It’s become something of a pastime for women in Starbucks to tell me I’m a terrible mother. I mean, at least that’s the way I’m interpreting the comments. Last week I had three separate women at three separate Starbucks remark on the baby’s size then follow it quickly with a variation on the first one’s statement: “Guess you must have eaten whatever you wanted while you were pregnant.”
When the first one said it I was mortified and almost snorted my iced decaf skim (that’s right, lady, SKIM!) latte all over her. By the time the third one was blathering at me like Dr. Oz later that week I was trending toward an inner eyeroll and a “Yeah, I used to eat butter straight out of the tub with a spoon.” (For the record, the baby is perfectly proportioned, according to her doctor.) (Oh and also for the record I was at Starbucks three times in the past week because when you’re a new parent Starbucks becomes your outpost, allowing for interaction with the outside world, yet not requiring the commitment of sitting down at a table with a menu and a waitress and surrounding customers who will be annoyed if your baby screams and you don’t leave immediately.)
Now, longtime readers of the Bird blog trilogy know — thanks to a smattering of bordering-on-WASPy-in-their-vagueness references — that I have had a somewhat complex relationship with food and body image in the past. (Booyah! Did it again!) Suffice it to say, the funhouse mirror reflection into which pregnancy converts one’s body has been difficult at times. Specifically, at times when blabby ladies of a certain age are implying my Cadbury Creme Eggs are coming home to roost.
And while there is a measure of temptation to do my best neck circle and finger wave and Jerry Springer-stage-ready “You don’t know me!” I am instead realizing in these last few days that I need simply to add this to the list of boneheaded intrusions new mothers must suffer. Sort of makes me nostalgic for the days when it was just an unauthorized belly pat. Also makes me feel for that chick in China who just gave birth to a 13.75-pound baby. The comments she must be getting. Hopefully she’s just thinking, “Yeah, I used to eat red bean paste straight out of the tub with chopsticks,” and rolling her eyes.