You notice lots of things about children after spending lots of time raising them. Fancy that.
One of the more startling things I’ve come to realize is that they lack empathy—at times, severely.
So, apparently it’s something that I’m supposed to teach them? I’m supposed to train them to realize that the world does not operate in the magical 3-foot zone around them.
They’re the sweetest, most innocent and wonderful people who I have ever met. But sometimes, they just don’t care.
Here, look. I’ll show you.
1. They Don’t Care If You Are Tired
Babies come flying out of the womb, or are forced out in my case, and they keep their terrified, exhausted parents awake all hours of the night.
Mommy or daddy might pass out while leaning against the side of the crib, or on the couch if they sit there for more than three minutes, because their sleep schedule is so jacked.
Does that baby care? Nope, not at all. But that’s kind of understandable, right? They aren’t supposed to care ’cause they’re babies.
Then the kids get older, and maybe they sleep through the night—that’s a big fat maybe.
But what happens if you catch one bad night of zzz’s because you stayed awake way too late watching TV or because you were up with a kid who’s fighting a fever?
Nothing. They don’t care. Because it’s business as usual. For them.
You might be standing in the kitchen dumping coffee into your eyeballs, but meanwhile, they’ll wonder why it’s taking so long for you to make breakfast. They still want to go for that 1-mile walk around the neighborhood. They still want their PB&J sandwiches with the crust cut off.
Don’t you just love how they pretend that wasn’t them keeping you up all night by standing at your bedside, two inches from your face, inducing a heart attack when they told you “quietly” that there was a woodpecker living in the attic and they need to sleep in your bed?
You’ll sleep when you’re dead.
2. They Don’t Care If You’re Dirty
Every time I wake up in the morning and try to talk myself into grabbing a quick shower before my day gets started (read: when the children wake up), I decide against it. Then I live to regret it. Because once my children are up, that becomes a nearly impossible task. At best, it’s a very non-private experience, because your children always have to come and find you when you’re in the bathroom because it’s the law.
I should learn from my mistakes, but inevitably, at 2 p.m., I’m either still in my pj’s looking and smelling like I just hiked through 29 miles of mountainous terrain, or I’m trying to shower in private. But the word “private” is relative; inevitably, at least one child will wander in, grimace at my naked body, and ask me why my stomach looks like that. They act like it’s not their fault that my belly looks like a deflated balloon, or like it wasn’t their choice to come into the bathroom to ask for Go-Gurt to begin with.
Do my kids care if I’m stinky? Nope. They still climb on me, sit on me, jump on me, or get two inches away from my face to ask me to turn on Netflix.
3. They Don’t Care If You’re Carrying 23 Things
After one of my infrequent (cough) shopping trips to Target, my cart was stacked a mile high. I had my infant’s car seat positioned across the top of the cart while I held on to it for dear life, and held my middle daughter’s hand, and steered the cart.
My son, who was carrying his Gatorade in one hand and holding the cart with the other, stopped walking, sighed and (clearly exhausted) weakly asked me if I could carry his Gatorade.
He has to be trolling me, right?! I thought to myself. I just spent $345.08 on groceries and am trying to make like the Oregon Trail back to our van before we all die of dysentery, and he needs me to hold a 20-ounce bottle of Gatorade?
Sometimes when my children ask for this or that, I have to ask them to stop and look at me, actually look at me. I show them the baby I’m holding, or the diaper bag strung across the front of me and the bags in my other hand. I remind them that I’m trying to carry a 3-mile-high basket of laundry up the stairs, so I don’t currently have the time to make plans to drive to the zoo.
They smile and go on about their merry way. Must be nice, right?
4. They Don’t Care If You’re Late
Let me paint you a picture: You finally snap the fussing baby into the car seat while you are dictating orders to the other two children to get their shoes and jackets on. One child inevitably cannot find their shoes (because it’s always their shoes, and why do we have that stupid basket anyway if their shoes don’t even end up in it?!) while the other one declares that she doesn’t want to wear the slip-on shoes that would be so much easier for her to put on by herself. She wants her sneakers, and haven’t you learned by now that no matter what pair of shoes you ask her to put on she is going to want to choose another pair, which require someone to go upstairs to hunt for socks, but we all know that finding matching socks is like finding gold bricks in the middle of the driveway.
It doesn’t matter that you’ve spent the last two hours trying to get them ready in slow intervals. All that matters is that in the last 18 minutes before you are due to walk out the door, everything comes crashing down because you are actually going to go through with this whole take your children out in public thing because you’re a moron.
I can’t tell you for how many years I told my children, “We’re late!” before I realized that they have no concept of what it means to be late. Even if they did, hurrying is something they’re only inclined to do if it’s something that is fun for them.
My children hurry for cupcakes, Netflix and playdates. That’s pretty much it.
But Mommy needs to make it to a dentist appointment? Yeah, right. Enjoy your cavities.
5. They Don’t Care About…All That Other Stuff
Okay, so this is where I get super sappy, because that’s what I’m supposed to do.
It’s maddening, this whole mothering thing.
But the truth is that, thankfully, our children don’t care if we are dirty, if the house is messy, if we’re overweight, if we’re a hot mess, if we’re disorganized, if we screwed up at work.
They love and need us.
So, while they drive us absolutely batty, we can at least take advantage of the fact that they don’t really care if we aren’t the perfect parent, or if we failed at our diets today because we ate a pound of Kit Kats, or if we don’t have our college degree yet. We can absolutely enjoy their beautiful indifference to so many things that stress us out.
Even if on occasion (a lot of the time), they cause a lot of said stress.