Thursday, December 5, 2013

Confessions of a Childless Wonder

Yep. I said it. I'm a Childless Wonder. Many of my friends and cousins have gone on to get married/start making babies, and all my bloggy friends are "Mommy", "Momma" or "Mom". I'm the one who has yet to get married, or have children. I suppose I'm probably at an age where that is going to happen and I'm not going to lie...I'm starting to feel like an outsider, and some people are quite fond of telling me that I don't understand because I'm not one of the "breeding" crowd. I try really, really hard not to be a Judgy McJudgypants Asshole about it all, but some days not raising an eyebrow is tough. Not to mention, feeling like people treat me as "less" because of their decision to be parents is a challenge. So today, I'm acknowledging all of those little things...the things I don't understand, the things I wish the parents I know would understand (or perhaps I should say remember?), and the little misconceptions. And...if you decide you need to take me out for it, please come for me with an angry mob, pitchforks and all, and burn me at the stake like in the olden days because we witches always appreciate tradition.

I'm totally Bitter sometimes. Don't worry, you don't need to resort to name calling or accusing me of saying the following because I'm jealous. Because in a lot of ways, I really am jealous and bitter. My mother had me at 24, I feel like I'm the late there a Judy Bloom book for adults I can read about this?  I have friends celebrating 5 year anniversaries and sending kids to school. For a long time, I thought I didn't want kids. Now, I'm that woman healing from a terrible 3-year relationship with a man I wouldn't have wanted a family with even if he had been able to give me one and I feel like I've wasted precious time. I'm still not 100% sure I want a family, but when I look at all the little happy families with mommies and daddies and happy little kinders...something in me feels sad. I'm not sure what it is that I feel sad about, but I envy that happiness I see.

I really DO NOT hate Kids.  I actually really like them most of the time, but even kids deserve to have their personal space acknowledged and respected.  I love having little people to show things to and do things like go to the zoo with.  I LOVE Babies.  Wanna know a secret?  I'm a baby rocker (bet you didn't know that, huh?) and when you let me cuddle your little one...I just LOVE it!  But if you're pregnant I will not touch you, nor will I ask to because I consider it an invasion of personal space; I will never say "no" if invited, but I will never ask.  I will also never ask to hold your baby (in case we're not as close as I think we are, you're uncomfortable with everyone holding the baby-especially if you're a first time parent, I don't want to put pressure on you, etc.), but that doesn't mean I don't REALLY want to.  And I will avoid touching your child as a general rule until they're toddlers (or it is necessary) and they reach for me.  I'm trying to show respect, not dislike and I kind of hate it that people think I'm such an Ice Queen for it.

I wish you would just say NO. One of the biggest complaints I hear from parents about Childless Wonders is that we are/can be rude, mean, or nasty when you're unable to attend something or we stop inviting you. I've actually seen some really horrible examples of it, and I have to say...please don't group us all together because we don't all do that or come from that place. I am not the kind of person who expects you to drop everything and run off somewhere with me. My short-notice invitation shouldn't be taken as pressure, insult to your parental status or a half-assed attempt at excluding you. I hate when I go out and do things only to have someone I didn't invite (because I thought they would have their kids) comment on a status update or Facebook photo that they were able to go and were hurt that I didn't at least try to call them. I try so hard to be a considerate friend by trying to engage in wholesome family activities, suggesting things to do after the kids are asleep and when there is something I REALLY want my friends to be there for, I try to give plenty of advance notice.

I will admit that there are people I stopped inviting to things and I stand by the decision. I once asked someone if they were going to an event because I would try and find them to visit for a little bit. She responded by biting my head off and telling me that I needed to remember that she had kids and couldn't run around doing whatever she wanted (it was a parade...I guess I mistakenly thought a parent might take their child to a parade, my bad). I never invited her to anything again, but that decision was based on the fact that we were casual friends, and her rather extreme reaction felt incredibly inappropriate considering I was just offering to drop by and say "hi" not asking her to do anything she might not already be doing if she were going-NOT because she had kids. The other person, I suspect, wanted to end some friendships and was doing so by using their kids as an excuse not to interact/engage with people but would then go make other child-free plans with others. 

To make it very basic, if you're not interested just say "No"...You don't have to treat me like an ass for trying to include you because you have kids, make an excuse, or lead me on if you KNOW you aren't going to try and make it work.  The interaction (my invitation, and your acceptance or refusal) doesn't have to be about your parental status, I'll still be your friend.  It's ok to say "No" if you want, just try and say "Yes" sometimes or issuing your own invitation so I know you're not just waiting for me to "get a clue" and stop calling.

Your time might be more precious to you, but that doesn't make it more valuable than mine.  Maybe this is something I can't possibly understand because I'm not dressing a tiny, fit throwing little being who is pissed off because "something" hurts in her shoe so she won't put them on. But I can't stand it when people who are parents treat me like I don't have obligations/responsibilities just because I don't have kids. 

