Okay. The truth is that most people have only the best of intentions when they open their mouths. Well…I think it’s relatively safe to assume that their intention is not to piss me off. Usually. Sometimes I have to wonder. But it’s just so easy to do. Especially with all the progesterone and estrogen coursing through my veins. Sometimes I feel like an underweight model with a trucker-sized dose of crank pumping through her system. Or…Dr. Bruce Banner when he turns green and smashes things. I’m always so nice to people, even when my internal monologue sounds like Whitney Cummings on the stupid behaviors of men. Which, by the way, is always. The same as the amount of time she right. And adorable.
<aside>I have a lady crush on Whitney Cummings</aside>
Anyway, I said to my husband the other day that, unlike my best friend, who is cute and friendly and so freakishly not ambivalent about being a mommy, I don’t seem to have a problem with strangers wanting to touch my belly. Which I appreciate. Please understand that I take great pleasure in the fact that I’m just scary-looking enough to discourage socially inappropriate invasions of my personal space bubble. I’m glad I have an invisible force field around me. Felt-but-not-seen social cues that seem to shout to others that “if you touch this woman you will burst into flames just before she opens her Leviathan mouth full of broken glass teeth and bites your head off like a flaming marshmallow on the end of a twig on a sweet, cool summer night.” I like that people tend to want to keep a distance.
But it seems that the less comfortable people feel physically invading my bubble, the more compelled they feel to say things that reveal their disturbing lack of empathy. Such as:
You’re having twins? OH MY GOD! You are soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo lucky!
Okay, Corky. Settle down. Quit jumping and I’ll give you a biscuit. First of all, I’m really glad that you’re so excited. Have we met? Because you seem really…inordinately…unabashedly…excited about the alien symbiotes currently attached to my uterus. I generally don’t get that overwhelmed at the number of fetuses inside the person standing next to me beside the frozen pizzas. So…since it means that much to you, here’s an invitation to the baby shower. Where everyone who is invited is being socially pressured to bring a gift. I’m registered at Amazon for the shit I can’t afford. Otherwise, just bring diapers. Because two babies means two digestive tracts means lots and lots of poop. That’s what I hear when I hear “twins”. Poop. Just, you know, double the poop. And screaming. So…earmuffs…also appropriate. If, you know, you’re giving them to me on top of a Sam’s Club sized box of diapers. Nice to meet you!
Do you know what they are?
It’s most likely that they’re humans. I mean, there was that one crazy night just before my wedding where I got caught up in some drunken debauchery with the local werewolf population but, you know, I’m pretty sure they’re human. I mean, I haven’t had any heartburn, really, so I don’t think they’re extra hairy or anything. Plus I’m not sure about the mechanics of inter-species breeding, but I’m pretty sure that can’t happen. Except in Twilight.
Wouldn’t it be so great to have two girls?
Ummm…why is everyone obsessed with girls? I mean, which conversation would you rather have with your twin teenagers? The conversation where your daughter tells you she’s pregnant or the conversation where your son tells you he got your pickup truck stuck in a mud hole and now it won’t run without belching black smoke? I mean, I know I’m idealizing here, but really. Doesn’t having a boy seem so much easier? Have you ever met a teenage girl? I’m not even sure that my house is structurally sound enough to contain the toxic cloud of emotional energy that three women, two of whom will be under the age of twenty, are capable of creating.
They’re going to be best friends for life!
Holy shit, Miss Cleo. Take it easy. Hows about we go ahead and let them decide what their lives are going to be like without assuming that just because they shared a uterus for a few months they’re automatically required to be besties. What is this pathological belief that everyone seems to have that twins are supposed to be abnormally obsessed with one another. They’ve already had to share a uterus, so let’s let them be individuals when they finally get out here, okay?
They’re going to do EVERYTHING together!
Uh. Yeah. Or, you know, maybe they’ll develop healthy individual personalities and decide they’d like to live as separate people rather than psychologically-conjoined twins. That’d be okay, too. Like, maybe one will want to be in the band and the other will want to smoke Camels behind the bleachers. That’s cool. Maybe, you know, they’ll want to grow up and date separate people and have separate lives and not be shoved so far up one another’s ass that they can’t interact with the world except as one half of a really, intensely weird couple. I’d be okay with that, too. And, just to play devil’s advocate, let’s think of some things that everyone who is human does that we would hope they don’t do with their sister or brother…Hmmm…I certainly hope they don’t insist on finding a double stall in the bathroom so that they can poop together. It’d be great if they developed healthy and separate masturbatory lives. Probably I’d prefer them to pursue separate sex partners, too. Just saying. Catching pneumonia will be more easily dealt with if it’s one at a time. Being a whole person, too, is generally easier without your wombmate attached to your hip. So…there are benefits to individuating.
You’re going to have separate cribs? That’s not healthy for them.
