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To the Woman in the Restaurant I Judged for Being Childless

Sometimes it’s heavy — its weight crushing me so I can’t take a deep breath. The world speeds up, and I slow down, and I hate you. I hate you for keeping up. Can’t you see the dubbing for the world is off? Can’t you feel it? Your smile looks smug, your makeup… well, just the fact that you have time for makeup!

I saw you having lunch, your legs crossed showing off tall tan boots that likely cost more than my car payment. She doesn’t have children yet, I thought. Once you have children you could never be so carefree as to lunch after 2 p.m. on a Saturday. I was waiting for takeout, and I watched you. Activities had run late, and we were spending money we don’t have on food we shouldn’t eat. You sat with your husband? boyfriend? rendezvous? and laughed as you sipped a glass of wine. Your pants were winter white. There is no way you have kids. I smile to myself, probably looking a little odd, as I imagine white pants on myself, even for an afternoon. You’re thin, like a runner — like someone who deserves their lean body because they worked hard for it. I envy you. Your husband isn’t looking at his phone. You aren’t rubbing your eyes. You’re talking, and you’re happy, and I am feeling guilty for hating you, and I am blaming you for that too.

I pick up our meal and pay. I don’t take my eyes off the debit machine until I see the words “approved,” I smile like it was never a question and take my bags to walk out. I glance over one last time. I notice you are no longer alone with your husband. From the washroom has emerged two children — a boy, maybe 12, holding the hand of his little brother… a perfect little boy with Down syndrome. I look closer now. You’re still beautiful and thin and happy. Your husband is still looking at you rather than his phone. Your pants are still white. It isn’t easy for you. It never was. You’re doing it though. You’re keeping up. You didn’t let the weight of it crush you even though I know you feel it as much as any of us. Today, at least, you let it drive you, and I am so f*cking impressed I could slow clap. If I did, you’d look to me with my messy bun and dog hair-covered yoga pants, and you’d smile because you’d know exactly what I was applauding, and your smile would tell me I could do it too.

I smile again. The weight lessens. I take a deep breath. I’m sorry I judged you, but worse I’m sorry I judged myself.

This post originally appeared on Go Team Kate.

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