amazing what people will say to a woman who is just going about her business, and would prefer to be left alone, solely because she happens to have a fetus on board. i’ve gotten accustomed to the “when is the baby due” and “are you having a boy or girl” inquiries- i can see them coming based on where oncoming eyes are focused.
but people do nice things, too. tonight someone kindly offered me a chair so i could sit down during a short wait for a table at a local restaurant. i thanked her, and assumed that was the end of our interaction. instead, she felt she had earned the right to hover around me, asking the usual questions. and i tolerated it, but focused on continuing my ongoing conversation with my husband and giving him the occasional “do you see what i put up with” eyeroll. and then she asked me something mind-meltingly stupid.
“do you work?”
umm, yes, what else would i do with my time?
“when are you going to quit your job? you’re not taking some time off and going back, are you?”
in fact, i am taking time off until my daycare spot opens up and then i am going to go back.
[inner monologue: fuck you, lady! i've put almost a dozen years into getting here, and my work is important to me too, so shove it up your ass!]
“oh. well. [snort] “
here i see it’s time to make the stoneface as she makes a complete asshole of herself and i think of how i would like to poke her in the eyeball with that fork laying over there…
“[some convoluted relative person] has her kid in daycare, it’s just horrible how she drops her off and leaves her when they have something like 2 or 3 infants per daycare provider…”
stoneface. keep. making. stoneface.
and then our wait ended, and fixer took me away and calmed me down before i committed battery.
these attitudes amaze me. first, the assumption that any woman who is 9 months into her pregnancy is not a dangerous creature who should not be provoked with such nonsense. second, the perception that women should all quit their jobs because, omg, teh behbeh! this says to me that, clearly, we have no other purpose once this offspring thing happens. which is a load of horseshit.
i personally faced a huge uphill battle at my workplace due to these prevailing attitudes. i work in a pretty badass scientific center, but the middle-to-senior leadership are mostly grayhairs whose wives stay home with the kids and keep them free from kid-related responsibilities. if they have spouses or families at all. the perceptions of these grayhairs shapes local culture, of course. so when i went and turned up all pregnant and whatnot, it was a huge effort to convince the relevant people that i remained committed to my career and actually wished to come back after appropriate postpartum recovery time. from what i can gather- though i have flogged myself and pushed well beyond the limits that any reasonable human being should set up during this type of physiological challenge, in some cases to my own detriment- there are still parties that will believe i’m coming back when they see it.
so thanks for that, society. thanks for the extra hurdles, because i haven’t jumped enough of them yet.
not helpful to my case (but perhaps the right choice for her, and that’s just fine) was the more senior female who gave up her position shortly after announcing her pregnancy. department culture was all afire with that story, right as my own abdomen started to get notably round. awesome timing.
thanks, cultural standards, highlighting that other woman’s decision as The Right One or The Typical One, and then comparing to me.
but i keep returning to the question of why, for twentysomething years, people did not feel compelled to trample on my day by asking me invasive questions about my life choices based on some unique aspect of my appearance. (except the people who feel compelled to ask about my racial background, but i generally have to assume someone like that has other issues.) one appearance-changing episode lasting several months and suddenly everyone has the right to ask everything of someone who is pretty much out of patience (who perhaps never had a lot to begin with).
how about you just smile at the lady, because we all know there’s a baby in there and we all know how it got there and we all know she has some interesting decisions ahead of her, and move along? having the incredible audacity to show oneself in public while pregnant is not the same as giving permission to be interrogated or lectured about women’s proper places in society.