On Opinions

Dear Annie,
Okay, we are at Week 39 now. I’m officially on maternity leave, and the baby is due in a week or so. This will probably (possibly, hopefully) be my last post as a pregnant lady. I actually wanted to talk about something else, but it seemed like my last real opportunity to post about the pregnancy. I won’t say I’m sick of being pregnant, but I will say it has gotten incrementally less comfortable, and I’m ready to be done with it.

Maybe it’s fairer to say I’m ready to be done talking to people about it? I have spent most of the pregnancy, even these last days, honestly, feeling pretty great. But I have encountered a great number of people with a great number of opinions. MOST of them, I refer to as the Just Waiters. (The best group of people to talk to when you’re pregnant, it seems worth mentioning, are people whose children are grown. These are the people who glow with excitement and talk about how magical your life is about to become. This seems worth holding onto as a new mom. This seems ACTUALLY USEFUL.)

The Just Waiters do not care if pregnancy is going well or not, they need to remind you NOT TO LIVE IN THE MOMENT. If you are four months and feeling baby kicks, just wait, later you’ll see an actual foot — A FOOT! — slide across your belly. OR, just wait! Soon enough you won’t be able to tie your own shoes — YOUR OWN SHOES! If you are feeling crummy or tired, JUST WAIT! YOU WILL NEVER SLEEP AGAIN.

The people who tell me to “sleep while [I] can” are the worst. Here’s my sleep pattern last night: Fell asleep from 11:30-12:45am. Watched TV from 12:45-2:30am. Fell asleep until 4. Woke up, checked facebook (by the way, you guys need to be doing A LOT MORE on facebook in the middle of the night), walked around my apartment to loosen my hips up, watched for cars (two drove by), read a book. Fell asleep from 6-9am. Listen, I AM NOT COMPLAINING. I don’t mind it. It’s neat to be up at odd hours. But does it seem fair and right to tell someone with that sleep pattern to sleep while she can, because soon enough SHE’LL NEVER SLEEP AGAIN?

Furthermore — and I may regret saying this later — babies SLEEP. So can’t I sleep while the baby sleeps? I am quite adept at napping. (You want to do over/under odds on how soon into being a new mom I post about how I haven’t slept since the baby was born and you can, for your response, just link to this?)

But then! Last week, I went to a liquor store to buy liquor for a work event — I did not drink any of the liquor, thank you very much — and the clerk, pretty ballsy, I thought, made some comment about how I couldn’t drink any of my purchase. (Similarly, the waitress at Zola the other day chastised me for ordering a COFFEE, not decaf.) He mentioned that his girlfriend was four months along, and that she was constantly complaining about how uncomfortable she is, and how hard it is to go up stairs, and it took everything I had, Annie — everything — not to say OMG AT FOUR MONTHS? THAT’S THE EASY PART! JUST WAIT UNTIL SHE IS NINE MONTHS, GOOD LUCK, BUDDY, YOU’VE GOT A REAL PIECE OF WORK THERE!

AT ANY RATE, I have decided to try harder to just be excited for everyone, whatever they’ve got going on, just in general. That’s what people really want to hear anyway.

In your last post, you mentioned that you are “less inclined toward the polite pretenses that pepper a life spent servicing and socializing.” What are the Most Annoying things people say to single girls?

Love,
Amy

Dear Amy,

People need to SHUT UP!  You are carrying an alien around in your belly and you DESERVE a cup of real, delicious, caffeinated coffee.  In fact, the next time someone feels the need to chastise you for whatever you as a pregnant lady are eating, drinking or purchasing, you should respond with “Oh. OH. You haven’t read the most recent study, HAVE you.”  And then stare at them pityingly.  And then cram an entire sushi roll into your mouth.

And yeah, I never understood the sleeping thing either.  I thought babies slept like, A LOT.  Like more than regular humans.  Can’t you just nap together?  I mean I understand that if you’re a working mom and trying to keep a 9 to 5 or something, but if you’re just home all day?  DUDE.  Sleep whenEV.

