5 Things People Without Children Won't Understand Until They Become Parents
Maybe this article will help you understand, just a tiny little bit...
Our friends without kids are in our lives for a very important reason (friendship aside) — to remind us of those moments in life before the kids came along.
Moments like these:
Those quiet times when the only other person in bed with you was your partner and you didn’t have tiny fingers exploring your nostrils at 3am; when you didn’t need to pack a small wardrobe of clothes, diapers and other baby-related objects for a one-hour trip away from home; when you knew what eight full hours of sleep felt like.
The saner moments in life, if you will.
We love our childless friends* for all these reminders and more. But to be perfectly honest, there are certain things that these wonderfully free people without children just won’t understand… until they have kids of their own.
Here are 5 things you can only really comprehend when you are surrounded by your very own battalion of mini-me’s.
1. The true meaning of ‘tired’
Please, don’t give us parents that “I’m so tired, I worked till so late” story — it just doesn’t cut it, sorry.
Tired is when you’ve had an accumulative 8 hours of sleep over one week because your kid had bronchitis and refused to be put down to sleep anywhere else except for your arms.
Tired is when you come home from work, exhausted, only to find your day hasn’t even started because your kids need you like they need oxygen to breathe.
Tired is what you feel after pushing out a child the size of a small watermelon after you’ve spent 10 hours feeling like a giant was gleefully squeezing your insides every hour, 15 minutes, 5 minutes.
Really, there needs to be a whole new definition for the word ‘tired’ in relation to parenting.
What is a mess? Is it when you have a few dirty plates piled up in your kitchen sink or some unfolded clothes lying on your dresser? No!
Only people with children will ever truly understand what really amounts to ‘a mess’.
It’s the state of your house after you’ve had your kids’ friends over for a playdate, it’s what your child is after delightedly up-ending a bowl of spaghetti bolognese on her head and it’s what you are when your six-month-old baby projectile vomits his pureed avocado all over you.
It’s your house, your life and you in general for a very long time.
3. Staying up really late even though we complain we are tired
We may look like characters out of The Walking Dead, but it’s to catch shows like this that we stay up so late even when we are tired and the kids are sleeping. Never mind that we are asleep on the couch 10 minutes into the show.
What matters is that we still try to do ‘normal’ things that people without kids do. Like watch TV, read a book and enjoy 5 minutes of peace without a child asking you to kill the monster under his bed.
Here’s a test of patience: ask the child what he would like for dinner, ask three more times until you are sure he wants spaghetti, make it for him, have him reject it because it’s not what he wanted and what he really wanted was pizza.
Repeat every day for a year.
It’s hard for a person without kids to know what patience really is until they have answered hundreds of mostly unanswerable questions a day. Until they are faced with a kicking, screaming, crying little human who would make a saint want to run away and hide forever.
Patience is truly a virtue when you have children.
5. Why we still don’t want to swap our life with yours
Yes, there are times we are remarkably envious of your life. We even fleetingly wonder what it would be like to be like you, without the chaos of children in our lives.
But now that we have crossed that parenthood border, we can’t really remember a time when life was quiet, without messes, tears and tantrums.
We can’t and don’t want to imagine a life without toothless grins, big sparkly eyes and small, warm bodies smelling of milk, vanilla and honey snuggled in our arms.
You may not understand this thought process right now when all we seem to do is complain about how tired and sleep-deprived we are.
But someday you just might. Let’s talk about it more, then.
*Please note that while this article is part tongue-in-cheek, part serious, it in no way attempts to undermine the experience of couples trying to conceive without success. We understand what you are going through.