This article , elegantly titled ‘Once We Become Parents We Don’t Want to Hang Out With You Anymore (But Not for the Reasons You Think)’ , has been forwarded to me by so many people, that it is beginning to look like ‘hint.. hint’, though most of the people who have done so, are childfree themselves. So I don’t get why they would send me an op-ed by a parent, explaining ( or parent-splaining, according to STFU, Parents) to her child-free friends why she can’t socialize with them any more.
Because the fact that the new parents have to care for a baby is not obvious enough reason for them not burning the midnight Margaritas?
I don’t get this really. I mean I get it that publications want controversially titled articles like these to keep those clicks coming and parenting seems to be hot potato when it comes to controversy. Or that people ( like moi) want to participate in an ongoing dialogue about shifts in culture. Whooo- that sounds soooo cerebral. Nope, we just want to read these and take out our comment-swords to prove-once and for all- that our choice is DA BEST OF ALL BITCHES.
Of course one knows that caring for children is exhausting. One knows that young parents would like to bond with their kid. My husband stops talking to me the minute some new game is launched- because he wants to bond with it. I will not socialize if my mother comes to visit because I want to spend maximum time with her.
IT IS COMMON SENSE.
Here we are talking about a kid who is completely dependent on you for survival. Plus because HE/SHE is the new entry in the family, not to mention this world, the parents are trying to figure out like a billion things. Plus they want to bond with the baby and spend all available time with her. Where is the rocket science and medieval poetry here?
If the parent wants to socialize – he or she will. They will need to figure out a schedule for themselves and if they really want to- they will. If they don’t want to because their priorities have changed- accept it and move on. It is not a personal attack on your friendship but simple dynamics of life.
Yes, as many commentators point out- it would be equally dumb for the parents to assume that their child-free friends should drop their life and rush to your side for a sympathetic ear as soon as there is an opening in their busy life. Parents tend to do that, but I am yet to meet a parent who does that out of some evil intention. If you point out that what you are doing is important to you, very few people would trivialize it. At least on your face. And if they do so-you better unfriend them.
I agree with common complaint that many parents can be absolutely smug and martyrly and tad boring especially if they drone about their kids. I also know people who are smug and martyrly and tad boring when they drone about their jobs. Or their home decor. Or their exercise routine. Or diet. So let us accept there is a fair amount of boring and smug and martyrly individuals in human race. And if you choose to spend time with them, you need to accept them.
I have parent friends and my best friend is a very devoted parent. But majority of my circle is composed of child-free or of few parents who actively make an effort to hang out with us ( and we do out best to accommodate their very real needs) and it sort of indicates that people drift apart when life takes a different track. For 99% of the married adults, it is having kids. And they drift towards other parents for obvious reasons. If they wanted to stick around with you, they would have.
It is their choice.
And here is where I have a bit of a problem with this article because it is insincere by pretending to be an honest, in-your-face dialogue. Because it doesn’t address the smugness and the superiority complex many parents/ forums display, rather it perpetuates it by going in details of parental duties, that are hallmark of martyr parenthood discourse. Everyone knows that a dependent human being like a baby increases workload. Really, however tough it might be to accept, one doesn’t need to be a parent to know that babies don’t go to toilet for shitting. Or that they can’t drive themselves to the doctor. Or that they need to be taught a lot of basic skills. Parents , safely assume that the rest of the world knows that baby= additional workload. Now could we lay off the laundry and sleepless nights and all the other details please? At least a bit?
This article conveniently forgets to address the fact that parents not only not socialize, but also feel superior while choosing not to. That in most of the cultures being a parent is elevated as the most important duty of an adult and people who might not choose this calling are somehow deemed inferior by mainstream.
Basically, like most others of its ilk, this article talks down to the child-free by assuming they are dumb idiots who still want to party nude while stoned on an island reachable only by a canoe ALL THE TIME, without caring if your kid is sick.
I am typing this article after emerging from a beach party stoned and nude for example.