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?


9 comments:

  1. I think this post is so very true
    Honestly, I suppose the whole "green" thing...I understand it...realize it..see good in it BUT on the other hand I think this whole movement has become extreme. It's a struggle of mine~
    sandy toe

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  2. this post is perfect and so very true.

    I have struggled with the exact same thing. Everyone loves a first time pregnant woman especially. Once you get past 2, they all ask if you know what is causing it.

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  3. This is SOOOOOOOOOOO true. When I was pregnant with my first I felt like I could be pregnant forever because people were SO nice and chivalrous. As soon as the stroller came into the picture though, no one ever opened the door for me anymore. I distinctively remember telling my husband about it. I also agree with Sandy Toes. I want to be green and understand it, but it is a MAJOR lifestyle change... and sometimes I find myself rolling my eyes at commercials talking about GOING GREEN. I'm guilty too...

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  4. I agree I think the first child is seen as something so sweet and innocent but once you are on to baby #2 or #3 people think what is she doing having more she already has two?? Bigger families are not very accepted today. I agree with your entire post and struggle with all the things listed.

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  5. this post is so funny..I thought I was the only one who was just "self-conscious" and imagining that kinda treatment. I know I am a bit skewed as I have 3 kiddos under 5 and a hug belly...people look at me at times like I am a criminal or something disgusting...someone even asked me if I was trying to be "octo-mom"...I just laugh it off...but it is funny to see someone else note it...

    I saw a radiant pregant woman with her 4 young children the other day and thought it was the most beautiful sight I had seen in a while...so whether people like your reality or not...it is the most blessed reality to be having at this time of life...how blessed to be having another little life to love...

    xoxo

    Tonya

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  6. Interesting perspective.
    My daughters were 4 and 2 when I was pregnant and I got nothing but smiles and support from everyone I met and my children were with me 100% of the time.

    Most people would ask me about the pregnancy and then eagerly talk to my daughters about it as well.
    It just seemed a general air of happiness and excitement and curiousity surrounded me.

    I'm really wondering if it's more the area one lives in? My 1st and 3rd pregnancies I lived in family oriented states. I was pregnant with my middle one in a less family oriented city and I didn't get as much support or smiles or encouragement.

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  7. A lesson I gleaned from this article: Never leave the house without a pillow up your shirt!

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  8. So true! I LOVE the idea of being debt free in a few years, but I don't enjoy living on a tight budget in order to get there....

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  9. I was just thinking the same thing the other day! I'm 36 weeks and people are offering me their umbrellas and places to sit. I didn't think the ladies at Costco were going to let me leave if I carried a box of oatmeal to the car myself! I generally have had good experiences on planes and such, but I was struck that the kindness does fall short when the kids get older. I guess I should be a better help to other moms.

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