I once had a physical therapist give me OVER 5 hours worth of walking, exercises, and icing to do at home every night. Then, he asked me if I had kids and when I told him I didn't, he said "Good. So you'll have plenty of time to do all of this". Riiiiiiiight....because I wasn't trying to have a relationship with my boyfriend and his daughter, watching my nephew 2-3 times a week so my sister could go to night school, plus working 2 jobs, and maintaining a household with pets with an injury that left me moving a lot slower than I used to.

I can't even begin to tell you how hurtful it is when people treat me like my time is less valuable than theirs, even more so when I'm generous with my time with you. I will work around your schedule to be your friend. I will come to you if need be. I will invite and accommodate your children (accommodate for lack of a better word). I will be understanding if you're late or something happened at the last minute and I get stood up. I'm that person who thinks it shitty when you have to work on your kid's birthday or during their t-ball game and I'm the one offering to take your hours (even though it might mean working a 12+ hour shift) so you can go.  But please don't treat me like every time overtime is offered I should be the one to step up because my plans can't possibly be more important that yours because I don't have kids. Please don't abuse my time by being ridiculously late when I'm babysitting to try and give you a break without so much as a phone call. I get it...when you're a parent things take longer, you're responsible for others and their messes and your time isn't solely directed at doing what you want to do and when you want to do it. I'm not without wonder, awe, admiration and respect for that. I'm just saying, please don't act like my time, energy, and personal relationships aren't as valuable as yours.

Those pictures and videos creep me out. I try so hard to smile and appreciate your moment because some of them are really beautiful. Someone is going to get offended here and I wish you wouldn't, but as someone without kids (and in spite of knowing how it all works from a medical standpoint), sometimes that stuff still scares the hell out of me. I'm really sorry, but ultrasound photos can be really creepy-especially those 3D ones.  And those videos of your kid kicking around in there?  They convince me that being pregnant is really like that scene from "Alien vs. Predator" when the baby aliens come flying out of the human abdomens.  I'm not even going to acknowledge those people posting a picture of their belly EVERY DAY all "Look at my belly today because I'm wearing a different shirt". 

Your kid is NOT my Life. I probably like them, maybe even love them. I try to remember their special things. But please don't be upset when I don't remember every anniversaries of things like first words, or every single one of their little preferences, or have to ask you for clarity on something. You're their parent, I'm just another person that cares about them. My inability to remember every single detail about them and their little life isn't some kind of statement about how I feel about them. 

Your kid shouldn't be your ENTIRE life either. Things change, you change, and life changes when you become a parent. That doesn't mean that you stop being an individual or a person with thoughts, feelings, opinions or your own general well-being. Please, just like....every 6th Facebook post, say something about yourself. Hell, I'd settle for an opinion about the weather. But when you become a broadcasting system for everything Little Johnny or Susie does, I worry about you and your kid. My cousin has shared that many people complain about his frequent content on his personal Facebook about his kid. And you know what? He's a damn proud father and I'm proud of him for it and I enjoy reading updates about his family. Why doesn't this apply to him? Because he posts photos of his kid, shares funny and witty stories and general updates about things going on in their lives. He ALSO posts about sports, politics, his personal photography and the other people in his household. His Facebook page isn't some creepy digital shrine to every move and poop his kid takes. Being a parent is one of the most incredible jobs and labels you can have, just please don't stop being all of the other awesome things you are (and someday, your kid is going to want to know what kind of an awesome person you are and not just what an awesome parent you are). 

I don't think your kid should be your best friend. I was raised to believe that you shouldn't be your kid's friend. We've all seen THAT parent. It really creeps me out when people put their kid up on some kind of creepy, obsessive, "Fatal Attraction" level pedestal. I've had people tell me that their kid is their entire life and best friend...who tells their kids the same things they tell their best friends?  I think people need other people to relate to, children do not understand adult problems and shouldn't be expected to in any way.  Please, don't ever tell me your kid is your best friend, not only is it strange and creepy but what kind of pressure/expectations are you putting on that kid?

Your child is not a weapon.  I was fortunately raised by two people who loved their children more than they disliked each other. I'm not going to pretend the divorce was all roses. Sometimes I overheard things I shouldn't have, I noticed the tone or the eye rolling that accompanied a statement about the non-present parent. But damn, the things I have seen people say and do to "get back at" the other person just blow my mind and make me sick and I don't understand how having kids with someone else doesn't make you more tolerant of them. I don't care if you don't like them, just don't use your kid to attack them. When you attack the other person, you attack half of the make-up of your own kid. Unless the other person is REALLY horrible, awful, abusive, whatever....suck it up. Treat your kids like an egg...don't throw them at your ex because it will break them.

You picked that bitch. I have this thing about people who bitch about the person they made babies with (even if it is behind their back), specifically the ones who claim they didn't pick the other person to be the parent of their child because they used birth control. They call it "Practicing Safe Sex" because birth control is really something you PRACTICE, it isn't a guarantee. Most birth control is not 100% effective and even if it is...there is always user failure or what they call I.D 10 T errors. So, the minute you choose to practice making babies with someone and practice safe sex, you're taking a risk that they will be the parent of your child. So, just....a little advice (either for your future, or to tell YOUR kids when they're age appropriate): Sex is for making babies. While technology now allows us to have a good time without the intended result of the act, there is still a percentage of a chance of making a baby. Use multiple forms of birth control (seriously, double that shit up) and if you aren't interested in doing that, stop and look at the person really hard and ask yourself if you really want them to be the other parent of your child because it CAN happen. 

