Almost Mother’s Day

 

Chalk portrait at the Standard hotel

Mother’s Day is a good day to be pregnant. I would like to think that sounds poetic, like the first line of Leonard Cohen’s poem, Days of Kindness, which begins, “Greece is a good place/to look at the moon, isn’t it?” But I fear it just sounds simplistic. Yeah, mother’s day celebrates moms and pregnant women are going to be moms, so sure, people will be nice to the pregos on that day. But I didn’t realize HOW nice people would be to me. Virtually everyone I saw wished me happy mother’s day (or, in some cases “a special mother’s day”) with a big old smile. I wasn’t sure how to react. I said thank you, of course, but I couldn’t tell if I should wish Happy Mother’s Day right back at the women (what if they didn’t have kids? Would they think I though they looked pregnant?).

For a minute I reasoned, everybody has a mom, so I could wish everyone happy mother’s day with impunity. But then I thought, what if the recipient of my wishes had just lost their mom or never known her, and I inadvertently made them feel, like the song says, just like a motherless child? Maybe people were so nice to me because a pregnant woman, or M.I.T. (mother-in-training) is the one safe person to wish Happy Mother’s Day too–you know she’s en route to being one; there’s no room for denial.

Janice the Muppet; it's like looking in a mirror.

Normally, it’s not all well-wishers and holidays here in Gestation, Florida. The other day I caught a glimpse of myself in a mirrored wall as I walked to the ATM and thought, “There’s something about a large pregnant woman in a white t-shirt that looks like she’s just given up.” But on Mother’s Day, one of the attendants at the pool at the Standard Hotel, where we swim, drew the above chalk art in honor of the holiday, then gave me a daisy, saying I was his inspiration. I love everything about this drawing: how it recognizes my uncanny resemblance to Janice the Muppet. How he gave Amalia a little diaper in utero, because she’s a modest little lady. How we’re both wearing lipstick to mark the occasion.

The artist was Italian, so it sounded even better when he asked me to pose next to the drawing because “you are my inspiration.” And it reminded me how nice so many men have been to me here as I get larger and larger. In New York on my last visit, it was the women who were nicer, offering me seats on the subway; not one man got up–nor offered to help with my luggage at JFK. And here in Miami, the ladies are nice too, for the most part (one let me cut ahead of her in the bathroom line, because “I’ve been there”). But the men have been amazing. One pumped gas for me although it was self-service pump. The butcher told me, “God has blessed you because you are pretty like a little dolly”–and while pretty may be in the eye of the beholder, there is nothing little about me lately. And a man with a dog walked past us at brunch and said to me, “you are just glowing.”

Now, I’m no dummy. Nor am I Demi Moore circa 1991 or any other pregnant model. I know these guys see a red-faced, bloated pregnant woman suffering in the Miami heat and are just trying to make her feel better. But I SO appreciate their little white lies. Since they’ve obviously never been pregnant themselves, I wonder how they could know how much it means to hear them?

Altar to Cuba's Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre from the University of Miami website.

I have a suspicion that their unexpected kindess to strange pregnant ladies might stem from the Latin influence in Miami. Are Latins nicer to pregnant ladies, and if so, why? Is it because of the eminence of Mary in the Catholic church? Or am I overthinking this here? Or just sliding into racist hypothesizing? Whatever the case, I’ll take it. So, thank you, men of Miami Beach. And happy…Springtime…to all of you.

 

For more on my racism, and on maternity in Miami, please check out the following essay I wrote, which is now on the local public radio’s Under the Sun website. I call it “I’m Having a Bebé–Maternity in Miami.” http://wlrnunderthesun.org/2011/01/maternity-in-miami/

 

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