I was watching an episode of Frankie & Grace last night (If you haven’t seen this, seriously go watch!) and the episode briefly touched on something I was told last week. “You’re not a real mother. You wouldn’t understand.” I also made the mistake of reading the comments following a blog post about this topic and read over and over again “You’re not a mother. You do not understand.” Seems kind of harsh, but as you read the following sentence, some of you will agree: I’m 31 years old, and childless.
A friend of mine posted a question on Facebook, and I responded explaining how I used to deal with a specific situation. She completely dismissed me out of hand saying “You’re not a real mother. You wouldn’t understand.”
She’s right. I don’t have a child of my own (though I affectionately call DK’s kid, my own, let’s be honest. I’m the g/f. I have no rights nor would I assume to have any). This still didn’t mean it hurt any less when my friend uttered those words. You’re not a REAL mother. You wouldn’t understand. She’s not wrong, but she’s not completely right either.
I know that I’ll never be a biological mother. I’ve dealt with those emotions. I don’t feel like a failure as a woman. I don’t feel my biological clock ticking but sometimes I do feel that sense of envy when I watch my friends pop out one baby after another. I’ll spend Christmas morning watching videos of my friends children opening gifts and laughing in excitement. I’ll happy look at pictures of your kids and celebrate wholeheartedly as they reach milestones in their lives. Not as good as having kids of my own, but part of being an adult is adapting to life so you take the scraps you get, yeah?
Which leads me to this point, I have spent several years of my life teaching, taking care of, and raising other people’s children. You cannot tell me as a former toddler classroom teacher that I do not understand having a toddler pitch a fit in the store. Honey, I used to have a classroom with 10 two year olds at one time, for 40 hours a week. Believe me when I tell you how to handle a hissy fit. (Mini rant – sorry not sorry)
Am I saying I’d be a better parent? Absolutely not. I’m simply telling you what worked for me before because the truth is, having your kid throw a huge tantrum in the middle of Kroger is exhausting and sometimes embarrassing. Sometimes you don’t know what to do. You have to get the shopping done, make dinner, do laundry and a hundred other things and here your kid is having a nightmare of a hissy fit in front of half your neighbors and a store full of judgmental shoppers.
Sometimes it’s just very fucking hard. You look at your precious bundle of joy and think “Who is this tiny Satan? Where is my darling angel with sweet chubby cheeks? Is there a baby parasitic alien growing inside of you that’s going to rip my face off? If there is, can you please do it at home and not now in front of God and all his witnesses.”
Sometimes there’s that moment when your 4 yr old is screaming because his hand is stuck in the wrong shirt hole, you’re going to late for work and the oldest is in the car honking the horn when you think “I can leave him. He’s four. He can make a sandwich and watch Netflix all day. He’ll be fine.” But then you realized company is coming over for dinner and you don’t have time to clean the house again so you grab him by the arm, put the right body parts in the right holes, pick up that screaming child mid volcanic meltdown and drive them them to school while they eat chocolate chip cookies for breakfast cause you grabbed the wrong box so instead of cereal bars, your mini dementors get chips ahoys! Doesn’t matter, you got to work with two minutes to spare. Sometimes that’s the biggest success you have as a parent. You survived the morning. Yay parenting! Aren’t you glad you read my blog post today!
This does not mean you’re a bad parent. This simply means you are exhausted. It’s a very valid and normal feeling. There is no shame in your kid throwing a fit. In fact, if you see a bewildered parent with a child throwing a hissy fit, instead of judging or giving them a sympathetic glance, how about walking over with your own rowdy brood and saying “Hey darlin, I’m so and so. How can I help?” Better yet, buy that woman a cup of coffee. She probably needs it.
I kind of got off topic here but my point was this: We do ourselves and our community a huge disfavor by saying “You’re not a parent, you’ll never understand.” I do understand that it’s a never ending roller coaster of emotions that bring so much delight and terror in your life. I do understand the joy of a having a child read a word on their own for the first time, learning to swim, and the sadness of them having trouble making friends on the playground, hearing a teacher say “Your child is a year behind her peers in reading” or the infuriating fact that children will always grow exactly two inches between the time you tried on clothes in the fitting room and driven home.
Please don’t count me out. Don’t count out the millions of childless men and women unable to have children of our own for physical or financial reasons. We can and do love your children as our own. We are not weird. We’re not creepy. We’re simply part of the village that helps raise your children.
We’re simply saying this:
We know what it means to love a child with every breath you have in your body.
After all, isn’t that what being a parent is?
Toddlers and hissy fits: We had a thick hissy fit rug in the classroom. Toddler could have a meltdown in a safe space because sometimes toddlers just need to cry and scream for a minute. I kept an eye on them from the other side of the room, but continued the class as normal. Then after the toddler stopped screaming, I would address their feelings, offer comfort then get them busy with an activity. This worked really well at home too with Bubbles. Have mercy that child could scream. She averaged about five a week till almost 4. But now she simply says “I feel angry. I’m going to my room” and proceeds to scream in her pillow. (THANK YOU LILO AND STITCH!)
Georgia children to teacher ratios for 27 months – 36 months is currently ten toddlers to 1 teacher. Absolutely asinine!
Please excuse editing mistakes. My inner editor called in sick this morning.