What do you do when you are about 59 weeks pregnant and your devoted husband offers to watch the children on a hot Saturday? You go get your pedicure on, of course.
I keep forgetting that venturing out in public with my conspicuously pregnant belly invites a lot of comment. Most of it innocuous, of course, but some questions inevitably lead to the discovery of our lack of moderation when it comes to child bearing. I give you Exhibit A of a conversation I had with a middle aged lady sitting next to me while I was waiting at the crowded nail salon for my turn to get a pedicure.
Lady: When are you due?
Me: May 19.
Lady: Oh, so you’ve got a lot of time left.
(Not striking the proper tone with me already, but I’ll reserve judgment).
Lady: Is this your first?
Me: No, it’s my fourth.
Lady: (Taking some time to gawk at me a bit). Is it a girl or a boy?
Me: My fourth girl!
Lady: Oh no. I’ll bet you were hoping to get that boy finally.
(Ok, she just said one of my biggest pet peeves, but this is my me time, and I’m not letting anything bother me today).
Me: Not really. (Attempting to add some levity to the conversation). I wouldn’t even know what to do with a boy at this point!
I look hopefully toward the salon chairs to see if I am going to get an easy escape from this rapidly disintegrating conversation. No dice. I fiddle with my nail polish bottle nervously.
Lady: (Not to be dissuaded). So this is your last one, right?
Man, this lady is just checking off every pet peeve question on my list.
Me: Well, I don’t know. We’ll see. (Lady gapes at me, and I hope this means she will stop asking impertinent questions. But I get a bit uncomfortable with all the staring, so I make the fatal mistake of offering a bit more explanation).
Me: We’re Catholic.
Lady: Well, I know plenty of Catholics, and none of them have that many children.
Me: (Deciding it would be uncharitable of me to argue, and would make this conversation even more awkward to point out the obvious fact that some Catholics struggle with infertility, or some, like me, struggle with extreme fertility). Well, some of us are more orthodox than others, I suppose. Just like any other religion.
Lady: Well, I guess people these days are having bigger families than usual. It must mean the economy is recovering. I know of some who have up to 3 kids! What are your children’s names? Or are there too many for you to remember?
Me: (Having an incredibly hard time not getting offended at this point). Um, yes I can remember their names. There are only three of them. Ruth, Rose, and Wren. (Ta da!)
Lady: What are their ages?
Me: (Bracing myself). 3, 2 and 1.
Lady: I don’t even know what to say to that.
Me: (Trying not to show my infinite relief).
Lady: (Rallying anyway). Have you ever heard of the Duggars on that show, “19 Kids and Counting?”
Just as I prepare to fire at will with all of the scathing remarks I have built up for the past few years and turn to the Lady with my best imitation of the crazy eyes, they fortuitously called me back for my pedicure. You got off easy this time, Lady. And on the bright side, I didn’t have a chance to say anything I’ll have to go to Confession about later. But really, sometimes I feel like I live in that place in the movie “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” where all children are banned and the adults live carefree lives playing with all the toys. How could it possibly be such a foreign concept for a Catholic married couple to have a big family? Any day now, they are going to unleash the Child Catcher at our house.