I’m going to tell you something that I wished someone would have told me one day, long ago. If you are newly pregnant, newly with child, or a parent at home with 4 kids, listen up.
There is a difference between you, a parent, and your childless friends. I don’t care what anyone says otherwise. I’m so tired of parents feeling like they need to hold up this front to prove to their childless friends they are no different. That person or couple could be childless due to their own choice or not, it doesn’t matter, but there is a line that will be drawn in the sand at some point.
Neither of us are better or owed more but there are just some things we will never understand about the other because we don’t fill those shoes. I have several childless friends and they will often say “well, if I had a kid…” Sometimes I can say they hit the nail on the head and other times I quietly think to myself “You have zero idea.” Because the truth is, they don’t. There is no way for them to know. Just like I have no idea what a childless life would be like for me now.
Another fact, those of us with kiddos, you can’t always keep up with those childless friends and couples and that’s okay. There are different priorities, different life goals, different daily worries. I have a friend that brunches with her man for 6 hours every Sunday, in the city, until she is hammered and they find their way home to have sex and sleep all afternoon. They get annoyed I can’t find the time to join them. I’m not even going to try that one, sorry, and that is okay. They sure don’t want to join me for a day at the children’s museum during winter break. Totally cool, I don’t really want to be there either.
They aren’t going to know the pangs of being up all night with a sick kiddo and then coming to work and running at normal pace. They won’t understand the marital balance you are trying to create with your spouse as a significant other and parent. They don’t understand the need to run 15 errands over your lunch break. They will often roll their eyes at your nap time schedule and the very reasons you seriously need to work around that precious time.
And it is okay. They don’t have to get it.
Let that go.
Just like I have zero idea how the hell my friend does it with 10, yes 10, kids. I have no idea how my other friend handles four kids and two baby daddies. I have no idea how another friend is straight single mamma with no baby daddy to speak of. Sometimes we just have to accept that we aren’t going to be able to have everyone see our point of view and we don’t have to understand theirs.
Instead, when you need to discuss sleep regressions and potty training, meet up with another mamma. When you want to discuss everything but your children, meet up with the childless couple. When you have a yearning for the premarital days, go out with that single friend and ask them about their dating life. Look at those living a little bit of a different life from us as an escape from our own. A way to see the world through a different lens, if we only live through it vicariously.
One thought on “Parents Versus Non-Parents”
I couldn’t agree with this post more! Recently I left H at home with E and drove an hour and a half to join some of my oldest friends for a birthday brew pub beer crawl and I truly noticed how the evening went and it just seemed to go smoothly without thinking. If I wanted to talk kids, I talked to one friend who is a relatively new mom or the friend trying to conceive her first with her new husband. If I wanted to talk anything BUT kids, I talked with my sister and other old friend who doesn’t want kids. If I wanted to talk about weird “dude things” i talked to the husbands who were along. And nobody noticed or cared that at points we were a little segregated because of conversation topics.
One thing I would desperately wish for if a genie offered me three wishes is for those without kids to just have a tiny understanding about how different life is functioning with the low gas light on some days and not being able to simply curl up on the couch when home from work and not a care in the world. I wouldn’t mind a little understanding and appreciation for how tough that life can be. I don’t have many friends with kids and I often feel a little tossed aside when I talk about the perils of life with a toddler and full time job when all I’m looking for is even a simple nod of the head in understanding. Mama just needs to vent every now and then and not have “well you chose to have a kid so you really can’t complain now.” thrown back at me!
I definitely don’t try to keep up with my kid-less friends and that may be the reason that those friendships have sort of started to drift away a little. But those are the friendships where the kid-less folks don’t understand that I can’t do things at the drop of a hat and don’t attempt to help work around it a bit so I can still join. Because I totally want to join! It’s the friends who may not have kids but know that scheduling is crazy and they may not see me for a few months who are the important ones I’ve kept around. I have a small circle of friends but it’s a good one!