As someone who is one of the last ones in her circle of friends to have a baby, I’d like to think I’ve had a taste of both sides in, what seems like, an underlying battle between parents and non-parents. I’m most certainly not saying that this applies to all groups, but after speaking with a few mommies and non-mommies, it does seem to be happening a bit everywhere as people’s opinion continues to grow on both sides.
Often it hides in the form of silly little comments that none of us want to hear, and I just don’t see why there has to be such a divide on the topic. We have enough issues in the world with people not getting along because of their political stance, religion or sexual preference, so do we really need to add anything on top of that pile? Of course, a transition period is normal when people have major life changes (be it having a kid, changing jobs, moving countries, you name it) and sometimes these changes may affect the closeness you once had, but that does not always need to indicate the end of a close relationship.
Even though I am the proud mommy of an 8 month old poop machine of my own now, I did have 32 blissful years without kids before that, so I’d like to try and write about the ups and downs for both sides and be neutral… like Switzerland.
What Parents need to stop saying to Non-Parents
1) “You think you’re tired? Try having kids!”
Yes, having a child is tiring and you don’t sleep much at all. But I can guarantee you that people know very well what it’s like to be exhausted, stressed, worn out and depleted without the input of little ones. There are other things in life that cause just as much sleep deprivation as kids do and we are not some exclusive club of insomniacs.
2) “Dog are not kids’
As a dog owner and a parent I can say: ‘Yes they bloody well are!!’ Of course, animals are not children, and people who compare their dog with your toddler know that very well. What they are trying to say is that dogs can be like children. Having someone wine at your feet as you try to cook dinner, cleaning up their poop, feeding them (as they chuck a tantrum because they want to eat what you are having instead), jumping in your bed at 5 am and needing constant cuddles…. sounds pretty similar to me.
3) “My life was meaningless before I had kids”
Don’t get me wrong, I love my daughter very much, but I’m pretty happy to say that my life had plenty of meaning before I had her, thank you very much. People who tell non-parents that their life didn’t have meaning before having children, will only make those non-parents feel like worthless pieces of sh*t, all because they didn’t squeeze out a tiny human.
4) “You don’t know unless you have kids”
Yes, certain scenarios do require first hand experience at being a parent in order to fully grasp and understand the situation, however, that does not mean you can dismiss a non-parents’ input by shrugging off their lack of knowledge on the topic just because they haven’t had their nose buried in a shitty diaper. It’s the same as me not knowing what it is like to go Bungee Jumping, unless I have been strapped in and taken a leap of a tall bridge.
5) “Going to the playground would probably be too boring for you’
Why on earth do some parents think, that just because some don’t have children, that they cannot engage in child-related activities. I had a friend once, who had her first child and instantly cut us off from her circle because she didn’t think we could meet up on Sunday mornings or could hang out at the playground as she judged us for having a few drinks during a weekday (even though she was the one dancing on the bar table with her T-shirt pulled over her ears only a mere 10 months before that herself).
What Non-Parents need to stop saying to Parents
1) “Let’s just have a quick coffee/lunch/drink.. you can spare 30 minutes can’t you”
I’m sorry, but there is nothing ‘quick’ about anything anymore. Leaving the house literally takes more than 30 minutes (even if you pre-packed the diaper bag the night before).. there’s always a last minute poop, two runs back upstairs because you first forgot their spare dummy and then you left their fruit snack in the fridge. When we go have a half hour coffee, that takes about 3 hours out of our day.
2) “I wish I could stay home all day today as well”
I understand that your work is very busy and a nice day at home with a book and a glass of wine does sounds dreamy…. the reason we know that is because we have been dreaming of it since the day we brought little rug rat home. Please know that parents who stay at home with their children work just as hard as people in the office. Sure, we don’t deal with angry bosses and aren’t buried up to our elbows in paperwork; but we do deal with angry non-verbal human beings and believe you me, what we are covered up into our elbows in, is not paper… we should be so lucky. (and for those who need me to spell it out.. I’m talking about poop).
3) “You chose to have children, you shouldn’t complain’
Yes, we chose to have our little pooping miracles, and not a day goes by where we’re not grateful to have them in our life. But once in a while we too need to have an outlet and a vent about the joys (and challenges) of parenthood. Just as much as someone needs a glass of wine after a difficult meeting with a client or cuts in the company budget; blowing off steam is something we’re all entitled to.
4) “All you talk about is your children’
I must agree, even as a parent, there are days where if I hear the word ‘diaper’, ‘tummy time’ or ‘milestone’ one more time I’ll crawl up the walls. But please understand, especially as stay at home parents, 13 hours of our day are spent with only the company of our tiny human and little to no contact with other adults. Of course we remember what it’s like to talk about current world events, relationships, sex, and heck, we can even still crack a joke once in a while…. we had a kid, not a lobotomy! But such topics are pretty hard to discuss as we try and restrain the wriggling toddler on our lap who is shrieking for more juice….. get us aside with a drink in our hand and our baby far away from us.. and we can talk about anything you want to talk about.
5) “But you still have time to write a Blog”
Yes, I do have time for a blog. I also started writing this 3 hours ago when she started her nap.. but in the meantime I have changed a poopy diaper, had a dance party, frantically searched for Bumba the Clown and had to calm down the dog who’s ears got pulled…. and now I am finishing this post as someone is pulling at my shoelaces and gnawing on the desk chair legs (probably not the most hygienic thing I should be allowing).
I would like to conclude on a deep and meaningful note to expresses how we’re all in the same boat and that none of us are better than anyone else… and I would like to leave you inspired and not offended, but my kid just discovered where we keep the guitar so I need to go before she snaps the E string and she looses an eye…