Parents say the worst things
Comparing notes with a good friend, we discovered that both our dads cannot resist saying things that make us livid.
When we shared the news about Little Bean, one of his few comments (this one directed to PiC) was: if there aren’t any boys in your family yet, then you should have a boy to carry on your family name.
I cannot even describe what my face did in reaction to that blase, utterly dismissive, and completely thoughtless statement.
So, having a son to carry on your name, was that worth it? Having a son who completely disrespected you most of his life, used you, manipulated you and everyone around you, continues to leech off of you in the most mundane and spectacular ways, who continues to be a trial and a misery to everyone – that’s worth telling your daughter who has carried you for eighteen years in all ways but physically hefting you on her back, and the way you smoke let’s not rule that out for our rosy future – that she should bear a son to carry on her husband’s name since she, her identity, her name, her LIFE doesn’t even bear consideration?
All those years he’s been claiming that he valued me just as much as my sibling (oh thanks, that’s nice to have reached such heights), that he appreciates everything I’ve done and sacrificed, and continue to sacrifice for them, but at the first opportunity, he suggests boys are better. Based… on….?
It’s not the first time he’s enraged me but this is one of the first times it’s been so easy to say that I’m furious with him.
This APW post reminded me of that fury all over again.
Mom had this theory: I was a really angry child because she was so angry and stressed during her pregnancy with me. She regretted not being able to breathe past her frustrations with having to deal with a toddler with no help, selfish and the opposite of helpful in-laws, and the stress of living in a new country learning a new language and building a new life.
My theory is that I’m not an idiot and I’ve had a look around me at this world we live in.
But if her theory holds, Little Bean is going to be born a living, breathing ball of incandescent rage-flame. Sorry, kid. But maybe that will turn into the ability to actually throw flame and wouldn’t that be cool?
People say the damnedest things
You know what’s really fun when you’re pregnant? Even if you’ve never met before that very moment, almost like everydamnone has advice because they know best and also you’re an idiot.
It’s a little easier to ignore strangers. Sometimes. But all people who’ve even thought about having a child feel free to expound at length, going on the assumption that I’m not me and therefore would enjoy hearing utter flipping useless speculation.
Of the WTF variety
“You should have a [boy/girl] because [outdated gender notion about why a boy or a girl is better at this time].”
Girls are better because ….
Boys are better because ….
If it’s a [boy/girl], get used to never saying no again.
Of the It’s Science, didn’t you know? variety
“Oh, if you’re having a [boy/girl] then it will feel like [fill in some old wives' tale].”
“How far along are you? [Range of months] will be easy, it’ll get hard at [whatever was hard for them].”
“You’ll have a [boy/girl] because of those symptoms.”
Are you sure it’s a boy/girl? This (points at belly) just LOOKS like a girl/boy.*
Now (no matter when they found out) is the best time of pregnancy. It’ll get hard at Y months.
Of the “Oh you’ll HAVE to…” variety
Once the kid’s older and sees friends doing it, you can’t just have cake, you’ll have to rent out a big (museum, restaurant, something preposterous) and host huge birthday parties! How else will you keep up with the Joneses?**
My wife walked an hour a day, every day during pregnancy. You should too.
When’s the baby shower? Why wouldn’t you have one? This is how you get everything you want FOR FREE.
A special little hell on earth
It’s like every interaction is a fresh opportunity for people to treat my pregnancy like their own personal story time.
* Speaking of stories? A friend of a friend – basically a complete freakin stranger to me – was SO proud of herself for, as she tells it, praying a penis onto her friend’s expected daughter after hearing the results of the ultrasound.
“Dear God, I know you know best but if you could just add a little something to Janey’s daughter, that would be great!”
I wouldn’t have believed it if I wasn’t standing there in utter shock as she proceeded to feel me up, cackling over her success. I could have punched her in the face for touching me if I hadn’t been trying not to add stress to friend’s plate.
I don’t care if LB is a boy or a girl, I care if this child turns into a decent human being. The last time I checked, it’s possible for males AND females to be horrible or wonderful. If YOU couldn’t tell your kids no, that’s your problem, not ours. Little Bean is going to have boundaries from the first day ze can understand them. And that’s not at the age of 16. If you say one more word to me about why boys or girls are better, I swear I’ll …..
And this is just the tip of the iceberg so you’re welcome to imagine how annoyed I get with baby-centric conversation.
Maybe this is their way of relating but seriously?
** This is hard NOW. And not one bloody minute of it has been easy or better than any other minute.
Don’t get me wrong, people sharing their stories as just that, like Leah did here, I’m all for. I love hearing other experiences. But NOT in that completely presumptuous, “you need to X, you should Y, because I know better obviously” kind of way.
It’s the strangest phenomenon that the moment people know you’re pregnant there’s just no chance that, possibly, I might still be a person. My only interest in life must now be the expected child. I have transformed into nothing more than a vessel for Little Bean and there’s no higher favor they can confer but to share the universal knowledge to end all parenting because they had a kid, once.
Of course, the biggest concerns that I have have nothing to do with stretch marks or whether we have a boy or a girl, or anything mundane. There are far greater things, Horatio, the chronic health issues, financial preparation, LIFE! that will and have had a huge impact on the pregnancy and child-rearing experience.
Thankfully, not everyone has showered me with unwanted opinions. Some people are wonderful at offering support while still talking like we’re both humans who have individual experiences, kids or no.
Care to share?