Every now and then I hit my threshold of listening to unintentional stupidity. Since I’m a married woman who does not have children, and society is ever-pushing us into the next stage of life, I get more unsolicited random ‘advice’ from mothers than I want. To be fair, the amount I want is none, but even so, I usually can do pretty well for awhile at brushing off comments as they come. But every now and then I’ll get a bunch in short order, and I’ve got to let it out somewhere. So I submit for your approval a collection of the five most common and innane things I hear from those who bear the title “Mom.” Because I have to rant/laugh at it all, or I’ll go crazy. Who’s with me?!?
*As an added bonus for levity, I’ve included a few related STFU Parents categories. Enjoy!
“You don’t understand [insert noun – life, unconditional love, sacrifice, happiness – here] until you become a mother.”
Really? (Somehow I have a feeling all my responses could begins with, “Really?”) I feel like I have a pretty good handle on all of the above. Do I have more to learn? Yes. Do I understand all there is to understand about any of the above? I’m pretty sure I’m not God, so no. But I feel like I do a pretty good job. I’ve seen parents who are horribly self-centered. I’ve seen parents put their well-being and happiness above the best interest of their child, sometimes to the point of abuse. I’ve seen parents so self-obsessed that their children are merely extensions of their egos. If this common mom saying were true, everyone would magically be imbued with all these qualities when they become a parent, and that’s just not how it works. Some of the wisest, most sacrificial people I know aren’t parents. (Mother Theresa, anyone?) To be fair, I do kind of understand this one. I definitely gained a fuller understanding of happiness, life, sacrifice and unconditional love by getting married than I had before. But just because I learned something through my marriage, does that mean I can say that my understanding is somehow better or more authentic than someone who is not married? Whether you really think it’s true or not, saying this out loud just makes you come off as a smug, self-satisfied, condescending jerk.
Related STFU Parents Category: Mommyjacking
“You’re tired? Try having a [screaming newborn, screaming two-year-old, a child with the stomach flu] keeping you up all night. Then you can talk to me about tired.”
Really? (Ok, I’ll stop after this one.) So just because I didn’t choose to pop out a kid I don’t have a right to be tired? Working full-time, keeping a household running while my husband is putting in 90 hour weeks for tax season, while making time to work out and have a social life doesn’t earn me the right to say I’m tired? Oh, right, because I choose to add working out and a social life to my time, I have no right to complain. After all, moms never get time for themselves, amirite? (Heard that one a lot too.) But guess what? Moms make a choice too: to have a kid. Just because a mom’s choice involved bringing another person into this world doesn’t mean they can plant the Mommy flag and lay claim to the land of tired. Suffering insomnia for weeks on end means I’m not tired? I’m pretty sure insomnia, especially caused by a migraine, is comparable to being up with a screaming kid. Inability to sleep no matter how much I want to? Check. Pounding head no amount of Advil can cure? Check. Looking like an extra on The Walking Dead at work the next day? Check. But what do I know? I’m not a mom. I’d never understand.
Similarly, we have “You think you’re busy? Try keeping up with two kids still in diapers. Then tell me you’re busy.”
Because no one who’s not a mom is busy. I hit three campuses across the Bay Area on an average day at work, and teach 15 classes of Preschool through 8th grade students. And run the errands. And do the cooking. And have a very busy social calendar. And mentor teenagers. And, and, and, and. Everyone is busy, especially if you live in the California Bay Area. Get over it.
Related STFU Parents Category: Woe is Mom
“You think your job is tough? Try being a mom.” or “Moms have the hardest, most important job in the world!”
This one really gets me. Not because I think my job is particularly hard. As I’ve said, I have the best job in the world. No, this one gets me because some people have job titles that look like this: Neurosurgeon. Cardiothorasic surgeon. Heck, any type of surgeon. Commanding Officer of a platoon about to enter enemy territory during wartime. President of the United States. Heck, any job where the lives and wellbeing of more than 2.5 people are in your hands. Any of the thankless jobs featured on Dirty Jobs that keep our society running by doing the work none of the rest of us want to do. Ever seen A Day Without A Mexican? Other jobs are hard. Other jobs are important. Get over it.
