My girl at dinner pointed out that if I ate any more, then more parents, teachers, and fish-shop owners would congratulate me on at least LOOKING pregnant. Because, every couple weeks or so, someone pats my tummy and says, “Congratulations! Omedetou!”
I have taught my daughter’s preschool teacher the term, “foodbaby”. I have taught my neighbor, the fishmonger, organic grocer, and countless clerks that I must be pregnant with dinner or my lunch, just smiling like, ha, isn’t it the most awesome, funnest thing?
This is a culture that has no qualms about pointing-out someone’s fluctuations in weight, when they’ve gotten fatter. Maybe it’s like noticing a haircut. You either got one or you didn’t. Except that in calling-out such an inward, loaded happening out, paying congrats to a woman with some very normal tum, one needs some extra-thick skin. Also, I am sensitive to this thing, for my fellow-sister who may be grieving her baby, may be dealing with a miscarriage. Please, people. Wait until you see the “I’m pregnant, now let me sit on the train” pass. Wait until you spot her rubbing her tummy or protectively, instinctively caressing this round tummy, pulling her sweater a bit over to tuck in a little one. She is a mother, already. Wait until you see some evidence, please! Don’t just look for what is fat.
I am light about this, I am. I smile and imagine a third child at the table. I shake my head as they ask when I’m due! What??! Of course, I could simply take the hint and go work out. It’s just funny–I truly don’t believe this would be happening in the US–this situation where every week, every three weeks, I’ve got another funny story about the latest person who asked me if the baby is coming soon and how great for my children!
Asia is a pretty skinny place. Most Japanese pregnant women don’t look pregnant from the back, at all. Some women truly even diet, afraid what any “extra” weight will do to effect their delivery and/or the conversations with their doctor.
It’s not like the nation is suffering from an overeating obesity problem; a little tummy stands-out. I guess I stand out? (I’m shaking my head. I don’t know and it doesn’t really matter, does it).
It’s called being over thirty-three people; it’s called, “backoff!”, and I really like snacks! It’s also a bit of “I’ve had two children”. I walk, run, and bike everywhere, so leave me alone. Also, being that it is now the tail-end of winter, some of the pudge they mistake for a last-trimester baby is really sweater-under-jacket-bulge; they must really be looking for it. (Some of the pudge may also be pancakes, short stacks, crepes, cake, whatever. I’m holding-on to being petite).
Oh well. At least they’re excited for me. For my food baby and all these sweaters and jackets with stupid thick wool ties bulking-up my silhouette. Of course, this is all assuming that in warmer weather, they don’t just swear they saw the baby kick from under there, under my seemingly-maternity shirt.
Listen, maybe it will give me a seat on the train and some sweet gifts. Maybe it earns me the “right” to seconds. Or fifths.