Friday, July 22, 2005

Ask an awkward question---be prepared for an awkward answer..

I just had another one of those experiences that makes me so glad that I have been friends with witty and sarcastic and quick thinking people for a long time!! This last weekend someone said to me "I can't belief you were running around so much last night what with being so pregnant and all" At this point, my raised eyebrows and blank expression might have led them to rethink what they just said......a long pause... "you ARE pregnant, right?" "Nope, just fat". That is my reply. That is always my reply (this has happened to me before). Ironically, I have lost 10 pounds recently.

I am of the opinion that if you are going to ask a potentially awkward question, be prepared for an answer that makes you uncomfortable. I am the first to admit that I am no longer the rail thin person I was in college and that I am a big girl--but I don't think that I look pregnant. Well, maybe first trimester pregnant, but not PREGNANT pregnant. I am blessed (or cursed) to be friends w/ the cutest pregnant women ever. I am talking super skinny "I just swallowed a basketball", their face and bum doesn't get fat, pregnant. I marvel that at 9 months pregnant, they still have skinnier thighs and arms then I do. Good for them. Some of it is genetics and most of it is exercise. Most of these ladies exercise regularly though out their lives--pregnancy included.

A long time ago I might have handled this question a different way. I might have been embarrassed and tried to make the asker not feel stupid--all the while feeling stupid myself. No more. Part of being a grown up means taking control of my own situation and not allowing others to impact how I feel. I am aware that this is easier said then done, but practice helps. I got lots of practice after I had my daughter about 5 years ago. As the rest of our friends had baby number two and even three, we still had just the one. Well meaning, but still very rude, people would come up to me and ask "when are you going to have a brother or sister for Lauren?" After the first 20 times of saying "well, we haven't really be able to conceive so we are try to decide if we should do IVF, adopt or use a surrogate".... I started making up answers that would give the maximum impact. I do believe in being polite, but it is ok to teach a lesson too. I would say things like "we don't want anymore" or "Never, I'm infertile but thanks for bringing it up" and even "we didn't even want the one we got--why would we want another?" (this was never in earshot of my daughter and clearly not true). I kept a very straight face and didn't give the asker a clue if I was kidding or not. I figure if you think I am kidding, then the non answer is your clue to butt out. If you think I am serious, then you deserve to feel uncomfortable with the answer.

This point was brought home to me recently at a funeral. My friend had twins very early. After 7 months of struggle, little Juliet died while her sister Stella is fine. I had a chance to speak to another mother there who lost a baby. She told me horror stories of the things that people said. Most of it was well meant but still terribly rude. Things like "at least you still have your other kids".( Yes, well that doesn't negate missing the one you lost), "at least she will go straight to heaven" (I won't even touch that one). You get the idea. I shudder to think of the well meaning things my friend had to listen to and try to ignore on that very emotional day.

I should quality all this by saying I put my foot in my mouth all the time. I guess none of us mean to do it, but it doesn't make it less annoying. I know that I am going to try a little bit harder to keep my curiosity at bay and keep my mouth shut!!

8 comments:

lisa v. clark said...

But it's okay if you say really, really awkward things to your FAMILY, right?. . . right?

c jane said...

My husband and I are now saying "Actually, we've been trying to get on Fear Factor for a couple years now. After that happens, we'll start thinking about kids." 'Cause every body loves Fear Factor right???

Bek said...

C,

I LOVE it. Like I said...ask an awkward question....

We have a lot in common, London, your brother, dairy intolerance w/ an unfortunate love of cheese, bodies that don't produce babies whenever we decide we want them too (but have sisters and friends that seem to be able to schedule their pregnancies w/ alarming accuarcy)...the list goes on and on...

:-)

Carrie Ann said...

After enduring years of rumors and sideways glances at the glamorous, traveling, woman of leisure that I am (and you KNOW I am), I now relish the opportunity for someone to ask me why we don't have kids...if I like the person I give them the old "while I may look as fertile as the Tennessee valley, my womb is a rocky place where Todd's seed can find no purchase"...if I don't like the person I just say "I'm barren".

Bek said...

Carrie,

I am so glad that Raising Arizona gives ladies like us the perfect line. :-) Good one.

Azúcar said...
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Azúcar said...
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Azúcar said...

My favorite answer was "Joe shoots blanks." (Said before finding that my rocky place is the real reason.)

My other favorites were the gold standard "I'm barren" or "We've been trying for years, thanks for bringing it up" and the ever popular "We're waiting for peace in the Holy Land."