It’s all I seem to be hearing these days. Ok maybe not in those exact words. But if I were to summarize? HAVING KIDS IS THE WORST.
As a single person, I’m nominating myself as the mouthpiece for the single masses when I say to you, parents:
STOP SCARING US.
Over and over we’re pushed toward marriage and babies. It’s THE ULTIMATE. It’s THE PINNACLE. It’s THE GIFT LIKE NO OTHER. YOUR LIFE ISN’T COMPLETE UNTIL YOU’VE RAISED A CHILD. These messages are pervasive from the time we can comprehend words. But the messages I’ve been hearing lately sound a lot different…
I think about the middle of the last century, when it was expected for women to sit quietly and not complain about all the work that was required of them as a wives and mothers. Maybe fewer people in general complained about their lives back then? I’m not sure. But something about the recent decade, with the mommy blogs and the TV shows about parenting, there’s this wave of brutal honesty coming from the mouths of parents. Now hear me when I say–for the sake of parents--I think this is a REALLY good thing. A very good thing. Commiserating is important. I believe it. But as a childless outsider? It’s terrifying.
- IT’S THE HARDEST JOB. HARDER THAN ANY JOB YOU COULD HAVE, SINGLE PERSON. I WIN.
- MY AFTERNOONS ARE MISERABLE.
- MY KID HASN’T NAPPED IN FIVE WEEKS. I HAVEN’T SLEPT IN A YEAR.
- I CONSTANTLY HAVE THE DAYCARE SICKNESS.
- SHE’S BEEN CRYING FOR DAYS.
- I’M IN TEARS EVERY NIGHT.
- HE WON’T EAT ANYTHING BUT PEAS AND HIS TONGUE IS ALWAYS GREEN.
- I HAVEN’T EATEN DINNER IN MONTHS.
- I’M NOTHING BUT A MILK MACHINE.
- MY KID TAKES HIS PANTS OFF IN PUBLIC.
- MY HUSBAND/WIFE AND I BARELY SPEAK BECAUSE WE ONLY SPEAK TO THE KIDS.
- I ALMOST PASSED OUT BECAUSE I FORGOT TO DRINK WATER ALL DAY.
- I CAN’T LEAVE THE HOUSE BECAUSE THERE’S TOO MUCH GEAR TO BRING ALONG.
- I HAVEN’T SEEN MY SINGLE FRIENDS IN MONTHS.
- I WOKE UP WITH POOP ON MY FACE.
- SHE’LL ONLY PEE ON THE POTTY IF I HOLD HER HAND SO I HAVE TO DROP EVERYTHING EVERY HOUR.
- MY KID ATE THE DOG’S FOOD THEN THREW UP ALL NIGHT. I TURNED AROUND FOR ONE SECOND!
If there’s truth in the chatter I’m hearing–being a parent sounds SO AWFUL.
What’s interesting is, I like kids. They can be really funny. And if they think you’re cool? They’re a great self-esteem booster. “Read this book to me, Andrea!” Um, OK! Yay! A big goodbye hug from a little girl in a big pink coat and heart-shaped sunglasses? COME ON. Irresistible. I LOVE my friends’ kids. Like, really love them. If I had a budget to buy them toys every time I was going to see them, I would. I love tickling them and making them laugh and I even try to find little ways to help my Momma friends when I’m around…distracting the kid so they can eat a little more than they usually do, clearing plates, distracting the kids again, etc. And I have a TON of grace for my Momma friends that I don’t get to see that often because well–they’re Mommas. And believe me–I realize these kids are partially so awesome because I get to leave them with their parents when they have a freakout and I can go on with my life. They’re not my kids.
But all of the complaining… I mean, it makes me seriously question whether or not I want to have kids at all someday. I understand there being freedom in confessing the dark parts of your journey, and connecting with someone who GETS IT. But the way it’s been framed recently makes it sound like the worst decision you could ever make. From what I’ve gathered, you never get to sleep, you lose your identity, you don’t get to have friends, you don’t get to have hobbies, you don’t get to listen to your music anymore because it always has to be the kid’s favorite CD, you don’t get to eat, you don’t get to sleep, the kid.runs.the.show.
Maybe I’m selfish. Maybe wanting to maintain those things for my life is selfish. But I just want to say this:
Make me understand why it’s the BEST decision you ever made.
Put that into words.
Next time you feel like opening the floodgates to complain-town–instead, spill over with love for your kids and tell me all the poop, tears, exhaustion, sickness, hunger, emptiness, anxiety, worry, financial hardship, loneliness, desperation, and pain are worth it. Is it worth it?
Now…I’m no dummy. You’re all parents and you’re not going to EVER say–No, it’s not worth it. I shouldn’t have had kids. I regret it. Because that would be horrible. And I know a lot of you are going to be tempted to save face in front of other parents and wax poetic about the loveliness that is being a “Mommy” or “Daddy” and how your life really didn’t have purpose until you had kids. I get that. I just want a shift in the conversation. Is it really all bad?
I also realize that this is probably a separation point for me as a single person. Probably, as much as I disdain these types of statements, something I just can’t understand unless I’ve been a parent. I know there are two clubs. People who have kids and those who don’t. And those of us who don’t have kids are often told by those who do have kids that, “They’re doing the hardest job.” I just want to congratulate you, in fact, I’ve been practicing my single-person clap so I can applaud you. Here it is:
Ok. I feel kind of bad. I’m genuinely sorry for the sarcasm.
I’m VERY happy for you. (Really. I promise the sarcasm wave has ended.)
But if it’s hard? I’m not going to congratulate you for your martyrdom. Because you made the conscious decision to have kids. (Well, most of you did…) 🙂
What I am going to do is be your friend, help out when I can, miss you when I can’t see you, understand when I don’t see you for weeks on end, love you through it, and try to learn from you in case I ever…decide to have kids. Heaven help me.