I recently came upon a screed I found rather horrifying. It is titled “10 Things I Hate So Much It Destroys My Happiness.” First of all, if you hate something so much it literally destroys your happiness, you may want to see a therapist. You should be able to hate things and still be happy. But honestly that’s completely beside the point. I get that the title is hyperbole. I think I’m just feeling a bit nitpicky because . . . well. You shall see.
I’m not going to cover each of the ten items. I’ll go for some select ones.
2) people who are not moms who complain to me they are tired, or that they can’t do something because they need to sleep. You are not tired. You don’t know what tired is. That is actually a feeling you have not experienced.
First of all, does the author realize how condescending this is? But also, I am so over this sort of “mommy supremacy.” No, I’m sorry, but people who are not moms do get tired too. For real. Also, dads. It’s true, parenting is a lot of work, and kids can be serious sleep impediments. But you know what? Several years ago, my sister, who is not a mother, spent weeks complaining about her puppies’ sleep habits, because they would wake at an ungodly hour and keep her up the rest of the night when she had work in the morning. So, no, sorry, there are other things that impede sleep besides babies. Really.
3) similarly, people who complain that work is killing them or they had a too-long day at work. newsflash: your work is OPTIONAL. It may not feel that way, but that’s because you have a super narrow, childless, probably male perspective on things. You don’t have to work long days. You don’t have to work at all. You can quit. You can call in sick. You can take a bathroom break. You don’t know what being overworked is. Next.
What even is this? Last time I checked eating wasn’t optional, and that means working isn’t optional either. Also, I find this idea that parenting is uniquely difficult and that day jobs can’t even compare incredibly offensive to migrant farm workers, sweat shop laborers, and so many others. Yes, parenting is hard work! It can be very demanding. But . . . no. It is not that hard. And frankly, if parenting really is that hard, you may want to take a step back and reassess.
Also, if you’re not a parent and hope to be one someday, please don’t let this scare you off. Parenting is a lot of work and a big commitment, but it’s honestly not that bad. Once kids get to the stage where they can communicate with you and regulate their own bowel movements, it’s really pretty awesome.
Reading this, I have to wonder why the author had kids to begin with. She certainly doesn’t make parenting sound very attractive! It reads as though she regrets her decision and has to find a way to make herself feel superior to everyone else to make up for it.
5) people who want to have appointments without children. Really, it’s never going to happen. I love especially when they insist, and try to make it seem like it’s for your benefit, when really it’s all them, since I never don’t have children on me ever. “What do you mean you always have them? What about when you take breaks?” Silence. “You don’t take breaks? Come on, like, when you take your you time, or go to Pilates?” More silence. Clearly this one has read all the Orange County parenting blogs. “It’s not like it’s aaaalways. I’m sure there are times you are kid free and we can book something.” I poop with children on my lap. I sower with children. I sleep with children. I sometimes brush my teeth with one hand while wiping a butt with the other hand and kicking matching pajamas out of a drawer at my other kid with my feet. I have nightmares, with children. “Well, let me know, and we can reschedule when you have a time when they won’t be around.” Sure, let’s book that for 20 years from now.
Uh . . . wow.
Look, not having any “me” time is not something to brag about. Everyone needs personal time to recharge. Seriously, this author seems to think that not having time away from her kids, ever, makes her some sort of super-parent. Nope. That’s not how it works. A parent not having “me” time to recharge is not just bad for the parent, it’s also bad for the children. We as parents need to make sure our own needs are met, or we will be perpetually stressed out and frazzled and that’s really really not any good for our kids. If the author of this piece honestly never has any “me” time, well, I worry for her and her children.
But let’s look beyond that for a moment. The author may be a single parent, but I suspect, from the way the piece is written, that she is not. And so I have to wonder—why can’t she get her partner to take care of the kids sometimes, so she can have a break? I mean, I totally get the feeling of constantly having your kids with you. I have spent more than my fair share of time grocery shopping with kids, thinking about how much faster this would go if only I didn’t have them with me. And perhaps my partner is an anomaly with his willingness to pitch in with watching the kids, not as a favor but simply because he, too, is their parent.
8) people who call me on the phone and its not because their house is on fire. “Hey, thought I’d call and see how it’s going!” Seriously. You realize that you pulled me away from what I was doing, completely throwing off my perfect multitasking schedule, and that in the 60 seconds it takes me to tell you that I actually have a life and I can’t “chat,” the kids will have completely destroyed the house, covered themselves in various glittery art supplies or body fluids, and caused at least two physical injuries, at least one of which is going to be very difficult to explain to the baffled paramedics without using strange, made up sign language. So just text me and be grateful if I respond this week. Or actually come over here and “chat” so I can put you to work.
Does this woman even have friends? And if so, how?!
Sometimes when I was a kid my mom would call my dad on the phone during the day just so that she could talk to another adult. That was it. She would say, “I just needed to hear another adult voice!” Other times she would spend thirty minutes or an hour talking on the phone to a relative or a friend. She needed the break. I’ve felt the same way myself, when stuck in the house with just the kids for too long. I’ll call a friend and talk about how our lives are going and end up feeling much calmer and more able to handle another activity with the kids.
Speaking of the kids, if you cannot leave your children alone for sixty seconds without them injuring themselves so badly you need to call the paramedics, something is seriously wrong. Yes, kids can make sometimes make phone calls challenging! Just this evening I was trying to talk to someone on the phone while both children were demanding my attention. But when that happens, it’s really not that hard to say “Hey, I have to go, I’ll call you back later, okay?” Really. It isn’t. I promise.
10) people who wonder why I would go and have another kid when my life is so busy. Well, because as busy as I am, all of this actually has meaning. I am the most efficient, amazing, organized, knowledgeable, fair, and compassionate person I know. I know, it’s a lot to take in. But when I compare that to the previous years I spent being the moronic, lazy person who questioned the validity and intensity of the career that is motherhood in pursuit of things I thought were “real work,” I realize how stupid and meaningless my life was, and I wouldn’t trade current chaos for anything. Just don’t assume a mother is overreacting when she says your’e stupid and lazy. You probably are. And you should absolutely enjoy being stupid and lazy as much as you possibly can, because there are mothers out there making that possible for you.
Yes, you read that right. The author proclaims that she is the most compassionate person she knows, and then she goes on to call people without children stupid and lazy and to suggest that their lives are meaningless. That is basically the opposite of being compassionate. And actually, some of the most compassionate people I know do not have children. Having children does not make one compassionate. It also does not suddenly give one’s life meaning. Ugh, ugh, ugh, this whole paragraph is just horrid.
I don’t understand what mothers like this author think they’re doing when they write things like this. Do they not realize that they make parenting sound incredibly unattractive, and come across as condescending, mean, and worse? They also actively work to create a wall between parents and non-parents. That wall is not helpful in the least. We’re all just people, parents and non-parents alike. Some of us happen to be raising new little people, and others of us focus that time and energy elsewhere. That doesn’t make any of us better from any other of us.
To all of you who are parents out there, aren’t you glad that parenting is nowhere near as terrible as this author makes it sound?! I mean yes, it’s a lot of work, but it’s possible to be a parent and still retain a sense of self, and of being. And I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m feeling really appreciative of my “me” time right now!
And to all of you who are not parents, I’d like to apologize on the behalf of this author and every other similarly condescending and mean-spirited parent you come upon as you go about your life. I realize I can’t actually apologize in their places, but I can at least say that I am sorry you have to put up with that. Because I am.