Thank You?

I was at the zoo last week pushing the kids in the double jogging stroller, and I was wearing jeans, a boxy pink sweater, and running shoes. Like most of my days with two small children, very little effort went into my appearance. Which is why the following conversation surprised me.

Two women were pushing their strollers toward me. As they passed me, I could feel one of them looking at me. Then, I heard her say, “And look at her. She has a baby, and she doesn’t even look like she’s had a baby!”

I actually glanced around to see if any other women with babies were walking by us at that very moment, but she must have been talking about me.

First of all, thanks. I’ll try to take that as a compliment.

Second, looks are deceiving. Yes, I do have a baby, but she’s not nearly as young as she looks. She’s 10 months old now, four months older than she looks.

Third, women shouldn’t judge themselves so harshly. I am wearing my regular jeans again, which I do consider to be an accomplishment because it’s been a rough year. And I do have two small kids. But, what that lady didn’t know is that I don’t have babies. I have two-pound kittens, which explains why I don’t look like I’ve had full-term babies. I haven’t.

Fourth, it always stings a little when people say things like “you don’t look like you just had a baby.” I know it’s meant as a compliment, and I understand the intention. But, I always think back to those tiny babies and those awful deliveries. And it actually feels like an indictment, like a reminder of some major failures in my life. I always want to ask if someone would really trade being a few pounds heavier with seeing her tiny baby struggle for life.

So, thank you, I guess?

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