It’s quite often that people at work are surprised when they realize I suddenly have a baby bump. Not the coworkers I see every day, but the customers, vendors and sales people that stop by on occasion. There are some who still have yet to notice (although I feel like I’ve grown leaps and bounds in the last week!), some who have congratulated me with the usual sentiments…and then there was the customer last week.
He’s a gentleman I know mostly in passing, but who places regular orders with us. Every now and then I take his order myself, or sometimes I’m there when he picks it up, but mostly I don’t see him when he’s in the store, so it’s been some time since we last talked. Last week, he came in to place and order, so I came out from behind the counter to say hi. As soon as he saw my belly: “Uh oh.”
It wasn’t a “congratulations,” or a “oh, wow, it’s been a while,” or a “when are you due?” It wasn’t even a surprised or a happy “uh oh,” although I’m still trying to figure out what that would sound like. It was nothing other than a foreboding “uh oh.” As if, my pregnancy was a bad thing, or even an “oops.” Sorry, dude, but there was nothing “oops” about this pregnancy and, yes, I’m thrilled, but not that you asked.
Why do strangers feel the need to comment, question, or project their feelings on others, especially pregnant women or women with children? We’ve all been on the receiving end of unsolicited parenting advice, or perhaps been weirded out by someone touching our pregnant bellies without asking. Why does pregnancy and parenting open us up to scrutiny and invite comment? It’s enough to drive a momma crazy and question her parenting skills (unless you’re on board with our Campaign for Judgement-free Motherhood!). My situation, although awkward and annoying, is something I can easily brush off and forget. If you’ve seen this recent submission to the Huffington post, however, you see how unwarranted and downright frightening these exchanges with complete strangers can get.
I’m not sure I have any advice or solution to what happened during that interaction with my customer, or for the poor mom in the blog post who now finds herself second-guessing her own reaction to what happened to her and her son, and certainly second-guessing her faith in humanity. Situations like these have me saying “uh oh,” too.