What people without children fail to realize is how different parents lives are than their own. I was unaware how much it would affect my relationship with most of my single friends, who still expect me to be on time to every event despite unexpected obstacles. As the mother of a baby and a toddler, here are a few things my single friends usually aren’t aware of – or very understanding of for that matter:
- you never have a chance to leave the house for more than a few hours at a time with a baby, and it’s a hassle when you are breastfeeding - it can be a huge ordeal. Often when you do, there is a very strong chance that either there will be a poop incident or the baby will vomit all over your clothes and theirs, requiring extra change of clothes for both of you
- the odds of having two quiet children at a restaurant are very small when you are invited out to one of the local hangouts. Expect that the meal will be cut short if you have an infant that cries and cannot be consoled
- a stroller is a huge but sometimes necessary inconvenience accessibility-wise in stores and there will be some places that do not accommodate them due to stairs, etc. It’s even worse when you have a double stroller so please don’t ask me to meet you somewhere that isn’t easily accessible, for both our sakes
- You rarely have time to do work at your computer, or chores, until the kids are napping or asleep for the night. This is especially true when they are much younger. So when you don’t get back to them right away, it’s nothing personal – just life as a parent
- If they invite you to visit their condo in Hawaii, before they start planning things to do with you, make sure they know that bringing the baby you are breastfeeding is part of the package deal. No – you can and will not leave your baby home for 2 weeks while taking a vacation. Best to clear that up at the start before the offer is taken away.
- Hard candy the size of a small bead in a small dispenser, as well as earrings and other jewelery is a choking hazard and not appropriate for a baby gift – especially if the baby is under 3 months old. They don’t have any teeth and most won’t be wearing earring for a while
- if I don’t answer the door within seconds of ringing the doorbell, that doesn’t mean that I’m not home. It just takes me longer to put the baby down safely, stop feeding, etc – so please don’t take off in your car if I’m not there within 10 seconds with just one ring
- you have all the advice in the world how to raise children, but if you don’t have them, please don’t suggest a method that will work with a parent’s child and then proceed to tell you everything you are doing wrong and how so and so’s kid never acts up. Every kid is different and if it was that easy, parenting wouldn’t be called the hardest job by some:)
These are things that have all happened to me with my childless friends, who are smart, well-educated people, and whom I love. It’s funny that you never know what to expect until you have kids. Our lives are so different from each other’s now that it’s surprising that we remain friends through it all. Years ago, I used to talk with my friends about how when one of our friends got married or had kids – or both – that we would never see them anymore because they would never make the time, or it they could spare time they would always show up late and only stay just a short time. It used to really get to us – maybe because we were so unhappy at the time with our own lives. Things are so much clearer now. Often it is not about caring less, but priorities shifting and finding it harder to find time. You have to challenge yourself to put yourself in a parent’s shoes. There is a chance I may have been one of those people years ago, but now I get it. You have to be a parent to get it.