Before I had children, I lived in my own, quiet little bubble. I'm sure it's different for everyone but, for me, all the times I complained about what I now believe to be minuscule problems, were unnecessary. Who cares which taco place my partner and I argued about eating at or how many days until our next romantic getaway? I did. But compared to the decisions I make now, as a mom, none of that matters. As a working mother of two, I've realized that there are things friends, family, and coworkers without kids can never understand about life with kids and because I was one of them (a long time ago), I sort of get it.
I had my first child when I was 24-years-old and just prior to the pregnancy, I worked several different places to make ends meet. At the time I honestly couldn't fathom caring for, or even paying for, another human being. Life is expensive for one person, so I didn't even want to think about how steep the price would be to keep two people alive and happy and thriving. Then pregnancy happened — a pregnancy my partner and I weren't planning for, by the way — and before I knew it, I had a baby.
I'm grateful now for the beautiful surprise that was that pregnancy and, since then, I've learned a lot (to say the least). Which is why, honestly, I can't fault coworkers for not understanding what life is like with a baby. After all, experience is the best teacher. So, with that being said, here are just a few of things your coworkers without kids can never understand about your life (that is, if and/or when they end up becoming a parent themselves).
You're Tired In A Way That Defies Logic And Science
It always tickles me to hear when a coworker tells me how tired they are from doing this thing or that thing. Even the young college girl at the local coffee shop wanes about feeling "beyond exhausted" on a daily basis. I'm pretty sure, as a parent, I know exhaustion and we're not talking about the same thing, my friends.
Everyone's tired to some degree because, well, life. I also recognize living without human appendages can be equally draining at times (I've been there, too), but I can say, without a freakin' doubt, this next level of continual, never-ending-seriously-dead-fatigue was only understood after I popped out my first baby. #Truth
A Sick Day Isn't A Vacation
Being sick when you're a mom is the worst. If I call into my place of employment, you can be damn sure I'm not playing hooky and this isn't for "fun." What I'm really doing is all the usual mom stuff and wrestling a fever on top of it. I'm not superwoman so it'd be cool if you didn't assume those days off were to selfishly get some "me time."
Likewise, if my child is sick and I have no sitter to take over so I can get to work, I'm not celebrating or partying while my baby lays in dire straits. Although, when these things are said, it makes me wonder what you're doing with your sick days.
A Vacation Isn't Even A Vacation
I think back on my pre-children vacations rather fondly. I mean, those were the days. While I do love all the quality time I get with my babies, I usually return even more exhausted than before we left. It's just so much prep and planning and work. It's all the little things you wouldn't worry about — like which child will play tablet games for which length of time and who will sleep where because that one might pee the bed and omg will you stop arguing and just have fun already?!
I guarantee my kid-free coworker's vacay is way different than the ones I manage to facilitate.
Your Friday Night Might Look Way Different Than Theirs
In my early 20's, my weekend nights were made for bar-hopping and hanging with my girl friends. I loved figuring out who I was and what I wanted out of life while literally doing whatever the hell I wanted. This isn't to say I don't love being a mother just as much (albeit in a much different way), but if you have kids and your coworkers don't, they probably don't understand that your Friday night plans may include an early bath, a glass of wine, and trashy reality TV that will, inevitably, be interrupted a million times by a toddler's questions or a baby's cries.
In the beginning I felt a little resentful I couldn't do all the things I wanted after a baby but once that exhaustion set in, hard, I'm all good staying in, thanks.
We're Juggling Way Too Many Balls
An accurate representation of my life would be the above. At all times. A coworker without kids might assume I do one thing and then move onto the next. Uh, no. As a mother, I'm always juggling about ten different to-do's whether I have the time (or interest) to actually do them. A lot of times I fail, because isn't realistic to do so many things well, at one time.
However, in the past, my coworkers had this illusion I could do it all. The extra stuff, like all the overtime and attending lots of meetings and non-mom related things, didn't make them blink an eye while I'm over here drowning like "hello?!"
Your Stories Might Primarily Revolve Around Your Children
I'm sorry, I really am. It's just that most of my life is currently enveloped in all things children because they're still so young. I want to be able to tell you a wild story about how I stayed up all night doing something extreme but really it was probably because of my child.
This is me and this is my life and I make no apologies. I don't want to stay up all night or do anything extreme right now. What I can offer you is an occasional story about my cats, instead. Fair?
If Your Child Throws A Fit, You May Do Nothing
We've all seen that child. You know the one — flailing on the grocery store floor while screaming for whatever it is they need or want. Your coworkers might not understand that sometimes that child is your child. Sometimes your child is tired or hungry. Maybe he or she is having "one of those days" where everything triggers a fit of rage and there's nothing you can do to stop it. I'm so sorry to be that mother you might have whispered about — the one who walks away or calmly picks the toddler up as if nothing happened — but I admit it. Parenting is really hard and sometimes I'm too tired to deal with it. #SorryNotSorry
Plans Need To Be Scheduled In Advance
Plans and/or work shifts not scheduled prior to (at least) one or two years beforehand may not be adhered to. The rules are stringent and must be followed at all times because, as a mother, I have to allow for my children's last-minute mess-ups (like forgetting to tell me I volunteered for the next four parties that last all day) that may take up chunks of time not otherwise specified. In other words, if you want me to work or hang, I have to pencil it in.
If you have children, your coworkers may not understand what it's like to carefully plan every moment of your life for the sake of (and what's left of) your sanity. I've had the pleasure of winging it a time or two and all that suffered was everything.
It's Difficult To Cover An Extra Shift
You might really need the extra money and your boss might really need the extra coverage but when you have kids, sometimes you just can't make it work. Your coworkers might condemn you for bailing on them, your boss may not be so generous and silently punish you for the rest of your career, and you might even get down on yourself for letting people down. Unfortunately, sometimes the answer is just no.
Your "Alone"Time Might Be A Trip To The Grocery Store
Yes, coworkers; my special "quiet time" resides between aisles 12 and 13 at the grocery store because it's the only time I could get out of the house (and use the bathroom, and think, and breathe) alone. It's special and it's mine. Don't judge.
Don't get me wrong; I love my children and couldn't imagine a life without them but that doesn't mean friends, coworkers, or even family without children understand what it's like. Doing all the stuff I did before, except now with kids, requires a different thought process than I had previously. Honestly, the biggest thing people may not understand is, now that we know what life is like with kids, we wouldn't have it any other way.