There are a lot of parents out there who love to tell non-parents they wouldn’t understand. If you are in my boat, I’m sure you’ve heard it as well. We don’t understand the reasons why parents give into their screaming kids in the grocery store check out line, but they do. We couldn’t possibly fathom why they arrive an hour late due to Johnny not wanting to wear pants, but they sure do. We can’t imagine what those parents go through because although we may have had younger siblings, beloved pets, miles of babysitting experience, nieces and nephews or significant others with their own children it can’t possibly compare to pushing that little pink person out of your own body. Yes fathers, you barely squeak into the parenting category. No matter how much she loves you, you are one bear attack from getting thrown into a horrible death if it means your child will live.
So to all of you who have children and insist we wouldn’t understand – you wouldn’t understand. The thing is, we can see you more clearly than you can see yourselves because all you can see is the world within which your child exists. You are wearing baby blinders and are carrying around an invisible permission slip that you feel allows you to tell us childless people how meaningless and empty our lives are. In truth its kind of funny, and if sometimes we look at you and smile its might be because we are sad for you and a little amused by your nosedive into single-mindedness.
We are not selfish for not having children – many of us have heard that one. We are not preventing our line from continuing or hampering in any way the continuation of our species. Some of us are blaringly aware that by not procreating we are doing the world a huge favor! We are in fact, making more room for your children to run around the Applebees screaming their heads off and throwing salt at one another. At times we do reconsider. There will come a time when the prison system will be so overpopulated by your kids that maybe to have created a few more corrections officers would have been the responsible thing to do.
Having pets is our version of having children – I have a dog and a step-dog and I can tell you firsthand that the feelings I have for them are powerful and beyond explanation. I drove 10 hours to pick up my puppy and since she was less than 2 months old she has been as close to me as my own heart. I talk to her, love her, feed her and teach her and in return she plays with me and loves me and surprises me every day with how deeply she can communicate her thoughts and feelings. If there was you and your kids and one more piece of food left in the whole world I would split it with my dog.
Some of us desperately want our own kids – How incredibly inconsiderate can one person be than to tell someone who has been through years of fertility treatments without success that because they are not parents they wouldn’t understand? Your stoic and all-knowing ‘mama bear’ complex has now ruined what little happiness and self-fulfillment that woman has created for herself. You may have endured this but you had success, or maybe you were able to adopt. Those feelings are long gone now and like someone who has experienced dramatic weight loss, you’re now trying to recruit everyone else. Its not a good look.
Your kids are genuinely annoying sometimes – I know you think that if we had kids we would understand, but you’re wrong. You know how if you leave the TV on (while you’re cleaning up the bag of flour with which Tiffany has coated the living room) you stop hearing it after a while? That what has happened to YOU. Your kid screaming with joy three tables over does not cause anyone else joy. It makes everyone’s head hurt. Its piercing like a blow dart. We as non-parents are still in touch with this fact. You no longer understand. You have lost perspective and you’ll never get it back.
You don’t understand – we don’t share your hormonal zealousness. We see the world through a lens of how it impacts us and we find bigger meaning in other things. Our yoga addiction or painting lessons or horses may be a secondary distraction in your world, but to someone who is not a parent these are the moments in our lives that add meaning and value. It is not a consolation prize due to our lack of children (I told you you wouldn’t understand).. these are genuinely the moments we value on purpose! So next time you think of telling me I’m not a parent I am just going to smile, because I know that although you once were a free citizen of the world, you are now a cult member and as such cannot be pulled back out of the abyss that is parenthood.
We miss you, we love you, and we will be here for you when you realize that you’ve been in a crazy parenting induced fog. We will got to the Whitesnake concert with you, we will drive you home after 10 Jack Daniels shots, we will pay off the kid 15 years younger than you to tell you you’re still hot, and we will nod without judging when you tell us about all the sacrifices you’ve made that we will never understand. Until then we’ll save a seat for you in happy selfish ignorant freedom town…