As a single non-parent, I’m always seeing my parent friends post articles about why we non-parents “just don’t get it.” I know that once you join the Parent Club, your life drastically changes in ways we non-parents couldn’t possibly imagine (trust me, you are constantly reminding us of this), but friendship is a two-way street. Often times, we single people catch the blame: we just don’t know how hard it is. And it’s true! We don’t know! We might never have kids and might never understand the challenges you face as a parent, but I don’t think it’s fair to put all the blame on us.
Here are 5 things you may not have considered:
1. You say things like, “My single friends just don’t understand how much the kids’ schedules dictate my life! I can’t just get up and leave on a whim like they can.”
Right, OK. We get it. It’s easier for us to get up and go. That doesn’t mean we don’t want to see you! That doesn’t mean we won’t want to spend time with your kids. Why not invite us over for a glass of wine and dinner? We can help put the kids to bed and read them stories or at least entertain you while you do so. Sure, having someone new be there during the routine might throw things off a little, but it’s totally doable. I have plenty of friends who get excited for me to come over and help out with bedtime or just hang out while we get the kiddos situated. Then, it’s adult time after they are tucked in. Please don’t just assume that we want to be out at the club or going hogwild on a Tuesday night. Hanging out with your kids brings us joy and we love them because we love you. Invite us over – include us in your schedules! If we really are your friend, we want to be a part of it.
2. You’re always posting articles on social media like “10 Reasons Your Non-Parent Friends Just Don’t Get It!” “25,000 Things a Non-Parent Should NEVER Say to a Parent!” “30 Reasons Your Life as a Non-Parent is Easier Than Mine.”
OK, a few of those are exaggerations, but only slight ones!! Maybe if you chilled out on posting all these damn rules about what I’m allowed to say and not say in front of you, being your friend would be a little easier. I didn’t have to worry about what I was allowed to say to you BEFORE you had kids, so why do I have to stress about it now? If our friendship is so weak we need a rules list of what I’m allowed to say, perhaps you having kids isn’t the biggest thing that’s putting a wedge between us…
3. You think it’s OK to say things of this nature to your non-parent friends: “Of COURSE you want kids! You’ll change your mind; I didn’t know what love was until I had a child. My life was so empty before I had kids.”
Ummmm yeah I’m not going to lie to you, telling me – comparatively speaking – that if I don’t have kids, my life is empty, is kind of hurtful!! I don’t go around telling you how much you’re missing out by staying home with your kids and not having a job. Can you IMAGINE if I said something to this effect: “Of COURSE you need to have a career!! Do you know how far behind in the corporate world you’re going to be if you don’t go to work right now? And MONEY! I never knew what life was like until I could go out and buy a new pair of shoes and not have to think about buying diapers. My life is SO fulfilled with all the things I have that you don’t have…” Have respect for my choices and I won’t disrespect yours.
4. You make it a competition. “You think you’re tired? Try waking up every few hours for feedings!” “I haven’t showered in four days…maybe longer! You have no idea – I live in yoga pants now!!” “Busy? Try juggling soccer, ballet, play dates…”
WE GET IT!! You’re more exhausted, busier and your hygiene is worse than ours!!!!!! This is the life you chose…We are allowed to be tired, busy and, hell – even dirty! – and just because you’re MORE of those things because you have kids doesn’t discount what we are feeling that day. It’s not a competition.
5. You don’t give us enough credit.
As friends, there are a lot of things in life that we are going to experience differently. Our goals and day-to-day lives don’t have to align perfectly for us to stay friends. We know that having a child is one of the biggest changes and challenges that you’ll ever experience. While we can’t begin to imagine what you’re going through, we can still support you and celebrate small wins with you. We can still listen to you tell us that it’s hard – REALLY HARD! – to be a parent. We can keep doing what we did before you had kids: be there for each other. We want to be there for you. Please let us.
Related post: A Confession To My Friend Without Kids