Now that I have a kid, I'm realizing it's an even better thing that I’m a child of the '90s than I previously thought. It turns out, all the sitcoms I watched prepared me for what would turn out to be a very pressing need to be patient as an mom, with their cracker-jack portrayals of kids acting zany, dads watching football, and the requirement to have an entire wardrobes made of khaki pants and pastel button-down tops (OK, maybe I could stand to ignore that part of '90s sitcom-instilled mom persona). However, since khakis do me no favors, I’ve decided to compensate by trying to have even more patience with my kid.
Luckily for me, and for anyone else looking to exercise their "patience muscle" (umm, no, your face isn't a "real thing, Dena"), pregnancy is a great warm-up. Not only are we forced to manage its physical and emotional side effects, but we are also required to still be functioning members of society while we do it. I mean, it wouldn’t have been all that bad if I could have been given a free pass to wear slippers and my partner’s sweatpants everywhere, but sadly, I didn’t really have that option. And the interactions strangers feel compelled to initiate? What other times in our life will we answer plans about what we plan to do with our breasts in a few months time? Wait, don’t answer that; I don't know your life and I don't want to. The point is, pregnancy requires us to master the complicated dance of politeness and privacy when we’re not inclined to really share how it’s going. Here are a few examples of how that actually plays out:
When Asked How You're Feeling
What You Say: "I feel good!"
What You Mean: "I've never been more uncomfortable in my entire life. Have you ever run a marathon in a desert after spending the day walking around a theme park in the sun without sufficient water or snacks, in shoes that are too small, while you have the flu? Kind of like that."
When Asked About Your Baby’s Name
What You Say: "We have a name, but we're not sharing it."
What You Mean: "…with you."
When Someone Jokes About How Tired You Must Be
What You Say: *polite laughter* "Yes, that's so clever! Also, let me guess: I'll sleep again in 18 years? You're a hoot, my friend!"
What You Mean: "This is the most unfunny thing I've ever heard. There is nothing less funny than this joke. Even if someone told me that Hamilton would never, ever go on tour, or that I can no longer drink coffee for fear of a brutal death, I would still hate all of that a little less than I hate this terrible joke."
When Told A Horrible Story About Someone Else’s Pregnancy And/Or Delivery
What You Say: "Oh, that's too bad. I'm glad everything turned out OK."
What You Mean: "Seriously, why are you telling me this? This is one of the top five worst things in the world to tell me right now. This is right up there with saying that Chris Pratt is retiring from acting or that french fries are getting abolished or that Target is going to stop carrying maternity wear. There is no reason in the world you should tell me this story except for wanting to bring a cloud of doom into my day."
When Asked If You’re Nervous
What You Say: "I'm just a teeny, tiny bit scared about labor, but I'll be OK."
What You Mean: "YES I AM NERVOUS DEAR GOD DO YOU KNOW WHAT I HAVE TO DO?! For the entire duration of my pregnancy, I've had the scene from Look Who's Talking with Kirstie Alley screaming about lemons and watermelons. My body is going to basically turn itself inside out. I spend every day just trying not to think about it. Wait, why are you bringing it up? Do you have any tips for how to deal? No? Then let's end this conversation so I can go hide in a corner and weep or watch The Business Of Being Born again because honestly watching Ricki Lake give birth at home is encouraging to me AND I DON'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT."
When Asked If You Were Trying To Get Pregnant
What You Say: *wide-eyed stare before promptly changing the subject*
What You Mean: "You'll forgive me for not answering, right? Because this is just another way of asking what my motivations are for sleeping with my partner and, not that I don't want to discuss them with you, random stranger, but...well, no, it totally is that I don't want to discuss them with you. How about we talk about religion and politics and the wage gap instead? You know, some light, fluffy fare. Maybe the inner workings of my family planning aren't really something that needs to be dragged out right now."
When Someone Talks About A Crucial Bit Of Baby Gear You’ve Never Heard Of
What You Say: "Oh yeah, I've totally heard of that and I have three of them on my registry."
What You Mean: "OMG, am I supposed to know what that is? I've never heard of it. Is it a sleep thing? A breastfeeding thing? A safety thing? I'm going to be the worst mom ever; my baby is going to be in constant danger. We are going to need to turn our entire house into a foam pit because there is no other way I will be able to manage."
When The Person Who Is Generously Planning Your Baby Shower Hints At What’s To Come
What You Say: "I LOVE games where we pretend that perfectly good candy bars are poop!"
What You Mean: "Please don't make me do that. I really want to look back on my baby shower and not have to picture my favorite people putting their noses in diapers. Really, I'll do anything. I will give up Netflix. I will give up coffee. I will give up cheese (even the good cheese that I won't get to eat again until this baby is out). But please, don't make us do that."
When Someone Comments On How Huge You Are (Or Aren't)
What You Say: "Well, my doctor says I'm doing fine, and the baby and I are perfectly healthy, so that's good enough for me!"
What You Mean: "I'm in such shock that you even said that I'm not sure if I'm even making sense. Did that last thing even come out properly? Was it just a mish-mash of words? Fine doctor, umbrella dog, orange magic cup? I have forgotten how to make words happen because I'm in such frozen disbelief that you don't realize what a horribly shame-y, awful, rude thing that is to say. My body is not somehow a more acceptable receptacle for your commentary now that there's a tiny human growing inside of it. In fact, it's even less of an acceptable receptacle for that right now because I'm already overly stressed about how well my body is or is not performing at this important task, so...thanks for adding your ~super professional opinion~ to the mix."
When Someone Offers You Food
What You Say: "Why, thank you! Cheeseburgers are my favorite. How thoughtful of you to offer."
What You Mean: "If I can't take a bite in the next 12 seconds, I am going to attack you like a jungle cat. Seriously, like, if you took the light of the sun and combined it with the ocean tides and added every grain of sand in the world, then that would be how hungry I am. So please, just hand me the burger and we'll never speak of this moment again."
When Someone Says Any Strong, Immovable, Self-Righteous Opinion About Medicated Vs. Unmedicated Births
What You Say: "We're talking about that with our doctor, thanks for your concern."
What You Mean: "And thus concludes our friendship."