kids

"My friend had a baby, and now she thinks her life is harder than mine."

Readers, meet Anonymous.

She is a very reasonable woman. And she has a best friend.

Anonymous and her best mate work together, and right now, Anonymous does not have children. Her best friend has recently switched her status from non-parent to Mum AF.

Anonymous writes:

My best friend had a baby 6 months ago.

We are both teachers and she got the maternity benefits of working for Education Queensland. Her husband has a very well paid job and she has said she feels lucky that she doesn’t HAVE to go back to work. But she said she needs the stimulation and recently returned to work.

Anonymous does not judge this choice. Anonymous is down:

Staying home full-time with the baby wasn’t for her, which I fully support. She does two relief teaching days a week now which means some weeks she doesn’t get called in at all and other weeks she gets two days of work.

What’s the problem, you ask? Well, you see, for Anonymous, her new-mum friend has become, well, let’s call it what it is: Unbearable:

What frustrates me is her attitude towards my profession and career now. My job is a trivial little day job compared to her working two days of relief AND being a mum. That is the way she makes me feel.

‘I had to go to work having been up all night, you don’t know how easy you have it.’  ‘I was up from 4am and now have to go to work.’

‘I had such a busy day at school, I didn’t get to return home to visit the baby at lunch.’

Because I don’t have a child at home or because I had a full night sleep, my job is nothing. Anything I say is quickly shut down because my life is so much easier.

Anonymous is shitty. Her once-tight friendship is crumbling, a minefield of simmering resentment.

But this is her CHOICE. Do people without children get no credit for the work they do, simply because when they get home, they don’t have children to look after?

Why do we know all this? Because Anonymous wrote to Mamamia’s flagship podcast, Mamamia Out Loud, go get some wisdom on how to handle this situation from the show’s hosts: Mia Freedman, Monique Bowley and Jessie Stephens.

They gave it, here:

But unfortunately for Anonymous, when it comes to answering her email in kind, in written form, she got me.

And I am not going tell her what she wants to hear (I’m assuming Anonymous is a woman, many apologies if I have mis-gendered you, Anon.) For one very simple reason.

OF COURSE YOUR FRIEND IS BUSIER THAN YOU. She has A BABY.

Let me recount a short tale, Anonymous. I had a baby once.

Well, I had a baby twice, but the first time is the revelation. I was 38 at the time. That’s thirty-eight years of living like a normal person.

A person who had a busy job, lots of friends, ate out three times a week, decided to randomly go for a drink/a run/a yoga class/let’s face it, a drink, after work at a moment’s notice.

The kind of normal person who might think that going on holiday was fun, or that a long and leisurely breakfast on a Sunday morning was a human right. That kind of person.

The Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids kind of person. (Source: Apatow Productions.)
ADVERTISEMENT

Then, baby. And suddenly, I had no time.

No time at all. It is impossible for anyone who has never looked after a baby to understand why it possibly takes so much time, effort, swear words and tears just to keep that tiny thing alive, fed, dressed in those cute little outfits and not bawling its head off 24-7.

It looks easy. It's not easy, Anonymous. No-one understands why, but it's the most difficult and time-consuming thing that humans are obliged to do.

And, I have bad news for you and your friend, Anonymous. It gets worse.

You have to carry large children even though they're heavy and you're tired. (Source: The Weinstein company.)

Babies turn into toddlers. You have to follow them around with a mop and a bucket full of apologies all the time. And then they go to school. And you have to spend all your time in a car.

Like, ALL YOUR TIME.

I'm sorry, Anonymous, I know that martyr-mums are the most intensely irritating people on the planet.

We used to look like normal people, speak like normal people, be interested in our friends' passions and achievements like normal people.

ADVERTISEMENT

And then we breed, and it's all about us. Us and the tiny, hat-wearing humans we won't shut up about.

MIss Honey from Matilda is how I'm picturing your friend. (Source: Jersey Films.)

We want a medal for turning up at the office and remembering people's names.

We demand that we get to leave work before you, get first dibs on the school holiday periods (Christmas? What do non-parents need Christmas for?) and insist that although we only work three half-days a week, we get so much more done because we are more efficient.

You see, Anonymous, what your soon-to-be-ex-friend is trying to tell you is that her time is more precious than yours because her life has more meaning than yours and there are people at home who care whether she gets home in time to change their shitty pants or not.

Doesn't that make you feel good about yourself, Anonymous? Aren't you pleased you guys are still friends?

Quick, A. I can call you A, right? Quick. Run screaming from this friendship before she asks you to babysit.

You cannot win a martyr battle with a new mother. It's impossible. It doesn't matter how hard you work or how many hours you put in, if you weren't up at 4am scraping mushed weetbix off your ceiling, you don't know you're born.

So, good luck with that.

Aren't you glad you asked?

Are parents really busier than non-parents?