As a woman, and I’m speaking to my fellow women, do you ever feel like getting your man to hold a door open is like pulling teeth? Like he’s waiting until you’re six-feet-under to buy you flowers and mean it? Like carrying on a deep, emotional life conversation is his own personal version of hell unless the Final Four tournament is on in the background? I don’t care if he’s your husband, your boyfriend, or your baby-daddy…this man will change overnight when he finds out you’re carrying his mini-me. And if he was the sensitive “buy-flowers” type before, you’re in for a garden of royal treatment during these long nine months.
The best part is, this doesn’t just go for the father. This seems to apply to the male species across the board. I have been pregnant for six months and have run into many examples of this. Maybe I notice it more because in a way, I expect it. No man should let a heavy glass door shut on a pregnant belly! No way should he stay in his seat if your fat butt walks on the bus and it’s standing room only! And, YES, he BETTER tell me I look beautiful today, dammit! No excuses. But, the question is, WHY do we expect it? I think it’s because they actually DO it. You can’t set expectations on someone if you don’t really think it’s got a shot in hell of happening. So, men must’ve proved themselves over the last million years. But, how?
It almost feels as though they are all members of this secret club, and when they start school, they’re given a secret club membership card which allows them to enter this secret club class only offered to members of this secret club. “Redeem this card for a free, must-attend-if-you-have-testicles workshop on the smart and necessary treatment of pregnant women.” Then, they all say they’re “going to the gym” but really they’re cramming 10,000 dudes into a small classroom and showing them the rights and wrongs of the situation, in case they ever find themselves in this pickle.
I know a lot of unkind men who have treated me like a different woman since I developed my baby bulge. I’ve been offered chairs with make-shift cushions from guys who would normally offer me a rug on the floor (on a good day). I’ve been told I “am just as cute as they expected me to be ” by guys who used to scoff at my outfit choice or laugh at my new haircut. Old high school bullies and ex-boyfriends have contacted me just to say “congratulations.” What is happening? Well…
My guess is that, yes, they are being sincere, but maybe there is some underlying fear. In this secret membership man-class, they must’ve drilled home the prominent role of the dreaded hormones. “Don’t screw up, guys! It’s a wrath you won’t be able to handle. If she hated you before, expect it to triple! If she liked you before, expect her to hate you!” Sounds like a pretty accurate class, doesn’t it? Out of fear and/or the want to hang on to what’s left of your ” good side,” men turn into amazingly sensitive and generous creatures the second you announce your news.
I also wonder if it might have something to do with their macho cover-ups disappearing when we are no longer a “threat.” Men have an insane sex-drive which underlies ALL, ok, MOSTLY everything they say and do. We’ve all been there…a bar on a Saturday night. A guy in a striped AE shirt approaches you to buy you a drink. Read: I want to sleep with you. Or, your group of girlfriends go to a club to celebrate something female-esque and the attractive, bulging bouncer lets you all in for free. Read: I want to sleep with ALL of you. If he is doing you a favor, he might expect a “favor” in return. And, if he doesn’t and he really is a genuinely nice guy (they DO exist…I landed one!) with no hidden motives, hold on tight and never let go! Where was I going with this? Whenever I talk about sex, I get all flustered and lose my train of though….
Oh yeah! So, my point was, once you’re noticeably pregnant, it means someone else did the job and men have more freedom to shed their macho skin. You’re no longer classified as a “potential” with him, so why not show a little sensitivity? Sadly, even the sacrament of marriage won’t stop some women from leaving that “potential” category (um, 50% divorce rate – hello!?). But, get knocked up and your target has officially been removed. You’ve been rebranded as the female “safe haven” for long conversations about his girl problems and a beautiful excuse for harmless flirting. To quote Juno, “I’m already pregnant. What other kind of shenanigans can I get myself into?” Amen, sister. A-MEN.
I guess it’s fair to say this isn’t true for all men, and I’m actually doing what I hate most right now – stereotyping. There will be those men who skipped the must-attend secret membership club class and they will always flip you off on the highway or point out your weight gain or take up two seats on the couch when the floor is the only other option. To punish them for skipping class (and for missing that sensitivity chip), you have free reign to slap him across the face, sob uncontrollably, and go to your mother’s house. If he had attended class like a good boy, he would’ve been prepared for the consequences of his overactive sex drive. Sorry, buddy.
For the most part though, men are smart and fully aware of our changing bodies and our need for help during this special time. I have tried to appreciate every gesture that every man in my life has done for me. Whether it was a friend helping me off a sinking futon, my father buying me non-alcholic wine when I visit home, or my husband sprinting down the stairs to carry the laundry basket up for me…I remember it all. They attended their secret class, and if I had to guess, most likely walked out as co-valedictorians. Bravo to you men! We don’t take you for granted. And relax…it’s only for nine months. Once it’s over and the baby is here, you can go back to your peaceful, uninterrupted Final Four tournament… (shhh…let him believe this for a few seconds…)