Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Four Truths About People With Kids

When it comes to social interactions, there is sometimes a gap between parents and non-parents. So in the interests of bringing these groups together, today, I'd like to share four facts about people with kids.

1. We're tired pretty much all the time - I'm not saying people without kids aren't...it's not a contest. I'm just pointing out that those of us with kids are perpetually sleep-deprived. It starts in the early infant days, when the constant feeding schedule makes you feel like you're perpetually cat-napping, and continues when your kids are little and their constant needs and demands wear you down. Add to that baby brain—a pervasive fog that can take years to dissipate—and you don't exactly have a recipe for success. So if you find yourself thinking, Why is she asking me that question? I've already told her that!—well, that's why.

2. We don't mean to be boring and neglectful, but we sometimes are - I blame this one partially on biology and partially on conditioning. And it's particularly a problem for mothers.  As a mother, one of the very first things you learn is to distinguish your baby's cry from any other baby's. And, as your kids get older, you're conditioned to go from sound asleep to wide awake in seconds at the slightest cry of "mama!" from another room. (Side note: my husband can sleep through anything. The kids can be bawling their eyes out or screaming at the top of their lungs in the middle of the night, and the next morning, my husband is like, "Really? I didn't hear anything."). So when our kids are vying for our attention, we find it hard to concentrate on you. It's not that we don't want to carry on an adult conversation; it's just that it's hard for us to ignore our kids—no matter how much we might want to. In fact, we may have forgotten how to have an adult conversation. A gentle reminder never hurts.

3. We are envious of you at times - Any parent will tell you they love their kids and wouldn't trade them for anything—and of course, having kids is a choice. Yet when you casually mention your long and boozy dinner the other night, the tickets you got last-minute for the Raptors game or the trip you've booked to Europe, we will probably be a bit jealous. It's human nature to want what you don't have, and the No. 1 thing you lose when you become a parent is freedom. There's no such thing as spontaneity...any outings must be carefully planned in advance and revolve around the question, "But what will we do with the kids?" So yeah—sometimes, we resent that loss of freedom and wish we could have it back.

4. We're not trying to brag about our kids...but we will. Obsessively. - Imagine you had a big project at work, which was stressful and a total pain to orchestrate but ended up being successful. You'd want a thank you or some credit from your team members, right? Some praise from your boss? And you'd probably get those things—but when it comes to parenting, it's a different story. It's highly unlikely you'll get any praise from your kids for your successes but extremely likely they'll point out all of your failures. And, since there's no reliable benchmark for good parenting, you're often not sure you're doing well at all. So when something does go well—say, your baby starts sleeping through the night or your toddler is finally potty-trained—you're borderline desperate for positive reinforcement. So please try to cut us some slack if we sound like a broken record...parenting is our biggest project ever, and we really need to share our successes. With anyone.

So there you have it: four facts about people with kids. I'd love for people without kids to share their perspective, too, to get the other side of the story.

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