The most annoying things people say to single girls, hmm?  Well, I’m sure you remember some of this from back in your single days: it’s not so much specific things that are said, it’s the assumptions that are made.  Instead of the Just Waiters there are the Well That’s Okays.

“Are you seeing anyone?”  
“Not at the moment.”
“Oh.  Well.   That’s OKAY.”
I KNOW IT’S OKAY
“There’s still plenty of time”
OMG PLENTY OF TIME TO WHAT I’M NOT DYING OR ANYTHING
“It must be nice to have so much free time.”
YES I AM WHITTLING DOWN MY NETFLIX QUEUE QUITE RAPIDLY THANK YOU FOR MENTIONING IT

Obviously, to many, the traditional expectation is that such a single lady as I should be (or should long ago have been) getting married and making of the babies, but I think I’m fortunate to live in a time and place where the traditional expectation is less…well, expected.  I don’t feel particularly pressured.  This may be (probably definitely is) because I’ve cut or lengthened ties to anyone who has ever tried to make me feel like my anti-child/ehh-marriage stance is anything but appropriate and awesome.  Also my parents are very understanding, and while they may secretly SEETHE inside at my reluctance to provide them with grandchildren they are very good about not showing it, or putting me on the spot at large holiday dinners.

And though it may not need saying here in the vast redundancy of the internet, I’ll say it anyway: happiness comes in all shades and sizes, and it is no one else’s place to be annoying and tell you differently.  Being judgemental doesn’t help anybody, and I say this as a one who has often pronounced sentence on those who had babies when I didn’t think they should, or got married when I didn’t think they should, or bought a motorcycle when I thought they should probably pay rent instead, or got a fifth dog when they should have gotten divorced.

Anyway, these final days are exciting for me as well.  I can’t wait to meet the little wonder who resides in your belly and start having uninformed opinions about how you should raise her.

Love,
Annie

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8 thoughts on “On Opinions

  1. palmerton says:

    Posted late, so the baby is actually due ANY TIME NOW.

  2. Maria says:

    I love you both and will miss your many prefaced complaints, all of which were appropriate and completely understandable.

    Yesterday I was talking to this kid at the Rust Belt. She’s 10 maybe (I am a terrible judger of kid age). At one point I said the word “shitty”, like, right to her face. I immediately blushed and apologized to her and she said, “Oh, it’s cool. I’ve heard it before.”

    Then I realized I had forgotten I was talking to a kid. She is unusually cool as far as kids go and converses with the jaded grace of my own generation. Except for the self-censoring, it was one of the most natural conversations I’ve had in ages. She didn’t ask me about my fucked-up love life because SHE DOESN’T CARE. And even if she had, and I had told her, she’s too young to give me any fish-in-the-sea bullshit. She just wanted to pet my dog and talk about snacks.

  3. Amber says:

    Some things: 1) my kids are 7, 9, and 12. There has never been a time when I haven’t felt that the most wonderful thing in the world was about to happen to someone who is pregnant 🙂 I think parents who don’t feel that way either aren’t doing it right or shouldn’t have had kids. Which brings me to…

    2) Not everyone would be a happy parent. I applaud those with the self-awareness to know they’re in the unhappy-as-a-parent category and have the courage to buck expectations and act on that knowledge. After all, having a baby is only the most wonderful thing to happen to you if you WANT to have a baby 😉 Either path in life is completely valid and each has its own pros and cons.

