Belly Lessons

A farmer's market in a small town in the West Coast is exactly what you would expect of it. There is someone playing an acoustic guitar; a french song I recognize from Madeleine Peyroux. There are people laying on the grass with their children, and funny looking dogs tied to trees. The whole place smells of fresh fruits, mostly pomegranates and some other exotic citruses.

Random friendly people come to talk with me just for the heck of it, such as the lady who is explaining I should mix this sauce with this vegetable and lie to my guests that I made that sauce myself. The Indian men who is selling me the sauce had already let me taste every single one of them. "She is pregnant. She should try all of them," he says to no one in particular with his heavy accent, "Here, try this. This good for baby."

Just then I hear a whisper, "Look where that lady hides her baby! She hides it in her belly!" I find the source of the voice and it is a father and his little Shirley Temple looking little girl having lunch. She stares at me, then at my belly, blue eyes wide, and asks her dad, "But WHY?"

I go home smiling, thinking I was that little girl once and the lessons I have learned as a young child about pregnant bellies.

Some of the lessons came from sweet moments; others not so much.


As a young child I had a huge ball I liked to play with. My mother kept telling me I needed to find a proper place to store it, because it seemed to always be in her way.

While walking in the country club one day I noticed a pregnant lady and thought she was the most brilliant person I had ever met. I couldn't believe that a grown woman also had a big ball that she cared enough to carry it with her under her shirt.

I told my mom, excited, pointing at the lady with the ball, "Mom! Look where that lady keeps her ball!"

To this day my mom still laughs out loud about this and she had explained to me then; to wide eyed me then; that what was inside that lady was a baby.

Lesson learned: When you see a lady with a big, round belly, she may be carrying a baby, not a ball.


In Catholic school we had Bible classes as part of the curriculum and when I learned that Mary got pregnant because God wanted her to, I missed the point of the story completely and became horrified that maybe God could decide for me to get pregnant with the next baby Jesus.

I wondered how I was going to explain that to my parents.

I became terrified to use the bathroom for number 2, and push too hard and have a baby.

A friend sensed my concern when I took a little too long in the toilette and I confessed to her my fears.

She said, with a child honesty that most adults lack, "The Virgin Mary was a very good person and you are not."

"I'm not?"

"Nope. You're kinda mean sometimes."

"Oh, good!" I said, relieved.

"Plus I think that God lets you know ahead of time. He sends an angel or something."

I stopped being afraid to use the bathroom but then I was scared shitless of angels.

Lesson learned: I am not good enough of a person to carry the next baby Jesus.


I had a Geography teacher that seemed to be pregnant for three years. She had one baby after another, but because I didn't know about the whole nine months yet (more like ten), I thought her baby just didn't want to come out.

My memory of her was not only her large size, but her difficult waddle from the door of the class to her desk while we threw papers at each other and talked loudly.

Her face always looked like she had just chewed up on some lemon, all screwed up and discontent.

She would try to put order in our unruly class by screaming and telling us what to do.

It never worked. We found her exasperation amusing.

One day she collapsed on her chair, put her head on her hands and started crying.

That was the first time we ever got quiet in class.

Lesson learned: Pregnant ladies are large, they walk funny, cry a lot, get mad a lot and look like they are chewing on lemon all the time.


Growing up in a third world country, you learn that someone soliciting by your door has a whole different meaning than that in the United States.

In Brazil people knocked on our door not to sell things, but to ask for a piece of bread, and they meant it.

(BTW, the economy has gotten better and we don't see this anymore, but as a child I would answer the intercom several times a day to people asking for food)

One day, as I stepped out of the school bus, I was stopped by a pregnant lady that dragged with her two other little kids and a toddler on her arms.

I was told not to talk with strangers, but how can I be afraid of a woman that waddles with a bunch of little kids in tow?

She was dark, had dark hair and bright green eyes. She was probably one of the most beautiful girls I had ever seen and hypnotized by that I listened to her story.

Beggar lady needed a mattress and asked me if we had one to spare. I said we didn't, which was a lie, but I didn't want to get in trouble with my mom.

The lady lifted her shirt. She had stitches on her baby belly that were deep and large.

"My husband stabbed me. He doesn't want another baby and now we have no place to go."

In my twelve year old mind, this was too shocking and too heavy to deal with. I didn't know what to say. I didn't know what to do. I finally decided to haul a mattress down the street to that woman and watched as her little kids carried it, who knows to where.

Lesson learned: Just because a woman is pregnant and has children; that doesn't mean she is immune to violence and people being mean to her.

1 comment:

  1. One of my favorite things about where you are stationed at are the ridiculous amount of Farmer's Markets. Any day of the week you can find one to browse as long as you don't mind a short drive.



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