My Musings

Self-Awareness For Parents

Baby brain (noun): A state of impaired memory, concentration, or mental agility supposedly experienced during pregnancy or after giving birth.

Disclaimer: I wrote this post during an angry phase last year. I do stand by it, it’s still true. I’m just aware that I sent it to a friend who was in my same taken-for-granted boat, so we could wallow in it together. I could rewrite it, I could be kinder, but I promised you the BRUTH. So here it is, warts and all.

Just a few reminders for people with children, who – despite being without children for the majority of their lives (please do the maths as a reminder, if necessary) – have forgotten what it’s like to NOT have children.

PRESENTS: Have you instilled a “just buy presents for the children rule?” Have you thought about whether there are couples or single people without children? Think it all comes out in the long term? It doesn’t. Because what about those who don’t or can’t have children? What about those who have bought for your children for YEARS, without ever receiving a gift from you? Have you thought about how the childless giver of gifts may feel? If not, shame on you. I really don’t understand how you can keep taking, year after year. Do you not WANT to do something nice in return?

QUALITY TIME: Do you recall how distracting children can be? Of course you do, you’ve had disjointed conversations since they arrived. Can you therefore perhaps empathise with those who aren’t used to this? Could you perhaps put some time aside for them, as they have put some time aside for you? As much as they adore your children – and they DO – it’s just not the same as time with just you. It’s a compliment. Could you perhaps leave your child with a babysitter occasionally? (Note the occasionally) Impossible? Not worth it? Your kids come first? Prepare to lose some childless friends, but please acknowledge that it’s not through their lack of empathy, but perhaps through yours. It’s your choice.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: It’s not all as bad as it sounds for childless people, it’s simple really. We just want you to acknowledge that we often do some things we don’t have to do, and then – with your realising it – we actually won’t mind doing it. That’s the secret, it’s that simple. However, just assuming that we want to be at soft play, or are happy to travel to you again, or don’t mind moving dinner to 5pm, or letting the kids stay up during an adult evening or that we want to be involved in bath time, that’s the annoying bit: when people don’t acknowledge that you’re choosing to do something for them (and which likely, they wouldn’t do for you, especially if they’d been childless for years, like I have).

WEEKENDS: Think back to when you were a single or a childless couple. Did the idea of soft play or the park or the farm, fill you with glee? Is that how you spent your time? If not, spare a thought for those who still don’t want/have to do that. And while we’re here, hats off to the parents who don’t inflict this on their childless friends.

THE AGE OF SANITISING: Do you know how rude it is when you abruptly tell people to wash, sanitise their hands or to not to kiss your baby? I’m married to a medic, I understand that there are health risks, and I agree to some extent. Also, I get it: your baby, your rules. BUT there are NICE ways to ask this of people (people who are usually guests remember, who have come out of their way to see you, out of fondness for you and your child, let’s not forget. Their INTENT was not to bring germs into your home). Also, I have LOTS of friends who are both parents and doctors, something like 20% of the guests at my wedding were doctors, and not ONE of them has ever asked me to not do any of the above – surely that’s something to think about. If you don’t want me to touch your baby, have a nice life, I may or may not see you until they’re an adult and you’re done over-parenting. Oh or perhaps when you’re on child number two and much less protective; whichever comes first. And by the way, that disgusting toy they’ve dropped a million times and you don’t mind them putting back in their mouth? You might want to think about addressing THAT. Especially given that inanimate objects don’t have feelings.

SELFISH OR SELFLESS? Putting your child first all the time, is both selfless and selfish. It’s a choice and it’s not a right or wrong one. Dismissing all of the above in an eye roll and a “you don’t understand” or “wait until it’s your turn”, I think that’s less clear cut. Because I have lots of wonderful friends who are parents and have tonnes of self-awareness. Who are selfless and self-aware. So if my time comes, I have my role models. The irony of it is, all parents are role models, yet here I am, compelled to write this message.

All of this in isolation is quite bearable and humorous. But imagine if most couples with children treated you like this. Hmm less bearable, and much less funny, right? Perhaps something to think about when you repost your next “don’t kiss my baby” article from the Sun newspaper.

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