Not that all “non breeders” are bad people. Far from it. But the expectation that they know better than a parent does how to raise their kids runs high among the kid-free crowd.
And somehow, for all our protestations that we might know our kids a little better than they do, comes the insistence that, hey, you can bring your kid out to the bar at 11 p.m. . . . they’ll just sleep in their carrier! Or, in the case of Rachel Odell Walker, the insistence that an eight-month-old belongs on a three mile hike (with a 2,000 foot vertical climb).
I won’t rip Walker to shreds, because she does that to herself in her essay. She realized she was a bit of a jerk, and she apologized. It happens to the best of us.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of non-breeders who are still stuck in the first half of Walker’s essay. They still think we’re staying home with our kids because we’re Debbie Downer. As Walker says, “I believed she could reverse her negativity and stop focusing focus on
difficult things with a mixture of personal will, therapy, and
In a way, you can’t blame them. If you don’t have kids, you don’t think about the money it costs to hire a sitter. You don’t have to.
If you don’t have kids, you don’t think about the aftermath of a night out on the town, of getting up at 5 a.m. with our three-year-old when you didn’t crawl into bed until 2 a.m. because the child doesn’t understand Mommy wants to sleep. You don’t think about the conscious decision to abstain from alcohol because you’re breastfeeding.
You don’t think about the realities of trying to keep a small child occupied and quiet in a restaurant. Or the fact that that small child has a right to NOT be cooped up in a highchair just because Mommy and Daddy want a night out on the town.
It’s why so many of us have lost touch with friends we held near and dear before the baby days. It’s important that we as parents respect their lifestyles (don’t nag on them for not having kids, for cripes sake, and don’t expect them to love, love, love our kids every minute of every day), but it’s just as important that they get us.
That they GET that sometimes, it’s a lot easier for them to come to OUR houses because we don’t have to pack the trunk full of a porta-crib, diaper bag, box of toys, etc. just to have a night out. That we aren’t being petulant – just realistic. That kids aren’t accessories.
The chief criticism I hear for parents from non-parents is that we change our lives too much after the baby comes along. Yes, we change our lives. But how can we not? Because we are now responsible for someone’s entire life. Is there any other responsibility so big? For that matter, would you tell an airplane pilot he’s being a big party pooper because he opts out on “the fun” the night before he’s supposed to fly a plane full of people’s lives?
I’m not asking my friends to make major sacrifices just because I have a kid. They can go out and do their own thing, have their own fun on their time. It’s true, I had this child; not them. They don’t even have to like my child. But if non-breeders value the person underneath the new parent veil, they will realize, if they want time with us, they need to meet us in the middle.