Last night some ladies from church came over to visit me. They knocked on the door, I opened it and invited them in. As they entered, one of them looked at my tummy and said, “Your tummy is big!”
Then she poked it. She poked my tummy.
And I thought, you did not just poke my tummy.
When she poked me/Baby, I did tilt my tummy back just a little to reestablish space so that she wouldn’t be touching me anymore.
Now, she doesn’t know how I feel about this odd social … custom? breach? She doesn’t know that I prefer people to ask first and not just react to seeing my tummy and reflexively touch it. And she may have come from a family or culture that’s very touchy when it comes to strangers or people who aren’t very emotionally close, so I didn’t say anything. I grew up in the South where people hug each other all the time, sometimes for no reason. Whenever my husband meets my friends for the first time down there they always give him a hug. I would expect nothing less. So I can definitely appreciate friendly affection.
My irritation was brief also because I could see how excited this lady was. I didn’t slap her hand away. I didn’t take her next door to say hi and touch the non-pregnant neighbor’s tummy. I let it go because in the grand scheme of things she is very nice and we go to church together and she does want to be my friend.
The three of us had a rather pleasant visit. We covered a variety of subjects, and the same lady who poked my tummy asked how many kids I wanted.
I thought for a few seconds before saying, “Two.”
She replied, “Oh, that’s not enough! You should have more.”
Then I thought, this half-hour is such an interesting experience.
It’s interesting not because it’s uncommon. People touch other people’s pregnant tummies all the time. Sometimes in the culture of the Church people equate number of children with status or accomplishment. Or something else entirely. Maybe I should have asked this lady what it means for her to have a lot of children. (She wants to have eight. The three of us are all relative newlyweds.) Perhaps it means completely different things to us, which is totally okay. I respect that.
I wish I would have felt a similar respect towards me, though. But I get that’s not a realistic thing to expect from someone if she doesn’t know what the expectation is, much less how to meet it. So I have to be better at expressing my feelings/setting limits/establishing expectations in addition to being more understanding. I can always be better.
I have the strangest feeling that this can apply especially to motherhood.