. Now that I've become a mother myself, I make a point to look offer help when it looks like another parent is struggling or smile (rather than grimace) at little ones doing what children do. Becoming a mom increased my respect for other moms about 1000%.

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  10. this is so convicting (came here from Ruth's blog) because yes, first I am agreeing with you and it makes me so angry, but then I am thinking about my own life and my own contradictions. Great post, so thought-provoking.

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  11. Children, at least in this highly-structured society, are overrated and extraneous. ( And before anyone gets riled up or self-righteous, we have three.) I can see, however, how welcomed kids would be in a more relaxed, agrarian type of environment.
    Anyway, I don't have any observations to make on fantasy v. reality, but I WILL state unequivocally those stupid parking spaces at Babies R' Us for pregnant women is bone-headed. The person who needs to park closer is the mom with infants and/or toddlers who scream and balk at getting in a stroller.
    And while I'm on a soapbox about what looks good on paper, but sucks in motion...What about handicapped parking (FOR WHICH MY 77+ YEARS MOTHER HAS a PLACARD)? WTH?! If you're too handicapped to park farther away, what're you doing at Home Depot anyway? Or at TGI Fridays during Happy Hour?
    People with wheelchairs (MY MOTHER-IN-LAW INCLUDED) can ROLL. They should park in the last spots, not the first. I've considered this for a while. My logic is impeccable. I don't want any bleeding heart rationalizing. Phew! I feel better.

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  13. Holy cows, lady. What thought-provoking stuff! It's so true about the way people treat you when pregnant versus with kiddos in tow, I've noticed.

    And as for me...
    there are so many things. This season of life leaves me reeling...but I think I'm just making excuses when I say that. I say I'm all "green" but I don't always follow through. I'm all about justice, but what am I doing besides forking out money to Compassion and IJM. Forgetting to pray and to be truly active. Yeah, I do that.

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  14. that is SO true! I wonder why?!

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  15. Had to add that when I am with Jodnel, the three year old I volunteer with from Haiti, the only time I get the courtesy you wrote about experiencing while being pregnant is when he is asleep! In those cases, doors open for me, bus spots given up, etc. But if he's awake- no way!

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talk to me.

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