Well, I have known that I’m pregnant with my third child for a long time now. So, my mind has been thoroughly and pretty securely wrapped around the concept for quite some time. I’m ok with it. Comfortable, even. However, I’ve now reached that (dreaded) stage where I am showing to the general populace. Everyone can plainly see that I’m expecting.
So what? You may be thinking. I simply hate being publicly pregnant (no, not because of my Victorian roots causing me to feel some kind of connection with the times when it was improper and indecent for a woman to be out in public while pregnant) but because of peoples’ judgements and looks and raised eyebrows. I guess I should be used to being stared down in public, always being with ruth and joel and one or both of them pretty much always screaming. And that’s exactly my point.
Before I was showing, I was just your average clueless mother, out with her, socially acceptable two child limit, struggling to exist among regular society. That’s perfectly fine. But I had a secret that no one knew. I wasn’t your average mother of two. I was a soon to be mother of three. And I felt kind of like someone with a practical joke waiting for others to walk into my trap so that I could yell “surprise!”
Well, I’ve reached that stage. And it’s no fun. I’ve written before that when you cross that two child threshold, something changes. People, no one in particular, just the general public, start to subtly see you as a bit…selfish? Or irresponsible? You are a breeder, their looks seem to say. Oh, and another little thing that I’ve recently discovered: you had better have your kids under control. I mean, they had better be the best “behaved” kids on the planet, if you’re going to dare to introduce another.
It’s weird. Now, when I’m struggling with my kids who are constantly yelling and fighting and throwing themselves to the floor in fits of passion, where before, people would just avert their eyes and move quickly by, now it seems, they eye my bump, as if to say, “you’re having another one and you can’t even control the ones you’ve got. Thanks lady, for releasing your devil spawn children into the world for all of US to have to deal with.”
Another moment where I understand why my mother was so adamant about our behavior. Why she never let us pick out our own clothes. Why we didn’t have much of a choice in anything we did (food, activities, you name it). Because then you don’t get caught up in public debates with your kids like I do. “Ruth, I brought you peanut butter and jelly for lunch.” Suddenly, she hates it and only wants my sandwich. So I give her a bite. Joel sees this and, like everything else, has to have what his sister has and immediately abandons his sandwich for mine. So, there I sit, in between them, alternating bites of my quickly shrinking sandwich to each of them, to avoid a public outburst. Because then your kids don’t wear mismatched girls pajamas every day (Joel) and constantly have marker on their faces, eliciting looks of pity and confusion from well dressed adults and parents of well dressed kids. Because then your kids know they can’t fight with each other in public, pinching and screaming over something as simple as who’s hand gets to rest on the back of the headrest of the stroller.
Whenever I see big families out, they are always super polite and considerate. And now I know why. They have to be. Because if they’re not, society will not tolerate them. Having two kids that misbehave is fine, is normal. But, have any more, and they’d better friggin’ line their asses up like the Von Traps and respond to whistle call.
Anyways, this is just something I’ve recently begun encountering while out and about with my two loud and free spirited children. The bump makes me a target for criticism. I think I knew it would, which is part of the reason I dreaded starting to show, but at the same time, feeling the disapproval is different from knowing it’s coming. Can anyone else with three or more kids speak to this? I’m just a rookie, here.