As a mom, you've learned that constant judgment and mom-shaming come with the territory. Everywhere you look, there's someone or something claiming that you're in the wrong. While I'd typically encourage moms to turn a blind eye to the criticism, there are some instances in which examining your own habits might be beneficial... like the surprising things you're doing that annoy non-mom friends. Of course you don't do and say these things to be malicious — and in some cases, you can't even help it — but they might end up turning off some of your closest allies.
I'm in a funny stage of life. While a handful of my friends are getting married and having children, a large majority of my friends are still playing the field and focusing on other things. My social media feeds are a funny mix of potty-training and party posts. I'm pregnant, so while I'm drawn to the baby pics, I'm not so far removed from the other side that I forget what it's like. I have no doubt that I'll be guilty of my fair share of these things, but I'm hoping I'll remain cognizant of what it's like to be a non-mom while I myself am in the depths of parenthood.
1. Acting Like You're The Only Busy Person In The World
There was a time not too long ago that I was a newlywed juggling four different writing jobs, a job at a fitness studio, a social media job, and a job at a boutique. I enjoyed everything I did, but was certainly busy trying to stay afloat while facing the steep California cost of living.
One day, while chatting with an acquaintance, she mentioned she was totally swamped with all of her various responsibilities. Thinking we were having pleasant small talk, I responded, "Girl, I can relate!" She paused for a second and said, "You don't have a child though, do you? I don't think you've every actually been busy." Then she laughed and added, "You're not even a real adult." I was taken aback. Sure, maybe I wasn't as busy as a working mom, but it felt like a very condescending and inappropriate remark.
2. Repeatedly Interrupting Conversations For Your Child
Let me preface this by saying: If you're going to be friends with a mom, you've got to be patient with some interruptions. Children need their mom, and often times it can't wait. However... there are some situations that are simply frustrating for non-parents, particularly when the kids are a bit older and more self-sufficient.
Here's a scenario. You're at a friend or relative's house for dinner, and your kids are playing while you enjoy your meal. Mid-meal, your child approaches with a book. "Mom, can you read to me?" It's a sweet request, but an older child can understand the answer, "Of course, but you'll have to wait until I'm done having my dinner." Interrupting meals and conversations for your child's every little request can become incredibly annoying.
3. Strategically Skipping Out On Chores To Play With Your Child
If your child has a diaper blowout, a meltdown, needs to eat, or needs to go to bed, that's understandable. Your child's schedule needs to come first sometimes, and the people you're with can step up and do the dishes or run the errands or whatever else needs to be done.
That said, if you enjoy a lovely, home-cooked meal with friends and leave everyone else to do the dishes while you play dolls with your daughter, they're going to get a little ticked off. I think most people would rather play than pitch in, but your child isn't your get-out-of-jail-free card.
4. Allowing Your Child To Run Wild In Public
Kids are unpredictable. They have wild temper tantrums in public, they dart into crowds in the blink of an eye, they spill things, and they generally keep you in your toes. If someone doesn't understand that... well, quite frankly, they don't understand kids. However, there are few things more frustrating than a parent who has thrown up their hands and said, "Do whatever you want" when it's directly affecting the people around them.
A crying toddler in a restaurant is one thing. A toddler that is banging silverware on the table nonstop, running into waiters with platters of food, and bothering other patrons is another. In my non-mom days, I used to get massive anxiety watching kids wreak havoc in public as their moms sat idly by. It was even worse when their kid was wreaking havoc on my home. You don't have to have a perfect kid, but a little effort is appreciated!
5. Bombarding Them With Photos and Videos
Everything your baby does is perfect and wonderful and adorable of course, but your non-mom friends don't need to see a three-minute video of your little one pooping on the potty or babbling into your iPhone camera. A few short and sweet videos are great, and an adorable photo here and there is appreciated, but no one really needs 47 unread text messages or a phone shoved in their face.
Personally, I'm a big fan of making private social media accounts for kiddos (if you feel comfortable having them online at all). I have a few friends who have done this and people can opt-in for baby spam, if they want. It's the perfect way to share your child's sweetness with your loved ones without flooding them with nonstop photos and videos.
6. Repeatedly Telling Them They "Don't Understand"
Often times, non-moms don't understand. They don't know what it's like to be up all night with a sick baby, or the struggles of sending your child off to school for the first time. They don't need to repeatedly be told that they're clueless and can't possibly understand where you're coming from. It gets to a point where it feels condescending and unnecessary.
That said... if they're repeatedly inserting themselves in your business and offering unsolicited advice then heck yeah, remind them that they don't understand. No one can stand that.
7. Asking Why They Don't Have Kids (And Telling Them They'll Want Them Someday)
As a general rule of thumb, never ask anyone why they are childless. You have no idea if they're struggling with infertility or pregnancy loss, and it's really none of your business if they choose to procreate or not. Not everyone wants a child, and not everyone can have a child.
Additionally, some women have known their entire lives that they don't want to have children, and it's important to respect their decision. Don't smile and tell them they'll change their minds. Maybe they will, maybe they won't, and it's still none of your business.
8. Consistently Complaining About Your Kids
Moms are entitled to vent about their kids when they're being monsters, and it's only human to blow off a little steam. A nonstop stream of complaints to everyone who'll listen, however, is pretty dang annoying.
The same woman who told me I wasn't a real adult and had no idea what it was like to be busy was also guilty of this habit. Every time I saw her, I braced myself for the barrage of grievances I was about to listen to. Her toddler never slept, never behaved, never ate... in fact, I couldn't tell you one thing she liked about him to this day. There was only so much sympathy I could offer until I reminded her that I wasn't the one who got her pregnant, and couldn't apologize much more.
9. Explaining That Their Pets Are Not Real Kids
Your non-mom friends know their fur kids are not real kids. They have eyes and logical reasoning. However, it's the closest thing they have and sometimes, it's the only thing they can offer to a child-centric conversation. You don't need to remind them that the non-human covered in hair that came from the local shelter is not their biological child, so don't bother.
On that note, I have a loved one who desperately wanted children but cannot have her own. Her pups have filled a major void in her life, and they bring her more joy than anything else. Lecturing her about how they aren't "real kids" is an offensive reminder of what she never got.
10. Turning Things Into A Competition
Moms are superheroes who are constantly underslept and overworked. There's no question about that. You don't need to remind every non-parent who mentions they're tired or stressed or busy that you're more tired or stressed or busy. It's not a competition, and that habit won't make you any friends.
It's normal and natural for your priorities to change as you have children, and it's also normal and natural to drift away from friends who have different life experiences. If a non-mom friend makes you feel bad about everything you do and say, there is probably no place for them in your life anymore. However, there is always room to improve your own habits and behaviors to prevent accidentally alienating or annoying non-mom friends who genuinely love you.