I recently read this article at Huffington Post: Some Dos and Don'ts for People Without Kids When Dealing With Their Breeder Friends
While I'm usually a fan of Huffington Post parenting writers, this one just left me scratching my head. Your friends should do housework for you? What? Your childless friends don't have the right to complain that they are tired or stressed? Um. No.
Author JD Roberto managed to single-handedly perpetuate every single why-people-can't-stand-parents stereotype.
So I decided to do my own list. Here we go...
Things I wish my childless friends knew about my life as a parent:
1. The decision to have a child was mine and I accept the responsibility that comes with that. Just like anything, there are good parts and bad. As my friend, you aren't required to pick up the slack of my decision to procreate, but you are required to listen to me vent about it, the same as I listen to you vent about relationships, work, getting older - like we always have. And yes, you may judge me for it and think things like "well you were the crazy one who wanted kids..." but you may not say them out loud.
2. Don't take it personally. Yes, I have less time. Kids get sick. Good babysitters are hard to find. So yes, I will probably not be as fun or exciting as I used to be but that doesn't mean that you still aren't important to me. It's not you, it's me. And if I'm not giving you enough attention, feel free to say so. I probably need the reminder.
3. Even I know the incessant Facebook pictures are annoying. My bad. My kid is cute and the whole gaggle of grandparents and aunts and uncles who "like" every single thing that has his image in it reaffirms this. So I will probably keep doing this, although I resolve to actively try to reign myself in. However, if I start documenting my child's poop adventures, you have every right to tell me I'm being annoying.
4. I'm jealous of your life. Yes, I said it. I love my child but I absolutely miss those days where I could hop a plane for a weekend adventure or even just sit through a movie. Heck, I would really like to go to the bathroom without an audience from time to time. Tell us about your crazy adventures. Please! Yes, we will jealously drool over your two weeks in the Caribbean or traipsing all over Europe. I will jealously and excitedly soak in every word and look through every single picture you post on Facebook. Then I will probably go clean up baby vomit. See why I need you?
5. I feel judged too. So many of my childless friends say that they feel like their breeding friends judge them for not having children when it's such a meaningful experience. I can't speak for everyone, but I certainly don't judge them. Children aren't for everyone and it isn't a responsibility to be taken on by someone who isn't doing it for the right reasons. It's not exactly something you can half-do. And guess what? I feel the judgement too. I feel judgement by other moms over everything from how I feed my child to my choice of discipline methods. I feel judgement from relatives who think my methods of raising a child are ridiculous because "this is what I did with my kids 20-50 years ago and they turned out just fine" and more importantly, why aren't I having more? And yes, I even feel judgement from childless friends who are unimpressed with my new set of priorities. It seems like everyone has an opinion when it comes to child-rearing. Nobody is exempt. In short, I don't like being judged either and I have no intention of doing it to you. I can't speak for everyone but as for me, I will never judge you just for making different life choices than me.
6. We REALLY don't want you to tell us how to raise our kids. Sorry. I knew everything about parenting before I had one too. I don't care how many children you babysat in high school - it is definitely not the same. You really don't know how to raise a child if you have never done it (in fact, I'm still not sure I do!), and although we may be too nice to put it in those terms, we are thinking it. Also, we are making mental notes of every time you say "my child will never..." because if/when you do have children someday, we are going to laugh our way through every one of those broken judgmental declarations.
7. We want you to get to know and like our kids. I get it. Not everyone is a "kid person." But just like you drug me to the concert of that random underground band that you were so excited about, I want to share the things that are important to me with you. I don't expect you to change any diapers or babysit but it would be fantastic if you would make an effort to get to know them. After all, if you think I'm exciting, you are going to love my mini-me.
8. I realize that our priorities became vastly different the day I had a child, but that doesn't mean we still don't have common ground. Yes, I roll my eyes at your weekend bender and you roll your eyes at my potty training adventures. But turns out, there was a reason why we were friends to begin with. Let's try to remember what we have in common instead of how different we have become.