As a Southern 26-year-old, I’m living a life that’s more Friday Night Lights than Sex and the City, (as evidenced by my incredibly dated television references). With that, comes a social media news feed that has long since tired of weddings and even first babies. Not only have I seen third and fourth children, but I’ve got multiple friends from high school who post about their infertility issues. Over sharing aside, this is pretty standard. We live in a land ruled by country music and religion; the former of which tells us that it’s only true romance if we make a lifetime commitment before we can legally drink and the latter of which tells us that there is no… way… out… ever. Sooooo, although I consider myself plenty young, I know a lot of moms and am completely aware of the ridiculous phenomenon that is the Mommy Wars.
If you’re unaware of the phrase, the Mommy Wars are waged between some mothers who aren’t just content to know that they’re doing their best, but feel the need to criticize every other woman’s best. While I don’t have children, I did have a pregnancy that ended in a miscarriage, in which I got just a brief taste of the Mommy Wars. You see, as a breast reduction recipient, who was still in school, I decided that breastfeeding was just not for me. In all honesty, it still isn’t, barring any out of the ordinary medical needs. For the near three months that I was pregnant, however, I got to hear endless opinions on my very personal choice. I still do. For a topic that breastfeeding moms take so seriously as being their decision, it was/is apparently not my right to decide against it. So, in addition to not really being ready for kids, I’m pretty glad to be left out of the Mommy Wars… or at least I thought I was.
Recently, there’s been a video going around Facebook and other social media, that I’m certain was made all in good fun. In it, a young mother, with her hands full, has taken to the Internet to express the difficulty she has keeping in touch and relating to her friends who don’t have kids yet.
“Wait, no. I’m actually thinking about all the free time you have. It’s so weird. You could leave here, drive to Vegas, see Britney Spears, or even take a nap.”
In my eclectic blogging tastes, I’ve read many mommy blogs expressing frustration with the assumption that stay-at-home-moms don’t “work.” These women rant about friends asking what they do all day, or insisting that they would be bored, or claiming they do all of those things and have full time jobs. Yes. All of those comments are offensive. However, they’re actually just as offensive as the many articles and blogs implying that a woman without children has no responsibilities or priorities or stress in her life.
Wait, wait, wait. How in the hell, did I get recruited into these ludicrous Mommy Wars for not having children? I hope that the women who say things like this, can remember life before marriage and children in a more respectful way than assuming that we can all just drop everything and do whatever we want. I may not have children, but I’m still working two jobs, sending out resumes, preparing for interviews, paying all of my bills, taking care of all of my errands and chores, maintaining friendships and family relationships, and looking for love.
That’s another thing, married mommies. You’ve found your partner and that’s wonderful, but can you not look back just a couple of years, and remember the stress and uncertainty of wondering if things would ever fall into place? Can you not remember being the only person who could take the car to get the oil changed, wait for the cable guy, drop the dog off at the vet, go grocery shopping, or pick up that last minute Christmas present? Can you not remember crying to your best friend about how you were going to DIE ALONE after another terrible date? Have you really forgotten the times you dug straight into a carton of ice cream and watched Bridget Jones’s Diary like a parody of the dating single woman? What about coming up with the rent, the car payment, the electric bill, the insurance, the grocery money, and every other expenditure alone? I’m accused of an inability to empathize, but you’ve been here and have apparently completely forgotten that we’re not all Carrie Fucking Bradshaw.
Speaking of empathy, this man writes a very nice letter to his friends explaining the shift in his priorities and friendships. Sure, it’s a nice thought, but even as someone with no children, I realize they exist. Dude, I know that you can’t ignore the child screaming at you to “LOOK! LOOK!” as they jump in the pool in exactly the same way they did the last 17 times. I don’t need an explanation for why you have to serve the children their hot dogs first or can’t ignore the fact that someone just took a shit in the bathtub. I get that their needs come before mine. I don’t expect you to go to bars with me until 1:00 in the morning. I don’t even do that with my childless friends. Perhaps the reason I’m acting annoyed with you, is that patronizing tone you’re using while apologizing for having to leave the conversation to deal with someone else’s bodily fluids.
I’m not saying that parents don’t have a lot on their plates. I’m saying that everyone does. We’re all busy and live in a culture where being busy is some kind of achievement to one-up. We all have different issues and problems and stresses, but for some reason, if that stress has ten little fingers and ten little toes, it’s somehow so far beyond our childless comprehension that all of our problems and priorities pale in comparison to yours. Assuming you’re not a librarian or a teacher, I don’t understand the precise stresses of your career, either. I can still listen, empathize, and be quiet while you take your work call. According to the Internet, though, if you’re a parent, suddenly everything I have to say has become about nail polish and designer handbags, because you’re talking about teething and vaccines? No. That’s not how it works. If I never have kids, my priorities still matter just as much as yours when you have child number six.
Fortunately for me, of the many mommy friends I have, no one has ever implied that my life and responsibilities are less important, or nonexistent, because they don’t involve raising children. Maybe I just have better friends. Maybe I’m just a better friend to my friends with kids. Maybe the Internet is just a place to exaggerate and vent. Regardless, I’m years away from tearing up my Mommy Wars draft notice, so it would be fantastic if I were left out of all of these battles.
*Clearly, I’m not the only one annoyed by this. Even Parenting magazine knows it gets old.