by SARA MULCAHY
Why do we play down motherhood?
A friend of mine recently decided to try for a baby and, when we meet for lunch, she asks, ‘What’s it really like?’ On safe ground – she is (fingers crossed) about to join the club after all – I extol the virtues of motherhood as I see them. I tell her it’s like being 14 and having the biggest crush on a boy at school and finding out he feels the same way about you. I tell her you expect to love your kids, but you don’t realise you’ll be in love with them. And – I’m on a role here – how everything that has gone before seems like just the lead up to this, what we are really meant to do with our lives.
But what about the lack of sleep? She asks. It’s fine! I say. You see, people who don’t have babies imagine it’s like the alarm clock going off three times in one night and you have to get up and GO TO WORK. But it isn’t! You may have to drag your fuzzy head off the pillow but you hear that little cry and you see those tiny fingers reaching for your face … I actually liked getting up in the night, I confess. Sometimes I miss those moments we shared in the gloom, when no one else was awake.
She tells me that of all her friends with kids, I’m the only one who’s had anything positive to say. All the others laughed and told her to enjoy her life while it was still her own. I’m (quietly) shocked. But then again, I’m not.
Because just as modern etiquette demands you don’t call fat people fat, or tell Big Issue sellers you can’t afford it, it’s become almost taboo to tell people without kids how great it is to have them.
If anyone asks you what’s it like having a baby in the house you are, in fact, mandated to tell them they don’t realise how great they have it. Make them feel good about their decision (or someone else’s) not to procreate yet by telling them you haven’t slept for more than 20 minutes in eight months and you can’t remember the last time you blow-dried your hair, drank a bottle of wine or read more than a paragraph in one sitting.
To with the recent post on UK blog Mamami: ‘14 steps to follow before you decide to have children!!!!‘ Suggestions such as ‘Walk around the living room from 5pm to 10pm carrying a wet bag weighing approximately 4kg’ have been shared infinite times across the various social media platforms. And no wonder, because it’s funny! But in Parentland, there isn’t one of us who’d turn back the clock. We think that speaks for itself. But does it?
Next time someone asks you how the kids are, instead of rolling your eyes and saying, Oh you know… remember, they don’t.
Tell the truth: they’re absolutely beautiful and you should have one yourself, before it’s too late.
Sara Mulcahy is a writer, editor and mother to a croc-obsessed toddler. She’s also the mumpreneur behind babyonholiday, a website that offers tips, blogs and products for the discerning traveller under two.
Are you a parent? Do you ever find yourself scaring non-parents with your tales of motherhood? If you’re not a parent, have you ever experienced this from the opposite position?