Friday, March 11, 2011

Even if I knew, I wouldn’t tell you.

It is a long-storied fact that pregnancy opens your life up to the scrutiny of strangers and loved ones, alike. The clerk at Walmart that fondles your belly, the beloved family members who do conception math in their heads and insist they know exactly where and when you “did the deed.” Even if no one ever openly acknowledged your expanding waistline, you know it’s there for all to see – the very public evidence of a very private interaction.

I know that some women really enjoy the attention pregnancy brings. They will engage those variously curious strangers in long conversations about aches and pains, previous pregnancies, and all their hopes and aspirations regarding gender, naming, birthing, and sibling reactions. If you’ve gotten into one of those conversations with me, you may cry foul at what I’m about to say, because I, too, have occasionally shared one detail too many about my condition. However, in general, I loathe these exchanges.

I’m as excited as the next girl about the new family member. Despite the many aspects of my life that I consider to be fairly successful and fulfilling, there is nothing that comes close, in my mind, to the joy of being a mom, except perhaps being a wife. Talking about my daughters, telling stories about their various moments of accomplishment and hilarity, brings me great joy; if anything, I probably take more than my share of pride in my family. I am thrilled beyond measure about this little baby who’s going to be joining us soon and look forward to all those crazy moments ahead. Who will she eliminate on first? Which big sister is going to get the first smile?

But, as much as I try to be a straight shooter, there are people I want to share this experience with, and people who I just don’t. And there are things I want to share, things I will share if I get dragged into it, and things I just won’t share. We never told a single person, not even our parents or siblings, that we were expecting a girl the first time. We lied through our teeth and said we didn’t find out at the ultrasound; it was just something we wanted private, for ourselves. Over the course of three pregnancies, I’ve deflected a million name inquiries. My husband always suggests we’re considering the names of the present company, when someone asks. It’s hilarious. They get all flattered, and then realize he’s naming off everyone in the room. Fortunately, we don’t have to lie when we say we don’t know what her name will be; we are lousy at picking girl names. It always goes right down to the wire before we settle on one.  But if we did know, we still wouldn't tell you.

So if I’ve avoided or deflected your inquiries about our new addition, I hope I’ve done so with grace. I’m not trying to be mean or shut you out. I’m just not interested in bludgeoning everyone I encounter with information they do not need to know; it makes me uncomfortable, and I’m trying to keep, in my own way, this tender miracle sacred. As curious as others might be, my little family of four is about to change in a million ways, big and small. This new life is a sacred gift that belongs exclusively to my husband, my daughters, and myself right night. We’re going to welcome her, name her, embrace and assimilate her into our family; and those things are going to be all ours. Then we’ll play the “Circle of Life” in our heads and lift her up from the top of Pride Rock for everyone else to admire. I’m sorry if I’ve disregarded your input on her name and I’m sure I’ll soon disregard many of your well-intended suggestions for getting her fed or back to sleep.

When that time comes, feel free to gossip among yourselves about the limitations of our parenting, naming, or family planning, it won’t bother me. Just don’t ask me what her name is going to be in the mean time.  I hate to be a liar.

"No," the angel replied. "You don't need to know my name. And if you did, you couldn't understand it." Judges 13:18

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