An offhanded joke about being barefoot and in the kitchen left me feeling full of rage and irritation. I bristled at the barb about being barefoot and pregnant. I blurted out that pregnancy was very difficult for me. I recognized the rage that was threatening to boil over my veneer of carefully posed self-control. I made my way out of the now stifling kitchen outside to sit in a chair and just breathe.
Why did I get so triggered by this lame attempt at a joke? One of the main reasons is that I think of myself as a feminist. I bristle against the stereotype of a woman barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. It speaks of a reality that is not mine at all. Both my husband and I work outside of the house full-time. He is the primary cook in our family due to his work schedule and fantastic culinary skills.
I am not dismissing the role of stay at home moms at all. In fact the majority of the SAHMs I know are not in their homes, barefoot and pregnant. It dismisses the very real contribution of all women to keeping the household running through scheduling, maintaining and balancing budgets, cleaning the house and feeding the family. Many of these women are fantastic volunteers who singlehandedly keep our schools and other non-profit organizations running smoothly. I know many SAHM in the blogosphere who are changing lives with their advocacy and commitment to raising awareness of issues like special needs, postpartum mood disorders, suicide prevention, and mental health awareness.
The other reason is that pregnancy was not sunshine and rainbows for me. I had gestational diabetes which made my pregnancies high risk. I struggled with undiagnosed antenatal depression and anxiety throughout my pregnancy with Skeeter. Sciatica was a constant companion. I felt very little joy during my pregnancy; all I felt was irritability, anxiety, and panic. I was not myself at all. My husband and I had made the decision that my pregnancy with Skeeter would be my last. So making a joke about me being pregnant triggered a visceral reaction of rage within me. I did not know how to tell anyone how I felt during my pregnancy. All I knew was that I was not okay, but I had to hold it together for my husband and my sweet Munch. What kind of a mom feels like that when she’s pregnant with a very much wanted child? So please, please jokes about having another are not okay. No one of us can truly know what types of struggles a couple is having: infertility, postpartum mood disorders, financial struggles. So if someone asks me again, I will try to reply graciously and firmly. Not one more. Our family is complete.