Related STFU Parents Category: Sanctimommy
“Get all your [sleep, travelling, sex] in now, while you still can!”
Oddly, this is the comment I most often get from people who seem desperate to induct me into The Cult of Mom. It comes right before I hear, “But I can’t wait until you have kids! You’ll be the best mom ever!! You’re going to love it!!!” Not really making a great case for yourself here, ladies. What if I don’t have a burning desire to backpack in Europe? Does that mean I’m doomed to be forever unfulfilled because I didn’t fit it in during the third of my life without kids? What about after kids? I’m looking forward to exploiting my empty nest syndrome, thankyouverymuch. There’s a reason all the moms I hear these things from have kids under the age of ‘teen.’
So life stops once you have kids? Really? You want to cop to having a boring life and blame it on your kids? I’d say blame it on yourself. We make time for that which is important to us. Need extra sleep? That’s what babysitters are for. Want to go on a trip? That’s why we have family. (Blood born or chosen.) Want more sex? Well, that’s between you, your spouse, and The Guide to Getting it On. We’re also told that sex goes out the window after marriage, and I know many married couples who would disagree with that. (That’s assuming you had sex pre-marriage, of course. I didn’t, so I can only speak to the joy of the after.)
Related STFU Category: WTF of the Day
“Just wait until you have kids. You’ll say/do all this stuff too!”
Um, no. No I won’t. I am blessed to have lots of absolutely sane friends who also happen to be parents. If they’re obsessed with all organic food, they keep it to themselves. If they are fanatical about using cloth diapers, they don’t berate other moms for making different choices. They’re respectful, and they don’t make me feel less-than because I’m not a mom yet. My BFF Melissa in particular is awesome at being a parent who raises two kids that are more well-rounded and loved than any I’ve known, while having boundaries and making lots of time for her husband, her girlfriends, and herself.
When I hear this from moms, I think about that thing we heard in college. You remember, everyone said how drinking only made the real you come out. Alcohol takes away your filter and gives you an excuse to follow your inner desires. There’s a reason they call it ‘liquid courage.’ Well, I replace the word ‘alcohol’ with ‘parenting.’ In my experience, having a child gives some parents an excuse to let out all of the parts of their personality they’ve kept hidden for fear of public shunning. If you’re a closet narcissist, your children are the most perfect beings ever to grace this earth. If you’re a hypochondriac, every cough turns into a frantic call to the doctor. If you wish you achieved more in your life, your children represent everything you wish you could have been. And on, and on, and on… I have a lot of qualities I’d rather keep under wraps, but I also have a pretty good sense of when I’m pissing people off. To be fair, I don’t always care to change if I sense this, but still. I also have friends who I fully expect to snatch me bald-headed if I start acting like a stuck-up self-important parent. Or if I call them to say hi, only to put my three-month-old on the phone for ten minutes at a time because she’s just so cute! Or if I start pushing The Cult Of Mom with a side of breast milk-laced Kool-aid on unsuspecting non-parents. Sorry, I’m not going to obsessively talk about my baby’s bowel movements on social media sites. Not going to happen, because I’m NORMAL! Just because you do it does not make it normal.
I know I’ve come off just as self-righteous and pompous as all the moms I claim to abhor. Please know it’s all in good fun. Kind of a ‘laugh at it before you cry’ kind of thing. Because I really do hear these all the time, and I Do. Not. Get. It. I do not get the need to push your choices or life-stage onto someone else, especially one as completely life-altering as becoming a parent. I’m happy to be a DINK for now, thank you. I’m loving it, I’m living it, I’m owning it. I’m sure when the time comes I’ll love and love and own parenthood too. But not just yet. And I solemnly swear that if you are childless when I have kids, you have my permission to kick my sanctimonious @ss if I do anything that would land me a feature on STFU Parents.
So what do you think? I know I’m not the only married-without-kids gal out there that’s gotten burned by The Cult of Mom, so share your story. What do you do, laugh or cry?