Doomsday Parents....WTF? One of the reasons I don't have kids is due to extreme anxiety.  I'd totally be that parent sitting in my car on the street watching my kid at recess. OK, maybe not that extreme, but as a result of being tampered with as a child, being raised on Rescue 911/Cops/America's Most Wanted...I'm a very paranoid adult. All of that paranoia in MY life and I still don't think I would be as crazy as some of the people I've met. Seriously. I understand not being able to leave the kid with "just anyone". I understand calling me all night long on date night to check on the little poop factory you left in my care. But WTF is wrong with people that feel the need to go on a tangent about keeping their kid safe at all costs, "giving their life" for their kid, and what they would do if anyone ever hurt their kid every time their kid comes up in conversation? It's creepy. I get it, it's a parents' job to protect their babies, but I've had people get aggressive, even teary-eyed during rants like this in bars (ironically enough).  I don't understand if this is an outward expression of their internal fears or some kind of over-compensation for their insecurities, but I'm more concerned about the need to verbalize threats of physical violence, paranoia, and "preparedness" towards unknown and presently non-existent "threats" than I am something might actually happen.   I'm very afraid it could turn into one of those situations where a child gets locked in a basement for 24 years, or locked up and forced to haul their elderly parent up the side of a tower via their long hair. Last, but not least, when people go on these insane rants and start getting threatening and scary,  part of me feels like they're trying to imply something or hint at something like they think I'm a threat to their which case, they should stop being friends with me.

Yeah. Like this. 

Your jokes about being a "cat lady in training" kind of hurt sometimes. I know I sometimes make those jokes. But really, it's not my fault I can't find someone to successfully meld genetic material with. I try to laugh, but the idea of ending up like Goldie Hawn in "Death Becomes Her" after being left by her fiance is terrifying to me. I'm fat. I like frosting. I have cats. It could happen and it is scary.

I'm not judging you. You know those moments when you're grocery shopping and one kid is begging/screaming/crying for something and the baby has snot on his face? Yeah...I'm going to notice you, but I'm not usually judging you. I've dealt with kids. I know there are those days where they do everything they can to make you look like the world's dumbest, most awful parent. I will totally admit to thanking whatever powers may be that I'm not in your situation at that moment, but I'm not assuming anything about your kids, or your parenting skills. I genuinely hope something turns your day around, then go back to thinking about whatever is on my plate at that moment.

I'm totally judging you. I WILL, however, judge you for not parenting your kid whatsoever, for situations and circumstances you could change and clearly refuse to, for taking your kid to an inappropriate place, allowing your child to abuse you, smoking in the car (and this coming from a smoker), or being abusive in any way towards your child.

My money doesn't grow on trees either.  I'm happy to buy cookies, popcorn, overpriced wrapping paper, etc., to help out whatever your kid is involved in.  But there is a limit to my "extra" funds and sometimes, I just can't buy.  Please don't make me feel like a horrible person for it.  

I'm not Stupid.  They're doing new studies and have new "rules" for raising children every day; I respect your right to raise your kid however you want, but don't treat me like I'm inexperienced or stupid because I don't have a kid.  But I've wiped asses.  I went to school and was once a State Certified Nursing Assistant.  I have common sense.  Just because I'm not a parent doesn't mean I'm a moron.  Please see this blog for a list of my experience.  

Why the Mommy Hate?  Seeing the "Mommy Wars" over vaccinations, SAHM vs Moms who work outside of the home, breast vs. bottle...I'm sorry, but I've seen women get downright frightening over these issues.  I know I don't "understand", but from the outside...I wish all of the smart, strong women I know could accept that you can't change someone else's beliefs and instead support each other.  Boy, I bet that sounds super green to seasoned parents, huh?  (And I bet somewhere out there, someone is about to direct some of that scary ass Mommy rage at me over this)

I have CRAZY Respect for you.  I've watched a few Parent Wars and the amount of research and reading some people I know do in order to make the best decision for their children (and later use in debates) blows me away.  The seemingly endless patience, the time management skills, diagnosing and fixing a "problem" like an expert, witnessing the little moments between child and parent...sometimes watching you people in action is just amazing. 

I cherish your kiddo too.  I know in the last 5 minutes I've said that your child is not my life, begged you to stop Facebooking everything about them and nothing about you, and called them a poop monster...among other things.  But sometimes, the cute pictures and the great stories really light up my life and make my day.  When you let me "steal" your kid(s) to do fun things, I love it!  I love seeing their little faces light up, and getting to hear the funny little things kids say and do that you get to experience all of the time. 

Ok....that is everything I can think of.  I hope you know how much joy and laughter you and your little one(s) bring into my life, even though I might not always understand you.  And don't worry, if someday I find someone to bond DNA with and "get a clue" about all of these things I don't understand right now, you can TOTALLY rub this in my face.