“I don’t want this to sound weird or offend you, but is it okay to ask when your baby is due?”
The young grocery clerk shyly asked me peering at my obvious enlarged physique.
“June,” I replied with a smile.
“Congratulations! Is this your first child,” he halfway stated, halfway asked.
“Actually… it’s our… third.”
“Oh, wow. Wow.” He stopped mid-scan and looks at me in much dubiety. “You guys must be really brave.”
I laugh a little crazed laugh. Oh, innocent adorable young grocery man, you don’t even know the half of it.
“You know what? I think we must be,” I grinned back at him.
In this moment, I find myself feeling so grateful for this clerk. I know he is just trying to make small talk, but in his sweet questions, a feeling of gratefulness comes over me. I think about taking this conversation further. I think about telling him how he is so right, you do have to be brave to be a parent. I think about telling him some of the joys and hardships of parenting, the true miracle of life, the sobering and life-changing odyssey of parenthood… but in a moment of clarity think better of it.
Do I really want to go full sentimental wisdom on him and frighten his precious soul to the core?
I may be brave, but truthfully, I will take that luck.
Instead, I quickly decide to change the subject and casually ask for drive-up service — where, hallelujah-amen, you drive up and they put the groceries in your car for you. (This drive-up request sounds lazy, by the way. But, in these eternal South Dakota winters, someone putting groceries in your car for you under a roof covering so you avoid getting slapped by the stinging wind whilst trying to put fragile eggs in your filthy, muddy, sleet covered car… Well, that’s a luxury I will and must seize upon.)
I wave goodbye to the polite and curious clerk as he shouted endearingly, “Good luck, ma’am!”
Once again, I laugh and think to myself, “Right on, man. I may be brave, but truthfully, I will take that luck.”
This whole interaction made my day. I have heard that some women get offended when someone inquires about their obvious pregnancy. I, however, feel the exact opposite. In fact, I welcome it. Sometimes, I myself weirdly and probably inappropriately, stare at pregnant women. I just want to give her a standing ovation. I want to take her by the hand and say, “Wow. You’re here. You’re doing it.”
You see, despite the fact that women all over the world have been birthing humans, quite literally, since the beginning of time, I am constantly reminded that bringing a life into the world is not easy nor a given. It is, for lack of a better word, miraculous at every single juncture of the journey.
I know there are so many of us that have endured the emptiness of a womb. I have seen in my dearest friend’s eyes the crushing weight of empty arms where there should be a baby. I see the bravery in these women’s eyes. Enduring. Persevering. Never losing hope. There’s so much to lose, so much that can go wrong. And yet, that one thing that is always so right when we finally hold him/her in our arms.
The clerk got it right: We must all be pretty brave to do this, let alone do it multiple times.
So, to him I want to say: Sweet grocery clerk, “No, it isn’t weird that you’re asking when my baby is due, and no, I’m not offended that you’re asking. And thank you, thank you for taking the time to notice and call out the bravery, the luck, and the whole lot of miracle that is embodied by a woman who is bound and determined to bring a life into this world. Somewhere, your brave mother should be proud.”•
Follow Tracy on her blog, littleparentontheprairie.com.