A week ago I received a call from my neighbor Janna, with whom I share a backyard fence. On sunny days we let our children play together in our backyards as we sit on lawn chairs and try to answer the world's greatest problems.
It's a charming life I have.
Janna was calling to say a few extra neighborhood children were over playing in the backyard, and would we like to come out and join them?
At this point I was one week overdue with my third child (and, at this writing I am two weeks overdue, hooray!) and it sounded perfectly lovely for us all to get out and enjoy some sunshine. So I put on the children's clothes, boots and coats and sent them out the door. Then I focused on getting dressed myself.
There isn't much I can wear these days, but thanks to a vast, colorful muu-muu collection, I always have a tent-like dress to drape on my body. I found my fushia dress which features gratuitous pink lilies and white blossoms in sporadic patterns. To protect my cold feed I put on warm, furry brown boots. I threw on my bright, orange trench coat which couldn't be zipped up due to the protrusion in my mid-section. Lastly, I found my dollar store sunglasses — frames with a slight '80s throwback look — put them on and headed out the door to join the children.
In my shadow I could see I had forgotten one small detail — my hair. From the dark outline of my profile on the grass I could see how it puffed from the crown of my head to my shoulders. It was messy and swirly and even my efforts to pat it down only aggravated the situation, so I let it be.
When I showed up where the kids were playing, I watched them all stop to stare at me. They looked like a gang of beady-eyed meerkats, frozen with fear of the oncoming tiger.
"You look good," offered Janna, maybe a bit aware of the sudden silence.
"Uh, I do?" I said, surprised she even offered that compliment.
At that point my child — he who is used to seeing me in such an eclectic get-up — distracted the other children by declaring a light saber war. After that the playing became intense and Janna and I could talk without much interruption. It was hungry calls for lunch that ended our lovely morning in the sunshine.
Later that night, Janna called me again. Apparently one of the children went home and told his mom that I came out to play that afternoon dressed as a clown. That mother then called Janna to see exactly what was going on, as in, did she owe me some sort of performance fee for entertaining her child that morning.
Apropos, I thought. I feel like a clown. Or a whole circus for that matter. Everywhere I go there are sideshows of incredible feats, like me bending over or me trying to squeeze through the pews at church. There is nothing inconspicuous about being majorly pregnant. The spotlight never rests on your situation. Your every moved is tracked and noted.
"You look ready to pop!"
"Oh bless your heart, you must be so worn out."
"Are you sure you aren't having twins?"
My good friend Emmelyn has always said there are only three things you should say to a pregnant woman:
You look great!
Would you like to sit down?
Can I get you a cookie?
That's it. Don't ask them about due dates, don't ask them silly questions they can't answer ("When is that baby coming?") and no matter how entertaining they may be to watch, please don't mistake them for a circus act.
And yes, I'll take a cookie. Thank you very much.
C. Jane Kendrick writes for cjanerun.com, is on facebook as C.Jane Kendrick and tweets as CJaneKendrick. She lives in Provo with her husband and two children.