We just got back from spring break. And, quite honestly, there were so many highlights, there’s no way I could ever recount them all. There was, however, one low-light, if you will. One that has hounded me from the very moment of its unfortunate origin. But before I relay that low-light, won’t you please allow me to plead my case?
I’m an idiot.
Really and truly. Often confused, usually operating under a false set of pretenses, and frequently meaning one thing, but saying something else entirely. Yet what I heard come out of my mouth just two days ago surprised even me. It was particularly dense — even given my lofty (or, depending on how you look at it, subpar) standards.
It all began so innocently. Our oldest child was at the beach with another family from our hometown while Caroline and I were getting lunch with our trio at the beach club. And Caroline looked more beautiful to me than ever as she confidently strutted around in her bathing suit, positioning all of our little ones at their various seats. Years ago, Caroline likely would have gone to great lengths to try to minimize the appearance of her pregnant belly. But that day, she was proudly sporting it, her towel wrapped around her waist, inadvertently exacerbating the bump that housed our fifth child.
I tried to express all of that in the following conversation:
(Cue the dumbass music.)
Me: “Do you ever wonder if some people think you’re pregnant or just a woman with a potbelly?”
Caroline: [wearing a look of genuine shock] “Well, I don’t know. What would you think?”
(Turn that dumbass music up a notch. Maybe two.)
Me: “Well, that you’re pregnant. Probably. Though I might wonder because you’re a bit old to be pregnant.”
Caroline: [look of shock now one of anger] “Honey, you basically just called me a fat, old pregnant woman.”
Okay. Let’s do something I desperately wish that I could have done on Saturday — push the “pause” button on this conversation.
I was actually trying to pay my wife a compliment. I find it incredibly attractive that Caroline is comfortable enough in her skin to waltz around without a care in the world as to how her pregnant belly looks in a bathing suit.
If I were to see her, there’s no question that I would know that she’s with child. It’s clear, folks. That said, if I spied her four kids tagging alongside of her and then noticed that Caroline was no longer in her 20s, I might pause for a moment and give the matter a second thought.
But Caroline doesn’t give a rip about any of that. She doesn’t care whether people wonder if she’s pregnant or just the possessor of a Homer Simpson. And, furthermore, she doesn’t care if the Homer Simpson might get a random vote or two given that she already has four kids and has crossed into her forties.
Now, let me say this: Caroline is beautiful and certainly does not look her age. Which is part of the point I did such a poor job of making. Caroline defies definition. She’s simply who she is.
And who she is to me is a beautiful woman who carries on as gracefully as anyone I’ve ever met despite the constant chaos that surrounds her. Despite the fact that she’s nearly 22 weeks pregnant. Despite the fact she does it all without even so much as an ounce of vanity.
She only knows one way to operate: as herself.
And that’s what I was trying to say. I meant to pay her a compliment. Instead, I inadvertently (and incorrectly) insinuated that some might see her as fat and old.