parents

I am being sabotaged by my friends, and they don't even know they are doing it.

My friends are putting me off having kids.
My friends are putting me off having kids.

By WENDY LOVE

I’m 29, married and financially stable. My work is flexible. I love my in-laws. And I have a husband who would have been happy if I were pregnant the day we said our vows. On top of that, the vast majority of my friends have one or more children, which means I almost feel like the odd one out not being a parent.

So why, then, with all these favourable conditions, am I starting to back away from my prenatal supplements and reconsider our decision to start “trying”?

Simple.

I am being sabotaged.

By my friends who are now parents. And they aren’t even aware of their work.

Unbeknownst to so many of them, I am being constantly derided (albeit it unconsciously) for being an inexperienced, non-parent via innumerable warnings and—dare I say—patronising about how my life will change when I have kids.

That date I went on with my husband? Perfect opportunity to remind me how rare that will be once I have children. See that bikini-clad woman on the beach? “She won’t have a stomach like that after she’s popped one out,” I’m told with a huff. If I happen to mention my early 4am rising I know it’s a mistake: “You better get used to it,” I’m cautioned, “no more sleeping in when you’re up through the night with an infant”. “Need a rest from playing with my children? Ha, just you wait; there’s no resting when you’re a parent.”

I’ll never be alone but will feel alone. I’ll forever and ever have this little person to worry about and my husband and I will no longer be each other’s favourite thing.

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This.
This.

And apparently I’m going to immediately turn into a fatter version of myself with bags under my eyes, hideous crow’s feet and deflated breasts that sag to the ground.

Of course these statements are always followed up with how they wouldn’t change being a parent for the world. They love their children. They love being a parent.

And the thing is, I know. I believe them.

I get that I’m not going to have the time I’m used to. That I’m going to be exhausted. That my husband and I can’t spontaneously decide to go out for a three-hour degustation with matching wines. And I understand that my body will alter and I will get older and more wrinkled—though I’d like to point out that this happens kids or not.

I knew all this and was still on-board with wanting to become mommy. With anything, I realise that no matter how much someone prepares you, until you go through it yourself you won’t truly appreciate what it means.

So why keep making me feel like I’m some kind of dumbass who thinks I’ll still be able to live the life I currently lead exactly as it is now?

As quick and harmless as it may seem to the people making these countless remarks, accumulatively it’s enough to make a person embarking on parenting go crazy with over-thinking and analysing extensively whether now or later is the opportune time. Not to mention feel guilty for being without child.

(Perhaps a new way I should look at it is to realise that these mothers and fathers, with their well-intentioned comments, will have to stop making them once I am, in fact, a parent!)

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But really, my advice to parents with friends who are not is this: Don’t forget that if your childless friends are hearing your ‘once you’re a parent’ statements, they are probably hearing it from others too. So lay off a bit, okay?

If you’re really exhausted or frustrated, just say so, we’ll listen. No need to couch your emotions in ‘you can’t possibly understand till you’re a parent’ language, tinged with condescension. Just tell us how you really feel.

Wendy Love
Wendy Love

What I have learned is that I will never be prepared for being a parent and there is never a perfect time to become one. And I genuinely believe both those statements are true.

All the parents I know adore their children and feel raising them enriches their lives in ways they never imagined. And I see in their eyes how happy their little ones make them.

I am incredibly grateful to all the fathers and mothers in my life for demonstrating the myriad ways to raise a child and they forever impress me.

We non-parents get that some of you need to let off some steam and are probably just in shock sometimes at your lives being tossed upside down, but try to reframe how you express those emotions and don’t sell yourselves short—you’re all amazing and I despite this post I really do hope to join you one day soon.

Besides, not one of you actually has deflated breasts that sag to the ground!

Wendy is a former broadcast journalist who now freelances while working to launch a non-profit focussed news publication. She is originally from the USA but has called Brisbane her home for most of the last decade. Her appetite for Mexican food is annoyingly insatiable and she writes from her coveted sit-stand desk.

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