Occasionally I come across a blog post saying something like this “So all my friends are having babies and I just really don’t understand why they’ve all lost themselves. I mean does having a baby mean the end of life? Of adulthood? Why do they put their kids first all the time? Why can’t they hang out with friends like they used to, drink some cocktails, GET A LIFE?”
I read a blog recently by some childless bag – wait, I didn’t mean that – I meant “blogger” who was simply appalled, aghast, offended, by the way her friends had just morphed into these pathetic adult imposters, consumed by their children, simply lifeless. I would link to it but I’m afraid you all would slaughter her with your wit and intelligence. That was not a sarcastic statement.
I’ll be honest, the first thing I wanted to do was rant like a psycho, but I’m not going to. Because I’m above that. Right?
Oh of course I’m not. I think I’ve proven that enough times.
However, in an entirely uncustomary gesture, I’m going to give these people the benefit of the doubt and assume they aren’t simply pricks, but instead really just don’t get it.
Yeah, I know. Mother Theresa and whatnot.
So, as a sort of public service announcement to people who write things like the aforementioned, I’m going to provide a little insider info on the topic, hoping to help them understand how their new-parent friends morphed into such despicably boring, haggard versions of their former selves.
First of all, childless people who can’t understand the degradation of your friends (NOT ALL CHILDLESS PEOPLE, OBVIOUSLY), I need to clear something up, right out of the gate: Most of the time you’re hanging out with us, WE’RE FUCKING FAKING IT. We only LOOK normal. We’re not normal. We’re losing our shit. But we don’t want you to see that because you’re childless and won’t understand. You’re still living in this alternate universe where things like “dinner dates” are enjoyable, or at least have the potential to be enjoyable.
Allow me to illustrate:
You want us to “hang out with friends” more often, presumably without kids, right? Did I get that right? Okay, check this out.
We’re meeting you and your significant other for dinner. Dinner on a Friday evening at a restaurant 45-minutes away, at 7pm. That sounds, easy, RIGHT? Well yes it is.
Here’s your experience: Come home from work, screw around on the internet, have a glass of wine, a snack, hop in the shower, bathe yourself leisurely, get out, towel off, peruse the closet, get dressed. Have your partner get ready. Pour another class of wine, maybe chat with a friend on speakerphone while you put on make-up, do your hair, put on shoes, get in the car at 6pm so you don’t have to rush…order a cocktail when you get there. Have dinner with friends, go out for a drink after, dance a little to work off dinner. Come home around 1am, have sex, sleep til 9am or 10am. Wake up to some coffee, chat about how sad it is that your friends have all “lost themselves” after they have kids.
Do you know what this little soiree looks like for us? No, no you don’t. But because I love you, I’m going to tell you. Here you go.
Dinner date with another couple at 7pm on a Friday at a restaurant 45 minutes away for a couple with a toddler and a baby…
Begin worrying about it approximately 5 minutes after the date is made because:
Who the fuck is going to watch the kids?
- Grandparents? Best option, but they live 30 minutes away, which will make getting to the restaurant in time impossible because there’s Friday traffic. You could leave work early but not really because you already did it twice this month for baby doctor appointments. Plus, after dinner you’ll have to drive super far and Childless Friends are probably going to want drinks after…
- Hire a babysitter? Well, at $20.00/hour, from 6pm until at least 11pm, that’s $100, which will make this evening (not including gas) at least $200. Holy SHIT!
- One of us goes and the other stays home? No, then our Childless Friends will think we’ve lost ourselves and can’t “date” anymore, and all those stupid online forums say you simply MUST “date” your husband if you want the marriage to last. DAMNITALLTOHELL.
Guess we’ll go with babysitter. Hire the babysitter.
Spend the next two weeks going about your life, completely forgetting about the dinner date because life is insane and chaotic and never stops, until that afternoon when the reminder pops up on your iPhone and you almost wet your pants in fear (shoulda done those kegels!).
Race from work to daycare, call husband fifty times to remind him of the damn dinner date because you KNOW he’s forgotten. Plus, he was up all night with the baby who’s teething so he’ll definitely not be into this. Holy shit he’s teething! OMG I’m leaving my baby when he’s teething!
I can’t do it.
Call husband to announce teething and discuss how the hell you’re going to leave an insane infant with a non-family-member. Realize your husband has no opinion on the subject. DEMAND A DIVORCE IMMEDIATELY (in your head).
Figure out on your own what to do (as always, I mean seriously): baby Tylenol. Remember you used the last of it. Remember husband was supposed to buy some yesterday.
Ask husband. Hear “I forgot.”
