After 2 kids and a third on the way, I get it now.
I’ll never know what it’s like to gain so much weight and body mass in such a short time (although, God only knows I’ve tried on several different ‘Wing Nights’ at a bunch of bars through the years.) And I won’t ever experience the water in my legs, or the fast and furious need for food NOW, or what it feels like to have a small ravenous critter growing fast down in your belly.
The added exhaustion, the endless vomiting, the tossing and turning all night long trying go get comfortable when comfort is crashing a thousand miles away in someone else’s bedroom: I’m never going to truly understand what those things are like for every pregnant mama-to-be.
So, it might be that I’m not even the right person to ask the question, but that hasn’t ever stopped my foolish ass before, so here goes. Now that women in western society are considered man’s equal just about everywhere (except maybe in pro sports) has that changed the way we perceive pregnancy at all?
And should it?
Don’t get all flustered now, my little trolls. I’m not trying to bring any kind of gentle traditions crashing down or anything. As a matter of fact, I like the idea of a society that still wants to show a little ‘respect’ when a pregnant lady walks into a room or enters a subway car. Hell, I’ll take a whiff of humanity wherever I can get it these days, when outbursts of chivalry and genteel behavior are probably less common than school shootings.
No, what I’m wondering is, should we as a society still look at pregnant women through rose-colored glasses, or are we doing them a disservice in the long run by only treating them ‘special’ when they’re visibly hauling around a bambino in their bellies?
Let me break it down a little.
Say you are on a jam-packed city bus with no empty seats available and some new people get on at a corner stop. One of them is a very old lady, one of them is a very old man, one of them is a mother with a little baby, and one of them is a pregnant woman.
Would you give up your seat? And if so, who gets it? And why?
It’s a weird, tough question, I know, but it sets in motion the bigger angle I’m poking around. And that’s whether or not the once magical aura of the pregnant woman is something that is fading away in society. Or more importantly, is it something that should?
Recently, when my pregnant wife and I pulled into a Babies-R-Us store, I noticed that they had special parking spots right up at the front of the lot just for baby bump ladies. The signs were cute and all, with a stork on it; a perfect little nod to the retailers’ bread and butter clientele. I understood this, of course, as soon as I noticed the spots. They were where the Handicapped Parking spots are usually designated, just a pebble’s toss from the front door, and I’m sure there were some of those around too, but I didn’t notice because I was fist-bumping my wife and whooping out loud and free-verse rapping some improv lyrics like:
“ OH YEEEE-AH! WE GOT THE SWEET SPOT! OH HALE YES, WE’RE IN THE FRONT!/SHE’S PREG-NANT/SHE’S PREG-NANT/GET OUT THE WAY NOW/WE’RE IN THE SWEET SPOT!”
You get the idea.
We parked and started to head into the joint in our freshly concocted good mood (marketing genius, actually), when it suddenly dawned on me that maybe this was the best thing that had happened to me so far today, which was immediately followed by the notion that maybe, just maybe, we’d been seriously duped by ‘the man’.
I mean, okay, parking spots for people in wheelchairs and on crutches and stuff are one thing, aren’t they? But special ‘sweet spots’ for perfectly healthy women who just so happen to be carrying a baby in their wombs, was that the same thing?
Was it even close?
Once again then: conundrum. Should we, as men and women in a 21st century world, be making our own efforts to make sure that pregnant women feel ‘looked after’ when they’re out in the streets? Do we owe it to them, and to the next generation growing inside of them, to fly the flag of courtesy and respect when they are in our midst?
Or have we reached a point in time when pregnant women don’t need, or even want, any kind of special treatment? In this modern world, where all sorts of equality remain the constant challenge and the never-ending goal of human society, are we somehow, against our heartfelt best intentions, doing a disservice to pregnant women when we scooch out of a subway seat for them or help them rise up the last few steps of a long stairwell, uninvited and out of the blue?
It is a question seriously worth looking at, people, if only because the times have changed, and the world has changed, and so much of what went down back in, like 1959, is gone forever.
So go ahead. Ponder it. You’ve got like 3 seconds. Tick-tick-tick.
Boom. You’re done.
The only possible answer here is: hell no. Hell no, it isn’t wrong to be treating pregnant women with a a little extra grace and gratitude. How could it be, right?
See, the thing is, we have all become a bit jaded and cynical over the last twenty years or so. In this day and age of cyber savagery and spontaneous insanity, a lot of us have tended to back off the emotional thing a little, especially when we’re out in the streets among strangers and all.
It’s understandable, I guess. Sad, but understandable. We’ve gotten more accustom to trying NOT to smile at a stranger than to let a random grin fly. It’s our new reality. And, quite frankly, it sucks.
The way I see it, these pregnant ladies crossing our paths here and there, unexpectedly, in the candy aisle at Walgreen’s or in the coffee shop down the street or wherever: they represent a heck of a lot more to us than we probably even realize. And lest you suspect I’m about to get mighty pious here, rest assured I am not. I’m not talking about seeing mamas-to-be as some sort of message from God or whomever, because, to be honest, I don’t know the first thing about any of that.
What I do know is that pregnant women are basically waving around a massive front-end loader bucketful of tomorrow in front of our exhausted workday faces. I know that that’s still a baby they have in there and the last time I checked, babies are still our last golden hope for the future.
In addition, no matter what anyone tells you, you can’t, like, frack a baby.
Big business, for all of its epic power, its fat sausage-finger clammy mitts all over the world’s steering wheel, it’s just useless when it comes to creating life, or making more kids.
In a lot of ways, everything we’re counting on just as people walking around on this Earth today, whether we admit it or not, is waiting down in the belly of your local pregnant lady. All of our hopes and dreams, all of our better days. Babies born yesterday, or in a few months from now, they are the ones poised to be our own kid’s sidekicks in the coming days when we are no longer around to help any of them out, or get in their way.
Move your ass then. No matter who you are, no matter what you’ve done right or wrong in this whole pageant so far, give up your seat if you ever get the chance. Truth is, the lady may not even want it.
Just the sound of you offering, though, that’s a sound that will bounce and echo off all those filthy skyscrapers and beautiful mountains for at least 10,000 years.
Image source: Monica Bielanko
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