One of the things that drives me bat shit crazy is how it is assumed that the husband and I just sit around on large wads of cash, doing absolutely nothing other than sipping on wine and watching Netflix. If you are suspicious about how an imaginary scenario can be so specific, it is simply because I basically strung together everything that has ever been asked about us simply because we don’t have kids.
It may come as a surprise, but we still have full-time jobs, bills to pay, taxes to worry about, medical appointments and other “fun” adulting things to do even though we don’t have to care for a tiny human. Whether it is at work or with extended family or with friends, there is always this awkward conversation where people try and guess what we do with all our “free” time or why do we need time off since we anyway don’t have “serious commitments” like children.
The expectation to stay on longer at work, to show up for family stuff you didn’t sign up for, to cover for family friends is sometimes flattering, I mean who doesn’t like feeling wanted?! But the assumption that either of us are twiddling thumbs or don’t need to consciously carve out personal time is infuriating.
Statements like “You won’t understand, you do not have kids” or “you don’t know exhaustion until you have had sleepless nights with a baby” are simply exclusionary. Yes, I may not have the life experience of raising a human but neither am I sitting to watch paint dry. I am not taking away from the hard work that goes into parenting but when you look around you will see that everyone is trying. Working moms/dads, stay-at-home moms/dads, people with aging/ailing parents, people trying to pay off medical bills, people straddled with loans working different jobs, you name it. Some struggles are just less apparent than others.
I have read many articles such as this one or this one – some more kind than the others but most in a similar vein. Across many cultures where busyness is now a status symbol, it is hard for me to not see what you do as taking a moral high ground simply by being a parent. Feel free to vent and cry, I want to be there for you. But don’t pinch my cheeks and sigh when I offer help. Not advice – actual help. If someone is just offering you advice, feel free to kick them in their most vulnerable area.
Parenting is the most non-secret, secret club. Not being able to break into this club sucks big time and many times is bloody lonely. I love hearing about your kids, seeing their pictures – truly. I sympathize with your pregnancy struggles – really do. But I have been in enough situations where not being a member of this club keeps me out of so many conversations. I am not saying don’t have conversations on birth plans, how much/how little sleep your little one is getting or about switching from breastfeeding to formula or preschool selections or arranging for childcare. They are important to you, you are important to me therefore they are important to me. I am not blaming anyone at the slightest but for the sake of other women like me; I want to also say that many of us feel left out beyond a point. Also, it sucks when you chuckle or patronizingly smile when we share something from work or about struggling relationships.
All I want to say is that I may never understand what you are going through but I want to, and I am working on it. All I am asking for are two things:
1) Please return the favour and respect my life experiences as well
2) Allow and trust me to help you so that I can be/do better