Really? You raised twins who slept in separate cribs and grew up to be serial killers? Let’s hop on over to Starbucks and you can tell me all about how to appropriately parent my children, oh sage of organic flour (can you tell I get most of my comments in the grocery store?)! Did you get your PhD in psychology from the dreadlocked white man over there sampling the yogurt made from the milk of the white buffalo?
You know, there are just so many twin experts out there who are not parents of twins and are not even twins themselves. It’s truly amazing how a person of one demographic can be so incredibly educated about the complex and intricate interpersonal relationships between people of another demographic without ever having had any close, personal experiences with them. Tell me, how much would you charge to just come to my house and tell me all of the ways that my promoting individuality for my kids is damaging them psychologically? I’m sure it’d be fairly affordable. Compared to, you know, paying someone with a degree in Developmental Psychology for their advice. After all, who needs all that fancy book-learnin’ anyway, when you’ve clearly mastered the subject by watching Montel Williams and The Today Show.
Twins? But your belly is so small to have two in there!
Okay. I’m willing to give this one some leniency. Most people think that by telling a woman she looks small, they are paying her a compliment. Normally, this is true. But the fact is that, for women who were slightly big to start with, the excitement of having a discernible bump as opposed to, say, just looking like we have the world’s biggest muffin top, can be pretty delayed. For instance, people didn’t start asking me out loud, in public, when I was due until I was seven months pregnant. A skinny girl carrying twins would have been obviously pregnant much sooner than me, and her bump is likely to be much larger simply due to the fact that there is less of her. Please understand that I have been hearing my whole life about how my body did not meet social expectations. The fact that I’m “small” right now is just another way of saying that I’m not what you think I should be. Which, apparently, is front heavy and walking like a sneetch.
Are they natural?
Are you a Nazi? What kind of a question is that? I know it’s just one of those things that rolls out of people’s mouths without a lot of forethought, but seriously. Just stop and think about the phrasing for a moment. Are they natural? Well, they’re not synthetic. They’re not fucking polyester. <aside>Would it be wrong to name twin girls Polly and Esther just for the fun of seeing who got it?,</aside> Furthermore, by asking whether they’re natural, you’re implying all sorts of things about fertility treatment. Chiefly, that I had it. And you’re expecting a response, which means that you feel somehow entitled to knowing whether or not my body was capable of producing children without medical intervention. You want to know about my reproductive health. I’m really not trying to be a prude here but, um, fuck off! Whether I had fertility treatment or not is (A) none of your business and (B) irrelevant to the legitimacy of my pregnancy, not to mention that of the infants that it will eventually produce.
Better you than me!
You know what, given the trajectory of our conversation thus far, I think you’re absolutely right on that one. 😉
How are you going to afford it?
I don’t know, but thanks for reminding me of the fact that we are financially, uh, what’s the word? Oh, yes…fucked. Would you like a link to send a gift to my Paypal account?
Are you going to breast feed? Won’t it be hard with two?
Okay, clearly you’re some kind of pervert or voyeur or something because you’re showing just way too much interest in what’s been in my uterus and what may or may not be coming out of my nipples. Please back off. You are giving me weird vibes. If you see a mother with a single child around, say, the age of three in her shopping cart would you stop her and ask whether she breast fed that child? You probably would because you’re clearly some kind of grocery shop creeper. Seriously? I feel violated just due to the content of our brief conversation. And as far as the difficulty of breast feeding two babies, I’m sure you’re the type of person who, when asked by a child why god gave women two breasts, would argue that it’s so that she can nurse two babies whilst knitting a sweater with her toes and thinking hard about ways to make her husband feel even more superior. That tight-ass bun on top of your head and your flesh-colored shoes say it all, lady.
Now, I realize that I’m being a little Angela here. I really don’t care if other people want to talk about lactating all day long, every day, just meandering through the aisles talking about their colostrum and the color of the nipples. That’s fine. I’m totally on board for you being allowed to do that. Go forth, and discuss your milky breasts. But I come from a strict German family where the topics of what enters or leaves our bodies was strictly off limits. It makes me uncomfortable, discussing things like this with my own mother. Let alone you, who are a stranger. Rest assured that my children will receive all of the nutrients they need from some source or another. You need not check up on them. If they are malnourished I’m sure that a doctor will let me know. But as to revealing the source…no. Just no.
Was it planned?
You have got to be kidding me. In what universe are these questions appropriate ever? In what universe does the fact that I’m pregnant give you some kind of social hall pass to just dig around in my personal life like a gopher in my fucking flower beds? Know what my husband does with gophers who fuck with my flowers? I’ll bet you can guess. Now, there are two ways I can answer this question, and I can tell you that there four responses that my answers will get me. Because all these people have are responses. Nothing ever seems to shut them up.
1. “Yes, it was planned.”
