Thursday, January 15, 2009


When I was nearing the end of my pregnancy, and for those first three weeks of my daughter’s life, before I had to go back to work, I was just like everyone else, more or less. I was a woman who had just given birth. And that’s all. Like many other women, I spent my waking hours with my shirt unbuttoned feeding the girl. Or trying to get her to burp. I spent my sleeping hours awake, feeding the girl or walking up and down stairs with a screaming colicky bundle, patting her back, or whatever it took, to quiet her down. Like everyone else.

I’d never felt so much woman solidarity was when I was in my ninth month of pregnancy. Everyone from the post-office clerks to the checkers in the grocery store would smile and tell me about their kids. They’d guess the baby’s gender by the shape of my belly. Some even produced detailed horoscopes. The people on the bus talked to me and gave me their seats. The stream of pedestrian traffic individuated itself as random people smiled and talked to me in passing. Even the crowds in a couple of sweaty concerts took the mama in stride: “rock on.”

Babies are the common denominators of humanity.

A goodly portion of half the population has given birth, and the rest know someone who has. And everyone was once a baby. My body may have become a bizarre and ponderous formation I did not recognize, but I was just like everyone else.

But this past week was another story.

This past week I was the odd-woman-out.

Or rather, I felt how my difference caused discomfort and inconvenience to a greater community. For the first time.

What kind of person has to serve papers to Babydaddy in conjunction with her daughter’s birthday party? For reasons I won't go into here, I had no choice. The couple with whom I hosted the party was so uncomfortable with the idea we had to resort to more chancy tactics.
Justice was served out of sight and off-property,in a manner not unlike a Sopranos episode I’m proud to say no one else realized what happened, except the guy who got served. But I'm still queasy.

This week my place of employment was hiring. I sat through brilliant candidate talks that left me speechless. But I was too tired to ask intelligent questions. What does it mean to “queer the generative literary systems”? I'm not sure, but I suspect it’s too late for me to start thinking about doing that now.

Nope, I’m not like everyone else. Not like that nice family who shared my daughter’s birthday. Not like my nice family of birth. Not like my childless colleagues, or male colleagues with children and wives.
Not this week, at least.
Oh, well.

1 comment:

Ima Shalom said...

Feh. None of us are as normal as we seem...we're all a freak show in one way or another. : ) And just FYI, we all look up to you for what a powerhouse you are and what a lovely little girl your baby is becoming.