Hands Off the Belly...And the Heart

I walk into the gym and greet another coach who is on his way out after practice. His eyes go to my large pregnant belly and he snarls: 

"When are you two going to stop?"

I manage a smile and a silly retort about needing enough kids to fill both sides of a volleyball court. His eyebrows shoot up in surprise and he shakes his head with a frown and leaves. My heart sinks.

As the belly grows, so does the temptation to lose my cool with people who just don't know how to be nice to a pregnant lady. I am occasionally rested and cheerful enough to produce an intelligent and charitable response. The rest of the time I just stare like a fool wishing I had something (anything) fruitful to say to these people.

What is it about the pregnant woman that causes people such anxiety? They want to know how we are going to pay for college. I want to know why it concerns them so long as they don't have to pay for it. I can't tell you how many times I've been told that I'm crazy...or Superwoman. The two terms mean the same thing really. Calling me Superwoman is just another way of saying that what I'm doing (raising such a large family) cannot reasonably be done by average mortal beings. And since there are no actual super heroes....

I suppose I should just be happy that no one has laid hands on my abdomen yet this pregnancy. (I'm always tempted to ask the "touchers" if I can pat their bellies, too.) Perhaps it's greedy of me to want people to keep their rude comments to themselves as well.

Sometimes I think that their intentions must be good. Of course they mean well. Then it happens again and the truth is plain to me: They don't mean well at all...they're just mean. Unwilling to offer a kind or congratulatory word, they squeeze out what they perceive to be a wise and clever admonition. "Don't you two know how these things happen?" ha. ha. Usually with a smile so that they don't look mean. I'm always caught off guard by the smile. Then they strike with the punch. And as many of you know, it doesn't always take much to draw a few private tears from an expectant mother.

Perhaps some people are so miserable with their own families that they see my numbers and imagine their misery multiplied. They can't fathom, based on their own experience, that there could possibly be a multiplication of happiness. I am so sorry for them. I am also very tired of hearing from them. Their misery must run deep because it renders them entirely incapable of expressing even one word of authentic support or congratulations. They would bite off their tongues first, I think.

"Oh...well, I hope your other children will be okay."
"I guess it was about time for you to have another."
"How will you pay for college?"
"You two are gluttons for punishment!"
"I could never do it but I guess some women have that special gene."

Often smiling all the while...oblivious to the blow delivered to the mother's heart so full of the mystery of her child. The tiny beautiful kicks go on in spite of the snarky comments. Baby is untouched. But mama is stung.

This really is part of the third trimester misery. That and everyone informing me that I look like I'm going to pop. (I do look that way, but still...)

It's time to take another look at the ultrasound photos...and the beloved faces of my born children. I don't have the time or energy for mean people. I'm too busy preparing to multiply joy. But God help me to love them anyway.

"...Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the gentiles do the same? You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." --Matthew 5: 43-48
Posted on September 6, 2010 and filed under "large families", "pregnancy".