The first response to this will be a sigh of relief, usually accompanied by a tossing back of the head, a hand placed stolidly over the heart, or some other outward sign of exasperated approval. At least, these people will assure me, I’m prepared for it. Um…I know you’ve never taken a Philosophy class but really? Planning to have children necessarily prepares one for their arrival? I know that in another nine months it’s going to be snowing outside and cold as a witch’s tit. Does that make me immune to the shock of walking outside into it? Yeah. No.
The other response is a disapproving shake of the head and the admonition that, “I don’t understand why anyone would want to bring a child into a world where children are starving in Africa/the Middle East is in such an uproar/we have a black president, hyuk hyuk hyuk.” Do I really need to waste a paragraph even dignifying these people with my response or will a cyber WTF face do? =/
For the love of all that is holy, don’t ever tell anyone – particularly an American rural woman over the age of forty – that you’re pregnant unexpectedly without planning to spend at least a half hour listening to her insist that you are irresponsible and deserve to starve in the street with your illegitimate litter. They love the phrase, “all it takes is a little pill every day.” Unless they’ve signed up as abstinence evangelists with their tight-ass pastors. In that case you may as well just hand over your human dignity before they even get started and save yourself the discomfort of standing there listening to their hateful tirade as your ankles swell to hocks.
The other response is a pitying nod. “Well, you’ll make the best of it.” Yes. Although I can’t seem to drag myself out of the pit of despair into which this pregnancy has thrown me, I will martyr myself for my children and I’ll muddle through somehow, until I finally send them out into the world and insist in nasty and persistent phone calls that they “do better than I did.” When’s the last time your kid came home from college to visit, Mother Theresa?
You’re going to have your hands full/You’re never going to get any sleep.
You’re right. I am/I’m not. Would you like to accompany me to the checkout, where you can peer over my shoulder at the balance of my checkbook and make obvious and discouraging comments about how I’m probably going to wind up living in a box behind the grocery store before it’s all over with?
Who in your family had twins?
See, people love asking this because everyone has heard somewhere that twins tend to be genetic but they can never remember on which side of the family they tend to run or exactly how the whole thing works. But they think it makes them look smart, asking it like this, because then I have to assume that they know something about genetics. What they don’t realize is that (A) everyone knows that twins are genetic, just like you, and (B) also just like you, no one actually knows anything about how genetics works. What people also don’t know about is my family history. I have one great aunt on my mother’s side who had triplets and all three of them died. Now, I didn’t know any of the triplets and I didn’t even know this aunt that well, so I don’t feel particularly close to them or their tragic story. There are also twins on my father’s side that go back a lot of generations. Know what used to happen to twins and other higher order multiples back in the day? They died. A lot. So when people start pressing not just for my own reproductive medical information, but for that of my distant relatives, I just start talking about how Great Aunt Wilma (not really her name) had triplets that died or how Grand Dame Judy Blatch dropped a litter on the side of the road in Jersey City as soon as they stepped off the boat and that one of them is the real Jersey Devil and how the other eight had facial deformities and wound up in a side show. This usually sends the snoopy stranger on an apparently very crucial quest for whatever is located at the opposite corner of the store.
There is always, always an Octomom comment. First of all, I am not, nor have I ever, attempted to look, or wanted to do anything resembling attempting to look, like
Skeletor Angelina Jolie. Secondly, I am having two. I am not having eight to add to the six that I already can’t afford. Actually, after I deliver these two, I’ve got a little two for one deal going on where I’m getting my tubes tied the moment they vacate my abdomen so that I never, ever become like Octomom. However, were I to find myself with eight little fetuses instead of two, would you be the type of uninformed twat who would condemn me for having six or seven of them selectively terminated? Because the Octomom had that option and chose not to. See, she did what she did, at least in part, because she bought into the twisted black-and-white inflexible thinking that abortion is always wrong no matter what, in every circumstance. So before you go judging her for what she did, make sure you’re not judging her for what she didn’t do at the same time.
And you just lost all that weight! =(
This generally comes from people who know me and are aware of the fact that I lost nearly one hundred pounds over the past two years or so. I just ignore them. They are people I speak to regularly, so they have passed the imbecile test. Passing said test does not necessarily mean that they don’t say and do imbecilic things every now and then. It just means that I find enough value in them as people that I am willing to overlook their occasional imbecilic behavior and comments. It’s so much fun, though, to not say anything and watch them backpedal frantically, trying to let me know that they don’t think I’m fat and that they’d love me even if I were fat.
You should get a reality show.
First of all, it is my fervent belief that no one should get a reality show. Ever. For any reason whatsoever. No one’s life is that interesting. But if anyone’s were, it would be Octomom. Not me.
Okay. My back is hurting and I’m pretty sure that Juniper is kneeing me in the ribs because I’m working past lunch time. There are more comments. There are always more comments. But these are some of the most common and the first to come to mind, so I’m sharing them. And now I’m going to feed.