Barefoot and/or Pregnant at Christmas Time
It’s December, the month Christians around the world celebrate teen pregnancy, as the ancient story is retold of the virgin Mary giving birth to Baby Jesus, a story I–sort of–identify with every time this season rolls around.
Sort of: I, too, was a young mom. Definitely not of the virginal persuasion, however . . . just an unhappy teen whom the centuries will not celebrate . . . just an angsty 15-year-old who must not have paid attention during the awkward junior high PE class films on all things female . . . just a last-of-seven-siblings goof-off whose exhausted parents never quite got around to paying enough attention to figure out anything was amiss until that damp June 1975 evening when my baby-daddy (a handy 21st-century term that had not quite entered the vernacular in 1975) and I dropped the P-bomb on the fam.
It’s December, 1975. My now-husband and I are official high school drop-outs; fading September wedding photos show that we look even younger than our ages (16, 17), but it’s Christmas time, and with my big belly I feel as conspicuous as Mary.
It’s December, 2016. I just googled “barefoot and pregnant” to see if there was any link between my being an early adopter of motherhood and my current barefoot state.
The ladies of the “Mumsnet” discussion group seem to agree that the “barefoot” part of this quote is definitely negative: “[She] can’t leave because she has no shoes to walk in and [is] pregnant and vulnerable.”
Then there’s good ol’ Wikipedia: “A common assumption is that the expression relates to housewives not leaving the home, and thus not needing shoes.”
One more bit from WikiP: “Barefoot And Pregnant is a phrase that pokes fun at chauvinists who want their women barefoot (so that they are unable to socialize) and pregnant (helpless). This follows the general image of society in which women are merely objects.”
Hmm. According to “society” (whatever that is), no shoes = homebound helplessness.
Not my shoe-less experience at all; in fact, learning to adapt to hiking/running barefoot for hours on rocky, muddy, dusty, steepy trails for the last six years has made me feel . . . has made me feel . . . had made me feel like the middle-aged embodiment of all 26 synonyms for “able” (thanks to the lovely Thesaurus.com): adept, adequate, adroit, agile, alert, apt, bright, capable, competent, cunning, deft, dexterous, easy, effortless, endowed, equipped, facile, fitted, good, intelligent, knowing, powerful, ready, smart, strong, worthy.
As Homer Simpson would say, “Woo hoo!”
The “. . . and pregnant” half of the equation hits home, though: this is definitely a vulnerable state of being, whether or not you’re 16. 18. 22. (The ages I delivered babies.) How crazy it seems–looking back from my 40-some-years-later perch of perspective–that I was able to muddle through these chapters of life with our three kids: Oopsie, Uh-oh, and Not Again.
Or was it only “our” kids? (Spoiler alert: nope.)
It wasn’t just me and Baby-daddy; we had lots of help along the way, including the love-and-presence of God as well as our big ol’ extended families . . . once they got over the hilarity of “Thea’s pregnant? That tomboy? Didn’t she hate playing with dolls and now she’s got a baby to take care of 24/7/365? That’s the most ironic thing I’ve ever heard of. I think I just snorted Fresca out my nose.” (Fresca = popular 70s soda pop brand.)
So it’s December again, and these annual musings twinkle like background Christmas music that you’d like to put an end to, but worry that it might be considered symptomatic of a mental unhingement to rip the tinny speakers out of the grocery store ceiling, so you hum along.
And plot your next barefoot trail adventure.