"Tell me about it"

I found this on FB and had to post here (this article was taken from the Washington Post)

Dearn Carolyn:

Best friend has child. Her: exhausted, busy, no time for self, no time for me, etc. Me (no kids): Wow. Sorry. What'd you do today? Her: Park, play group . . .

Okay. I've done Internet searches, I've talked to parents. I don't get it. What do stay-at-home moms do all day? Please no lists of library, grocery store, dry cleaners . . . I do all those things, too, and I don't do them EVERY DAY. I guess what I'm asking is: What is a typical day and why don't moms have time for a call or e-mail? I work and am away from home nine hours a day (plus a few late work events) and I manage to get it all done. I'm feeling like the kid is an excuse to relax and enjoy -- not a bad thing at all -- but if so, why won't my friend tell me the truth? Is this a peeing contest ("My life is so much harder than yours")? What's the deal? I've got friends with and without kids and all us child-free folks get the same story and have the same questions.

Tacoma, Wash.

"Relax and enjoy. You're funny.

Or you're lying about having friends with kids.

Or you're taking them at their word that they actually have kids, because you haven't personally been in the same room with them.

Internet searches?

I keep wavering between giving you a straight answer and giving my forehead some keyboard. To claim you want to understand, while in the same breath implying that the only logical conclusions are that your mom-friends are either lying or competing with you, is disingenuous indeed.

So, since it's validation you seem to want, the real answer is what you get. In list form. When you have young kids, your typical day is: constant attention, from getting them out of bed, fed, clean, dressed; to keeping them out of harm's way; to answering their coos, cries, questions; to having two arms and carrying one kid, one set of car keys, and supplies for even the quickest trips, including the latest-to-be-declared-essential piece of molded plastic gear; to keeping them from unshelving books at the library; to enforcing rest times; to staying one step ahead of them lest they get too hungry, tired or bored, any one of which produces the kind of checkout-line screaming that gets the checkout line shaking its head.

It's needing 45 minutes to do what takes others 15.

It's constant vigilance, constant touch, constant use of your voice, constant relegation of your needs to the second tier.

It's constant scrutiny and second-guessing from family and friends, well-meaning and otherwise. It's resisting constant temptation to seek short-term relief at everyone's long-term expense.

It's doing all this while concurrently teaching virtually everything -- language, manners, safety, resourcefulness, discipline, curiosity, creativity. Empathy. Everything.

It's also a choice, yes. And a joy. But if you spent all day, every day, with this brand of joy, and then, when you got your first 10 minutes to yourself, wanted to be alone with your thoughts instead of calling a good friend, a good friend wouldn't judge you, complain about you to mutual friends, or marvel how much more productively she uses her time. Either make a sincere effort to understand or keep your snit to yourself."

Me: Amen sister!!!!


Anonymous said...

Why can't we all just respect each other and our different challenges and stations in life. There should not be competition between working moms, stay at home moms, women with children, women without children....
Understanding, compassion, support are needed by all of us for all of us. Why can't there just be women to support all other women.

The High Family said...

I thought one was a lot of work but two is even harder.

Isn't it amazing how exhausting, frustrating and crazy it can all be rolled up into the best rewarding experience of your life.

Sure I may want to throw the towel in most days but at the end of the day I stare at their precious faces while they sleep and tell myself that I am one lucky mama.

Thanks for reminding me that we got the best of both worlds, Margie!

Teresa said...

It's just human nature and woman nature for someone to make comments like this woman who wrote in. My philosophy--don't knock it til you try it and if you're not "in it" you can never understand it fully. Parenting is the hardest job in the world but the most rewarding. Nowhere else will you get that amount of love and frustration at the same time. And I'm sorry but if you are not yet a parent or will never have you're own kids...you just can't honestly understand that.

beth - total mom haircut said...

I've seen this around the web too. I think there's no way to really explain being a parent to someone who's not a parent yet. And one day, should they become a parent, they'll get it.

blackbelt said...

I've been both. I worked HARD climbing the corporate ladder, working 60 hrs/wk for 17 years before having a kid.

I think that this woman was seriously asking for an answer. I understand her frustration because it IS hard to get a straight answer. Parenthood, and more specifically motherhood, I found, is full of buzz words and phrases that if you're not in "the club," you just don't get, and nobody is really willing to explain it to you. I've also had lots of parents be condescending to me as a single person, acting as if I wasn't mature because I didn't have a child - even when I was 40 years old!

I remember parent-type people telling me (when I was still a DINK) "It's the hardest job you'll ever do." I found out later, as a mom, that it was a code phrase for BORING and ANNOYING! ;-) Yes, yes, there's the joy blah blah but what is so hard about it? Yes, it's the 45 mins it takes to do a 15 min task. But it's also saying the same 10 phrases over and over and over and over and...without losing your cool while you are in CONSTANT surveillance of your little charge to keep those scary monsters from stealing him.

Yes. We are exhausted.