I cocked my head in the universal gesture for Huh?
“I see you’re here for your first prenatal visit!”
“Um…no. Pretty sure I’m not.”
“Yes, it says so in the computer.”
“Pretty sure your computer is wrong.”
I’ve joked for years that my life is like a sit-com, and this vignette was a prime example. What started out as a routine annual physical (weight, blood pressure, checking my heart and lungs) had turned into a farce because someone at a call center had checked a wrong box and the receptionist felt compelled to announce it to the waiting room.
I easily could have turned this into a melodrama. I could have dashed into the ladies room, dissolved into a puddle of self-pity, and called my sister to wail about the unfairness of life, the cruelties of the universe. But there was no need to over-react. The receptionist wasn’t trying to hurt me; she was misinformed (not her fault) and she thought I had something to celebrate. Her intentions were kind, she was reaching out to me, and I’m sure she was gearing up to share her experience of her first prenatal visit when she was pregnant with the first of her three grown kids.
Under other circumstances, it could have been a lovely moment. Or it could have been an awful moment. I chose to make it an absurdly funny moment. Once we cleared up the reason for my appointment, I stepped outside and called a close girlfriend who is also childfree. “You are not going to believe this…my life is a freakshow!” I told her what happened, and together we howled with laughter. Then we talked about how far we both have come on our journeys from disappointed mama-wanna-bes to mostly-contented childfree women.
We’ve all heard our share of insensitive comments, and we know well-intentioned but ill-timed comments can be even more hurtful. I’d like to suggest that we humans generally have the best intentions to be kind to one another, and it’s my intention to try to see this good in others as often as possible.
Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She believes laughter truly is the best medicine.