Every once in a while I stumble upon a post or an article that is either written by a parent or someone who isn’t a parent defending their “position”. And I have to wonder – why? I’ve been a mom for far less time than I wasn’t. And I was pretty firm in my belief that being a mom was not something I wanted. Very firm actually. I loved my preparent life. Now I’m a mom and you know what? I love my life now. Too. Not more. It’s a different life. Filled with things I didn’t have before. Many of those things are incredible, some of them not so much. I wouldn’t go back for anything in the entire world. My daughter is amazing and I can’t believe how lucky I am to have her.
The other day I read a post titled Sorry, but being a mother is not the most important job in the world. I read it. And then I read most of the comments on the post. One of them jumped out at me. In a nut shell the comment suggested that instead of arguing whether or not parenting is the most important job in the word we perhaps focus on children being the most important people in the world. Now that is a win win. You don’t have to be a parent to value children and value the vast importance of children being brought up in safe, loving environments. Some really good food for thought there.
Yes being a parent changes a lot of things. But some things stay the same too. Being a mother didn’t “complete” me. In fact you better make sure you are complete BEFORE you enter into parenthood. I don’t mean perfect. Nobody gets to wear that badge. But anyone who is looking at parenthood as a means to fulfill a gap in their “self” really needs to rethink what they are doing. That is not a child’s job. Ever.
Let’s talk about lack of sleep. Parents – you get that right? But try to remember we don’t own it. There are a million and one reasons that people don’t get enough sleep. I know that for a lot of us, maybe even most of us (count me in) having a kid does hurl you into a sleepless world that you have never known before. But I’ve also never really had insomnia (except small bouts), or worked shift work or any of the other multitude of things that can screw up a person’s sleep.
I’ve heard people accuse parents of being selfish for having kids. I’ve also heard people that have kids accuse those who don’t of not knowing what true selflessness. Both of these statements are rubbish. At least on a broad scale. There are always exceptions. But in my entire life I have only met one person that I genuinely feel had a child for selfish reasons (and to be fair that is just my personal opinion). By and large people do not enter into parenthood for selfish reasons. And on the flip side I think it’s absolutely ridiculous to tell a person who chooses not to have children that they are selfish for making that decision. Why? What makes a child free person selfish? When I was not a parent I was not a selfish person. I was all about helping others. In fact I had oodles more time on my hands to do just that. I volunteered. I helped friends that needed my time and energy. I thought about others and did for others all the time. I know plenty of other people without kids that did and do the same.
You don’t know what it’s like. Something I heard from time to time back in the days before I was a mom. I would just smile and nod. I didn’t really get it. But now I do. I 100% get that now. I did’t know what it was like. Had no idea actually. I worked in childcare for years. Caring for and even loving other people’s children. I have a “baby” brother that I helped raise. Before I became a parent I knew what love was. Deep and true love. But this is different. I did not know. And that should not be offensive to anyone. Just like I have no possible concept of what it’s like to have experienced cancer or any other profound, life altering event. This is a life changer. You only completely and totally get it when you’ve been there. No matter how long.
Women – being a mother does not make you a better person. Ok, that’s not quite right. I think I probably am a better person BUT I’m just a better me. I’m not, because I’m a mother, better than the woman next to me that isn’t. Just like the woman who has not chosen to invest the time into raising a family, and instead focused primarily on a career, is no better than the mom next to her who may or may not have an additional job. Yes being a parent is an important, often difficult and sometimes stressful job. But so is being a teacher, a doctor or fire fighter – just to name a few.
I see such passion on both “sides”. And passion is good. But sometimes, when it is put a across in a defensive, even demeaning way, it just contributes to a divide that doesn’t need to be there. The “us and them” mentality is rarely a good thing. I have no idea what decisions my daughter will make in her adult life. Maybe she will want to be a mom. Maybe she won’t. I don’t want her to feel pressure either way. What I do know for sure is that she will be an amazing woman no matter what.
So to people who don’t have kids – no I won’t be thanking you (like this writer seems to think I should). And to other parents. Try to keep in mind that you are not more important in this world because you are a parent. It truly takes a village and that village has a place, an important place, for us all.