I am an extremely busy mother of two, who also happens to be employed outside of the home, so being social for me is a special occasion that doesn't happen nearly as often as I'd like. That's why I'm
so beyond thankful for all of my friends, not just the moms, but the non-moms too, because they're the ones that keep me grounded. I am especially lucky to have a group of non-mom friends that understand the things that non-moms should never say to their mom friends, because yes, that's kind of a big deal.
When I look back on the
smug things I said about parenting before I became a parent, I simultaneously laugh and cringe. I know now that my ignorance was not bliss, but I still snicker at my extreme level of naivety in regards to my own meritless omnipotence. My first year of parenting changed my life in ways I didn't see coming; I learned a lot of lessons that forced me to eat my pre-parent smugness on more than one occasion. Having a baby did more than just change my body, it changed my perspective, too.
Having been the person who was not yet a parent, but assumed she knew
everything there was to know about parenting without having actually experienced it, I understand that there are things that non-parents should never say to parents. Having said a few of the following myself (I know, and I'm completely embarrassed), I am able to heed well-intentioned caution to my non-parent friends not just about the things you shouldn't talk about if you're not a parent, but also the things that non-parents should never say to their friends who are parents:
You're allowed to be exhausted,
of course, but telling a new mom how tired you are when there's a good chance she hasn't slept more than a few hours at a time in a long time, is probably going to make her resent you a little (if not lose her mind). I remember showing up to my friend's kid's first birthday party hungover (before I had kids of my own), and talking about how exhausted I was. I know now that this was obviously super inconsiderate of me, and I cringe when I think about ever being that person. If you're tired, that's totally cool, but maybe we should just all agree to avoid comparing the culprits behind our sleepless nights.
No, not all functions or gatherings or events are kid friendly, but when you tell a parent that something isn't "kid friendly," all we hear you say is, "Leave your stupid kid at home because he or she ruins e
verything." This is obviously an exaggeration, but being a parent already feels isolating enough without having our friends basically tell us that we're not welcome somewhere if we've got our kids in tow.
"Can't You Just Get A Sitter?"
Well, maybe, but maybe not. Finding a babysitter, especially last minute, is never as easy as it sounds
. It involves having to trust another person with your child's life, whether you know the person keeping them or not; It involves planning, and possibly money, not to mention the complete alignment of the stars. Sure, we need to get out and be social and feel like normal humans again, but doing so at the drop of a hat really isn't as easy as people without kids make it sound. If it were, we'd probably show up in public sans kids a little more often.
"I Would Die If I Found Out I Was Pregnant"
Nope, no you wouldn't. Being pregnant isn't a death sentence, and when you tell your friend with kids that finding out you were pregnant would basically be the end of your time here on earth, well, we kind of want to kick you in the shins. It's completely okay if you don't want to ever have kids (and pregnancy doesn't mean you have to become a mother, because we have options now), but try not to make those of us that
do have children feel like our lives are over because of a life-choice we made, because they're not. Our lives are different after kids, yes, but they're certainly not over.
"Where Have You Been, Stranger?"
Oh you know, just
taking care of my kids. I have a friend that asks me this literally every time I see him, and I can't help but to get even more annoyed each time. Like, where the hell do you think I've been? In the wilderness? On an abandoned island hanging out with a volleyball named Wilson? I'm not an abandoned Tom Hanks, sir, I'm a mom, so obviously that's what I've been doing.
"I Know What You Mean, My Puppy (Insert Ridiculous Comparison Between Puppies And Babies Here)"
Puppies are a time consuming, yes, but they're
not babies. Comparing a furry animal that can eat on its own or pee outside (one that doesn't require burping or breastfeeding or doesn't need to be taught, you know, everything about everything) to a baby that needs you every second of every day, just isn't accurate. So saying, "Yeah, I know what you mean about being so tired. I had to get up and let my puppy out at 2:00 in the morning!" is going to make your friend that has kids, and definitely loses sleep every night, want to slap you. Did you check to see if your puppy was breathing every couple of hours? Did you breastfeed your puppy? Did you change your puppy's explosive diaper? No? Then don't compare puppies to babies.
"I Would Never (Insert Thing They Think They Would Never Do If They Had Kids Here)"
Right, you would never let your kids watch too much TV or feed them food that wasn't freshly picked from the organic garden in your back yard or let them pitch a monumental fit in a public place, because you're a parenting expert. We
all were parenting experts before we had kids, myself included, but when good intentions meet reality, we often fall short of our own unrealistic expectations. I consider myself to be a somewhat seasoned parent at this point in my life, and I still don't know what the hell I'm doing some days. Sometimes, my kids eat broccoli for breakfast, and sometimes they get into the dog food, and yes, probably swallow a piece or two. Regardless, they're alive and they're healthy and they're happy (well, most of the time), and I'm no expert, but I think that's all that really matters. Besides, dog food is packed with protein.
What do you mean "no fun?" You don't consider constructing the perfect blanket fort or making water balloons or baking the perfect cookies or being able to quote
Doc McStuffins to be fun? Parents are still fun, it's just that our versions of fun have changed a little since we had kids.
"How Do You Put Up With This All The Time?"
Wine, mostly. Also, surrounding ourselves with friends who don't judge the circus that is life with toddlers.
"Ugh, I Can't Stand Kids"
Really? If you're telling your friend who has kids that you can't stand kids, you're probably a terrible person. Again, if you don't want kids, that's totally cool and understandable, but don't express that hearing kids cry makes your ovaries shrivel up and die to your friend that has kids. First of all, rude. Second, being a parent is tough, and by telling someone with kids that you can't stand kids, it makes that parent feel like you pity her life; like her days disgust you, and like she's unworthy of your holiness because she decided to start a family. We've got different lives, sure, but that doesn't mean that we can't find common ground and try to understand one another. Women with and without kids need all the support they can get, so supporting one another despite our differences is something we should all be willing and able to do.