I swear I didn’t want to start 2012 being so, uhm, UNFRIENDLY, but experience taught me that if you don’t put it out there, people WON’T be able to read your mind. I wrote the following post while my brain was foggy with sleep deprivation (and obviously aware that this must NOT be the case of other mums out there, who must have wonderfully understanding friends), so whoever reads this, keep one thing in mind: I’m really nice after a full night’s sleep.
This is a post for the childless. Those of you out there who don’t yet have kids, but do have friends with young babies and toddlers, and for some strange reason or another decided to continue hanging out with them. Oh, don’t make that face: we all know that once your friends start having babies, and you’re not QUITE there yet, you freak out/get bored/get annoyed at their sudden – how can you explain? – OBSESSION with it. It’s all about the bloody babies, isn’t it? It’s just unbelievable how it suddenly takes over their WHOLE life, and you just can’t for the life of you understand WHY they’re always so tired? I mean, what the hell do you DO all day with a baby? Surely it’s not that difficult. And how DARE they leave the house WITHOUT MAKE-UP when they CLEARLY need it! I mean, those were some pretty serious dark circles under those eyes, my god. I’m SO never having kids.
Yeah. We know what you’re thinking. It’s almost like you want your parent friend to apologise for daring to become a parent and INFLICT that situation on you. Like Samantha in that Sex & The City episode, when she gets annoyed at having to share restaurant SPACE with a child (and then the kid throws pasta in her face, which I now find it really funny). Or that other one, when Carrie has her beloved Manolos stolen at a baby shower and then goes on a quest to prove that she is ENTITLED to receiving gifts for being single (pffff). Well, here are the news: as much as baby poo does not figure at the top of your priorities list for 2012, getting smashed after work every wednesday night is not the first of our concerns either.
In other words: We’re not THAT into each other. Not at the moment, anyway.
HOWEVER. If you have a history together, or you just won’t be able to avoid each other, most likely you will continue being friends regardless. SO, as the mum in the story, I’ve listed a few guidelines below for you, childless friend, to negotiate this rough path that it’s now your friendship with a recently reproductive person.
Or at least, to avoid having a dirty nappy being thrown at your face as revenge. No need to thank me.
1 – Don’t EVER, ever say “God, I’ve slept too much, I’m so tired now.”
The biggest sin EVER. EVER, EVER. Sleep deprivation is one of the uncool things that happen when you’re brand new into motherhood, and if you haven’t yet noticed, sleep deprived parents become irrational beings sometimes, and tend to turn into resentful creatures if their buttons are pushed. There’s a saying in Brazil that goes “don’t count money in front of the poor”, and that’s exactly what it feels like when you COMPLAIN about too much sleep. So if you don’t want your friend to have criminal thoughts about you, better to just keep this one to yourself.
2 – Don’t say “I don’t know how you do it, hun”
Probably one of the most annoying sentences ever uttered in the history of motherhood. Just because there’s a chick-lit book (and now a film) similarly entitled, does not give you the right to say it to your friend when you see her having some sort of struggle. It’s CONDESCENDING and PATRONISING, for god’s sake. It sounds like “Yeah, your life is pretty shit right now, I’d never make the same choices. PHEW, I’m glad I’m not you.” Would you like if someone took a look at your sexless relationship/9-to-5 slave job/pitiful wardrobe and said the same thing? If we’re complaining about something, all we want to do is exactly that: to VENT. You can say “It’s only temporary, darling, soon we’ll be laughing at this”, instead, and we’ll be BFFs.
3 – Don’t come for dinner/coffee/film and sit on the sofa waiting for things to materialise in front of you.
Let me tell you something: babies and toddlers KEEP THEIR MUMS BUSY. Constantly. From the moment they wake up to the moment they go to bed (and most probably when they’re asleep too). I didn’t know it either, till I realised how the piles of laundry and dishes never seem to get smaller, much to the contrary. So ANY help with ANYTHING is very much appreciated, specially if the job itself is to serve YOU. We definitely appreciate the company and the opportunity of having adult conversation, but we definitely don’t need an extra dependant. Get off your butt.
4- Always, ALWAYS offer to do the dishes. And DO INSIST if your friend says “don’t bother, I’ll do it later.”
Same reason as the one above. If we say we’ll do it later, that “later” word has a very elastic connotation: it could be days, weeks even, till your used coffee mug gets a proper scrub. And nothing makes a bad day WORSE than looking at a messy kitchen and not being able to FIX it.
5- Do offer to pick up / entertain the baby.
Even if you’re afraid of the little creature. One of the coolest things for us to see is a friend bonding with our child – specially as it means there will be an extra pair of arms to hold the baby while we can hold other things like a magazine, a tea cup and the iPhone. At the same time.
6 – Don’t rub it in.
As is “Don’t tell me how much you can’t wait to spend three days in a Spa after shopping all day and spending the equivalent of two months rent in a pair of Louboutins, which you will be wearing tonight at that fabulous birthday bash at Shoreditch House, where you plan to get ridiculously drunk and that’s why you’re checking yourself in at the Spa afterwards because the hangover will be EPIC”.
Parenthood, as you must have noticed, is synonym to responsibility – in other words, less chances to be reckless (or a total imbecile, depends on how you look at it?). It’s fun, we get it, and we can’t wait to join in sometime in the future, but for now can we talk about something else?
To be honest, this is a rule I’d apply to anything. Bragging about stuff is never cool. In any situation. So stop it, will you?
7- But don’t pity us
EVER. If we became a parent, it is because WE CHOSE to do so (in most cases, i think). Mums OWN UP to their situation, even if they don’t like it much. I’m gonna sound completely condescending and patronising now, but this is something the childless will never understand (don’t you hate when parents say that?): because people with no children can always quit whatever it is they’re not enjoying, is makes them by default WEAKER than ANY mum in the world. We’re essentially STRONGER simply because we HAVE to be – so we definitely don’t give a s*** about pity looks.
7 – Don’t say “My child will never do that”
When you talk about the parenting skills of other mums you know, all we can think of is: OH THE INNOCENCE. Of course (s)he will do whatever it is you don’t like, and (s)he’ll probably do worse than that, making you eat your own words marvellously. It happens to ALL of us. Which is why WE parents can’t wait to see it happening. I’m joking, obviously. Or am I? Who knows. I’m sleep deprived, I don’t make much sense.