Making a wrong assumption about someone can swiftly and uncomfortably escalate into a shame spiral: You feel embarrassed when you recognize your misstep, the person you assumed to understand feels more embarrassed at your faulty belief, and in turn their embarrassment makes you feel even worse.
The thing about wrong assumptions, though, is that the shame spiral is a necessary antidote - a natural remedy that puts an end to the assumption before it can do more damage. It only works, however, if both the assumer and the assumee recognize that a wrong assumption had been made. If not, the spiral can turn into a one-sided nosedive of dispair.
Assuming I lost my mind, dear friends? Read on.
Yesterday I had the lucky double-whammy of being at a Christening for my friend Fertile Myrtle's second child when Said Friend Stacie announced her pregnancy. Immediately after the congratulations had subsided, Said Friend Stacie launched into the whole story about how surprising it all was and how she had assumed it would take a while to get pregnant but, look at that! It was soooo easy.
To which Fertile Myrtle replied: "I know! I've heard that sometimes it takes women like, months, to get pregnant. I would just die. Just. Die." She then turned to me and asked, "So when are you and BumpMister having a baby? You're still not ready for it?"
This same conversation has happened in one form or another over the past few months more times than I can count. From my mother-in-law pondering out loud if I care too much about my career to care about having kids, to my coworkers voting me most-likely-to-get-knocked-up-next in an informal office poll. It seems that everyone finds it perfectly acceptable to make overt assumptions about other people's wombs.
So what is the best response to these wrong assumptions gone awry? Snarkily reply, "I, for one, am not ready to ruin my figure."? Joke, "I'm vying for that recent opening in the Guiness Book of World Records for oldest woman to give birth."? Or scream, "I'm trying, dammit! I'm trying! I'm trying! I'm trying you stupid cow!"?
I don't know what the right answer is (OK, I do), but all I know is my answer has been working for me so far: Say nothing, sit back, smile pretty, and think to myself: "My kid is going to be cuter than yours."