Sunday, July 18, 2010

I HEART Pregnant Ladies

The whole I heart trend swept though Paris this year in the form of stickers, sweatshirts, graffiti and more. While everyone strives to put an original spin on it, the only I HEART _____ that really caught my eye was this sticker stuck to a scooter parked infront of the agency...

Translation: I HEART nothing. I am Parisian. (Note: this rhymes in French making it all the funnier in my opinion)

I love this sticker on so many levels. Parisians really do appear to love nothing and even the few things they secretly do love they happily criticize from time to time just to keep things consistent. The one enormous exception to this rule is pregnant ladies. Never have I experienced so much love, affection and attention from my fellow city dwellers then I have over the past few months.

Not only does everyone I meet (aunt, baker, banker, boss, co-worker, cleaning lady, delivery guy, doorman...) want to talk to me about out my pregnancy, they all want to compliment me and cheer me on! Wishing me bon courage! And telling me what a great job I am doing!

The first set of comments and compliments rolled in at around five months when my belly started to show. The Parisian women in my life peeped up first, commenting on the size and shape of my expanding midsection. "Oh la la Mary, the shape of your belly is so perfectly round! How lucky you are!" or "Mary, pregnancy suites you so well! Look at the curves of this bump it is perfect!". They discussed and drooled over my tummy as if it were the new must have accessory for the summer that my ultra rich husband bought for me as a gift.

Adoration of the bump soon expanded from my private circle of acquaintances to the sphere of public art. It was both part of me and not part of me, it was as if I had sculpted something lovely for the whole world to look at, admire and comment on. Parisians who are known to stomp the streets wearing their funeral faces would briefly remove their stoney masks and smile at my belly or make a kind remark. Note: Never did a Parisian run up and touch my belly, something people from the States warned me about and something I was preparing for mentally. Must be too close to hugging for their comfort.

I should tell you that it is not just the women; as I was walking down the street I overheard two young men sitting in a café say, "Ahhh look at her! Some guys are just lucky as I guess.". I also had a charming old man stop me as he exited the bakery one morning to say to me with admiring eyes, "Félicitations madame! Go make us a beautiful baby!". Who the 'us' is in this sentence is open-ended. I am assuming he means us as in Team France as in go forth young lady and make a beautiful French baby who we can add to the ranks of tax-paying-French-speaking-citizens-of-the-world... I can't help but wonder if I were not a young, fair skinned brunette if he would have said the same thing?

In addition to the kind words that swirl around pregnant Parisians there are all kinds of kind gestures that are offered to make sure we are as comfortable as possible. This is most notable when riding the public transit system in Paris. People practically leap out of their seats when they see you insisting that you take their spot. At times more than one person will offer and then a small debate amongst the travelers will ensue, "Take my seat in the corner madame, you will be more protected here" followed by "Non non madame take my seat by the window you will be more comfortable here!".
Last week I hopped on the bus. Buses in Paris are a lovely airy luminous alternative to the underground  metro and have the added benefit of not having to hike up and down stairs with a giant belly, a stroller or a walking cane. Because of this, buses in Paris are stuffed full of the old, the pregnant and the leagues of parents burdened with strollers and toddlers. In this kind of environment I believe almost everyone deserves a seat, but again, fair or unfair, pregnant ladies trump all! When I got on the bus last week I saw that all the seats were filled with young mothers and the elderly. No one offered me their spot which seems logical to me, plus I was feeling fine standing up so I grabbed the bar and was ready to depart. Just then, the bus driver looked in the mirror, opened the door to his little cabin, stepped out and announced to the bus that he was not leaving until someone offered me a seat! I assured him that I was fine and this wasn't necessary and he simply wouldn't not hear it.

So while in a few weeks form now when this little bébé is born I will certainly not miss my swollen ankles and killer heart burn, I will almost certainly miss the rare affection and attention of my fellow urban dwellers reserved for pregnant ladies. Although who knows how much they heart babies?


Cyrielle said...

You look beautiful, I hope im not being to French :-) hahaha I like your orange stroller BTW.

Kristin said...

another great post by Mme Bouron! Tu es fantastique!