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.
One thought on “Space to Grow”
I never liked people rubbing my stomach whether I knew them or not so I completely feel you on that one! For a religion that teaches acceptance, tolerance, compassion, understanding and a myriad of other good qualities and characteristics, I usually find the subject of children throws all of those out the window. I’ve had many conversations where it just seems hard for people to accept that I have a 4 year old and don’t have any immediate plans for another. As if they really have a say in it or are going to be the ones to raise and provide for these children. Sorry but having 8 kids sounds like a nightmare to me, but I can certainly respect if you’re willing to bring 8 children into this world and nurture, provide for and love them. But does the fact that I only want to do that with 1 child make me any less of a mother? Or even any less of a Mormon? Perhaps people just don’t realize the way they sound or the way they come across or don’t fully understand our circumstances or perhaps I just take things a little too personally. But it’s definitely one of my least favorite conversations to have to sit through! I really admire your desire to be more understanding and try to view things from her perspective so you’re not offended. It would certainly be nice if others did the same!