KICK HIM IN THE BALLS. (in your head). Tell him to get Tylenol on the way home and you can’t live under these conditions anymore. Answer approximately 750 questions from your toddler girl as you drive home trying to figure out the maelstrom ahead of you. Pull in the driveway. Leave all the kids’ daycare stuff (bags bottles, nap mat sheet, 12 pounds of paperwork, art work, etc.) in the car because you can’t handle it.
Walk in the door, realize you left one of the dogs in the house so there’s piss on the kitchen floor. The toddler just walked in it. It’s 5:35. Freak out because it’s 5:35.
Try to plug toddler into television. Nurse pissed off infant. Make sure there’s pumped milk in the freezer. O thank god, two bags. Hear the husband come home. Want to punch him in the face.
Give baby to husband and get in the shower. Remember you haven’t shaved in three weeks and the only dress you have that fits your post-partum body is knee-length, which requires shaving but THERE’S NO TIME. Consider other clothes. None. Tights? Yeah right.
Shave. Wonder how to do your hair. Wonder how long it’s been. Wonder if you even have a blow-dryer.
Hear your baby screaming. Try to block it out.
Babysitter arrives. Get out of the shower while yelling instructions to the babysitter through the door. Wonder why the hell your husband isn’t getting ready. Yell at him too. Wonder if you have any clean underwear.
Put on Spanx, nursing pads and the dress. Look for shoes. Realize there’s only one shoe. Remember toddler playing in the closet this morning so you could take care of the baby. Holy fuck the toddler has REMOVED THE SHOE.
The only dress shoes I have!
Mayday! Mayday! I’m missing a shoe. It’s been deposited somewhere by a TODDLER, which means it’s in the ONLY PLACE IN THE WORLD you’d NEVER think it will be, possibly in the toilet.
Run around the house like a madwoman looking for the godforsaken shoe, find it in the dog crate, chewed by the other bastard canine.
Put on shoes that don’t go with the dress at all, realize Childless Friends will think you’ve lost all fashion sense. Realize you have.
See that it’s 6:10. Squeal.
Freak out at your husband. Notice he’s dressed, but wearing a shirt that needs about 20-minutes of ironing. Also observe he hasn’t showered even though he’s an ironworker. (Wait. Maybe that’s just me.)
Bolt out the door anyway, leaving behind a forlorn toddler and a baby who’s teething and OMG the dog piss on the floor and shit I forgot to tell the babysitter about the Tylenol and potty-training and not to put the breast milk in the microwave – wait, I told her that, right? – I mean she’s done it before. Look down and see baby vomit.
On the only dress you have that fits.
Wipe it off. Tell yourself breast milk puke doesn’t smell that bad.
Get in the car, start driving, spend the whole trip on the phone with the baby sitter, giving her details you forgot and trying to apply make-up.
Arrive at the restaurant at 7:10, smiling calmly with your hand in your husband’s, ready to “enjoy a relaxing, adult evening.” Act pulled-together, happy to be there, adult, social.
“How are you guys? How are the kids?”
“We’re great! It’s so great to see you! It’s just so great to be OUT, having a LIFE!”
Want to vomit as you realize your baby is at home, teething, without you.
Go through dinner…enjoying yourself, sort of, but also kind of faking it, because honesty will scare these people away and possibly result in the discontinuation of humanity. I mean who’s going to have kids when they realize The Truth?
Wait, was that my outside voice? Totally didn’t mean that.
So there, Childless People wondering why we’re such losers, do you get it a little better? Are you seeing things a little more clearly?
Maybe you see two adults who’ve added this baby to their lives, like an accessory, like a pet, like this new cute thing you carry around when you want it and drop when you don’t.
That’s what you see.
We, however, are LIVING something different.
We are having fundamentally different experiences of reality.
At every moment. In every interaction. We may look normal, we may look right there with ya, but you have NO IDEA HOW MUCH WORK it took to get ourselves to where we sit right now, in this restaurant, dressed, childless…
So please, don’t hate, when after a bottle or two of wine you and your Childless Cohort suggest a cocktail at this great place down the road and we look at you with a smile, trying to muster the energy, remembering the babysitter money rolling down the bowl of the toilet, and the toddler snoozing in her big-girl bed, and the baby…who could be crying…wait, do I have a text from the babysitter? – and the exhaustion, of the new life, the priorities that have shifted.
Don’t hate, just see, that you aren’t the most important thing in our lives anymore, and frankly, neither is that damn cocktail.
Also, we’re really fucking tired. Like really, really really tired. Like a tired that rests on our bones, all the time.
And there’s no sleeping in for those “adult imposters.”
You know, those people with “no life,” raising life, providing life, trying to adjust to a new life, remembering their old life, with people like you in it, kind of wishing we could go back there, when things were simpler and easier and more glamorous, and there was leisure and after-dinner cocktails, and…
then again, maybe not.