The baby shower was much less painful than I thought it would be. For one, only my boss and former co-worker were there, and of the two, my boss was the one to acknowledge my and Nathan’s presence. She was actually nice to me, but that’s not saying much. I’ve seen her applaud some executive director’s work and then when the ED was out of earshot, she added, “I can’t believe she’s taking so long to finish that project. I would have never hired her.”
And when she asked, “So you quit school spring semester, right,” I knew after that dreadful breakfast, she was probably running her mouth with, “Well, you know Mona got knocked up and had to quit school,” even though I did graduate early (and with honors, yo!) and walked at my departmental ceremony just four weeks after having Nathan.
But instead of firing off my oh-no-you-didn’t hand wave, I replied, “No. I didn’t have to take any classes during the Spring because I had finished. Early.”
It would be pointless to prove myself to someone who cherry-picks flaws and feeds on low points. I want to say that I had no intention of showing Nathan off to these women, but that’s about as true as my undying love for cilantro. But having my pastel-dressed, beret donning son there provided me with physical proof that my life is good.
And tangentially speaking, if you’re thinking about having a baby and need another item for the “pros” column, think of this: you’ll never be alone at a party. I didn’t speak Arabic (my pregnant friend is from Baghdad) and I didn’t want to rehash the few good times with ye colleagues of olde (because that conversation wouldn’t last long). Also, you don’t have to clean up the party because your hands are full of baby, giving you a very unselfish yet totally selfish way to say, “I would help, but you know, the baby.”
So Nathan and I babbled to each other while the Arab women belly-danced in a circle, moving to the music and a clap-driven beat. They danced in pairs; they danced alone. The women who had sat quietly, picking at their tabbouleh and hummus were called to life on the dance floor, their hips moving and jerking, arms and hands gracefully securing spots in the air around them. Unfettered by scarves and coverings their hair spilled down their backs and reached further when they arched their bodies.
When I was pulled in, I moved to the middle, taking Nathan as my dance partner. I shook my hips as much as I could while toting a 26-lb baby, and performed varying speeds of the “mommy-side-to-side-sway.” I lowered Nathan down and then quickly lifted him up in a grand, sweeping motion and my son’s laughing mouth said much better than I ever could, “Here I am, in yo’ face, ladies!”