Don’t rain on my (baby) parade!

I’m most pleased to have this guest piece to post, written by Donna from over at MummyCentral. This post has had me alternating between smirks and knowing smiles,and annoyance coupled with the urge to check my FB friend’s and delete anyone who posts only animal pics. Makes no sense? It soon will! To read more about Donna, check out her Bio at the end of the post!

When we decided to have kids, the conversation between me and hubby went something like this:

Me: Do you want children?
Him: Dunno. Do you want them?
Me: Let’s have one and see how we get on
Him: Yep, sounds like a plan

We were as far away as you could get from those people whose lifelong ambition is to be a parent.

If anything, we envied those who were sure – either way.
For us, it was more like dipping a toe in the water to see if we liked the temperature.
I won’t say parenthood hasn’t been tough. But the water must have been pleasant, because we decided to jump right in and have a second baby a few years later.
We’re now madly in love with our boys. Having them was the best decision we ever made.
But we understand family life isn’t for everyone – and God knows it can be tiring and hard work.

So I’ve found myself bewildered, since returning to work part-time, at the attitude of some colleagues without offspring.
Some don’t want them, some are planning to have them in the next couple of years. Some aren’t sure.
But they have been extremely vocal in their lambasting (if that’s the right term) of parents.
The general comments have been things like:
“God I hate parents who post pictures of their kids on Facebook. How soppy.”
“All they can talk about is nappies and weaning. I mean, get a life!”
“Why should they get better parking spaces? Bloody cheek.”
Are these people threatened? Or do they protest too much?
It’s as if they’re worried I’m going to recruit them into some terrible cult – while proudly showing off pictures of my placenta.
Meanwhile, a pregnant colleague sitting opposite me doesn’t dare mention her impending arrival, until this cynical lot goes out to lunch.
Then she proudly brings out her scan pictures, asks me what steriliser I’d recommend, and discusses her favourite baby names.
The thing is, we sit silently while our colleagues gush about their wedding plans, describe their diets and¬†everything they’ve eaten that day, or talk in gushing terms about their beloved dogs (who they post pictures of on Facebook).
So why are we shamed, feeling somehow guilty, at the occasional comment about our kids?
All I can think is that having babies really is an emotional issue. Some people can’t have them. Some are afraid of how much they might change their lives.
Some decide not to have them – then feel guilty or judged by society.

Speaking for myself, I can only hold up my hands and say: “No judgement”.

And I would guess a lot of frazzled parents are the same.
We love our kids dearly, but can imagine a life without them – having lots of freedom, holidays, spare cash, etc.
It’s just that we chose to forego those pleasures for our own unique experience.

So why can’t we celebrate that experience, without eye-rolling or mocking from those who chose a different path?

I don’t spend my days shouting:

“I hate dog owners who let their mutts poop on my lawn.”

“Bloody bridezillas. There’s more to life than a three-tiered cake.”

“I don’t¬†care how many calories are in your sandwich. Eat it and shut up!”

I understand different things are important to different people.

So what if a mother wants to gush about her babies, or even get out her photos and show them off? Why not let her?

And like I said to the last office cynic who tutted that he couldn’t stand children.

“Count yourself lucky your parents didn’t feel the same!”.

Donna White is co-creator of Mummy Central and a work-at-home mum of two boys, aged two and five. She has been a journalist for almost 20 years, and at the height of her career she flew into Afghanistan with Tony Blair. She now spends her days wiping snot and listening to The Wiggles! catch up with her over at the MummyCentral Facebook Page or on Twitter.

 

 

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4 comments

  1. I think the world of small children and the other, adult world are two parallel universes. When my first baby arrived, I felt like I’d lost touch with the ‘real’ world and was in a new one where I didn’t know anyone else or any of the rules. I think the negativity about parents of small children is because people don’t understand what it’s like until they get there. In our society you can go 30 years or more and barely have contact with babies, so I guess it’s not surprising that people don’t have a clue how they totally take over your life. Not that it’s any excuse to be rude, of course! (P.S. I’m with you on being bored to death by weddings, dogs and diets.)

  2. Great post! I totally agree with Donna’s points. However, some parents are their own worst enemies. It is the parents who go on and on about how wonderful it is, and telling everyone else that they must choose this life as well, who cause irritation. I love my children to bits, but like Donna I don’t suggest everyone around me must also have them. I also understand that some people may wish they had the chance to have them, and not been able to do so.

    Similarly, if you haven’t had children, the “nitty gritty” details are really not something you want to hear about. When I talk about my children, I try to remember who my audience is and keep it short with those who I know will find it a puzzle. I also choose my topics – potty training is not a subject for the childless, for example!

    Give parents a break, but if you do get a break as a parent, don’t abuse it. Because if you do, you’re spoiling it for the next poor parent who comes along!!

  3. Totally agree with you Emma. I can’t defend the parents who spend their time telling everyone how they really MUST have children because it’s the only purpose in life.
    And, like everything, people don’t want to hear about your baby’s bowel movements ;-D

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