    3) Babies do sleep a lot…in intervals. They eat constantly. The first week they sleep more than eat, so you get to recuperate somewhat. After that, you have to wake up every 2-3 hours to feed them. This is what makes most moms feel like they never sleep: it’s difficult to get solid sleep. And when the baby DOES sleep, you always feel compelled to relish the alone/quiet time and be productive in some way (even if it’s just indulging in a hobby) rather than sleep. Oh yeah, and it’s hard to sleep when they do (especially with your first) because you’re totally convinced they will stop breathing the moment you become unconscious. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s happened to every mom I know 🙂 But yeah, I’d say I was worse off for sleeping during my third trimester than I was during infancy for each one. Breastfeeding helps a lot with this. It’s way easier to roll over and stick a boob in a mouth than it is to get up and function enough to prepare and give a bottle. With breastfeeding, I wouldn’t even have to fully wake up to feed the baby. It helped overall rest levels a lot. Two of my experiences were weird, though: they both had tiny sinuses and enlarged adenoids resulting in sleep apnea. My first could only sleep if I held him upright – that one resulted in some serious sleep deprivation. My third had night terrors. My advice there is to talk to other parents a lot. If it seems like something unusual is happening, don’t be afraid to question it. With my first, it was forever before he was diagnosed because I thought I just had a baby who didn’t sleep through the night “yet” and didn’t want to be a complainer. That was stupid of me. But eventually, those little buggers become all self-sufficient and you get as much sleep as you want, and that day comes much too quickly. The years fly by, so relish all of it 😉

    4) I ate sushi, caffeine, and lunch meat while pregnant. Nobody died.

    5) Last thing: when being a parent is something you want to do, there is nothing better. My kids are the greatest part of my life. I think they’ve done more for me than I can ever do for them, though I’ll certainly try. Even on the days where I’d swear they’re getting paid to drive me insane, I look at them and feel like my heart will explode with all the love in it. It’s a kind of love that I haven’t experienced for anything or anyone else. I love the way their minds work, love hearing their opinions and thoughts and plans, love discovering their fascinating personalities. So, no, don’t wait 🙂 Every moment is one to be reveled in. Each stage has its challenges (including pregnancy), but each one also has the moments you’ll one day feel nostalgia for. I feel sorry for the people who miss out because they’re too busy anticipating the next negative. There’s way too much positive to worry about the negative.

    Congratulations, Amy, even though I don’t know you 🙂 I’m glad you’ve already learned to tune out the pessimists.

  4. Mariah says:

    Amy, I’m sure that you totally realized that HAD you said “OMG AT FOUR MONTHS? THAT’S THE EASY PART! JUST WAIT UNTIL SHE IS NINE MONTHS, GOOD LUCK, BUDDY, YOU’VE GOT A REAL PIECE OF WORK THERE!” you would have just been another version of a Just Waiter!

    But since you are DONE with the labor and delivery part, and your lil’ babe looks adorable, and I’m sure you’re exhausted, the only additional thing I’ll say is that I am SUPER excited for you & Jason and sending you major psychic love (because hopefully you are NOT checking The Facebook.com or The Blog right now. ❤

  5. AmyW says:

    I’ve seen a small portion of these Just Waiters whilst out and about with you, Amy, and it’s always amazed me how NEGATIVE people seem about pregnancy/babies. Aren’t they good things? Exhausting, challenging, but good? It always seemed odd and sad to me how many people were basically saying the equivalent of “You think your life sucks now?? JUST WAIT until your life sucks EVEN MORE,” instead of anything like “JUST WAIT until you have a cute little nugget who takes incredible joy JUST IN THE VERY FACT OF BEING ALIVE.” (Which seems to be one of the main draws of being around a baby).

    In any case. I think you dealt with them all very graciously.

    (Also, thought: isn’t JUST WAITing the only thing a pregnant lady can really DO? As we’ve discussed, babies got their own timeline.)

  6. AmyW says:

    Also, Annie, your “Well That’s Okay”-ers cracked me up (I have this really annoying habit of not reading all the way through a blog post before commenting). It’s pretty similar to the experience of someone just out of college without real plans.

    “Do you know what you are going to do now that you’ve graduated?”

    “Nope, not really, other than try to contain a rising flood of panic and fear of my own mortality!”

    “Well, that’s okay.”

    “OKAY???? I DO NOT UNDERSTAND THIS WORD.”

    (Alright alright, being single is less apocalyptic than that. Most of the time.)

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