opposite sides of the fence

September 27, 2010

before i had kids people would often say things like, "you just don't understand" and, "you'll get it when you have kids of your own, everything will change."  frankly, it drove me up the wall.  as if just because my lady-organs grew another human i was suddenly going to find the path to their (very specific) idea of enlightenment.  as my pregnancy progressed i grew more and more determined– having a baby would not change me.

did parenthood change me?  some behaviors and opinions, surely so.  i've learned, grown, and experienced things that i otherwise wouldn't have; i've been schooled in patience and acceptance and the middle path.  i'm happier than i've ever been and life is good, but my quintessential core remains what it was.  jude's exit didn't make fairies or rainbows or flowers shoot all over the world.  jesus didn't pop out of the woodwork and say, "oh hey jamie, what's up? isn't all this stuff i made for you the tits? i bet you really appreciate everything more now that you've had a baby."

life is different, though, and there's no denying it.  i worry about bedtimes and laundry and nutritious foods.  i stay in rather than go out and we cook rather than order in.  the perfect end to a long day is brownies and good tv instead of martinis and dancing– i've never been happier to admit it and embrace it with open arms.

which brings me to this essential question:  is there an integral difference between parents and non-parents?

my gut says, NO! but from a practical standpoint... maybe there is.

being a parent puts a stress on your time.  every minute is valuable– every minute with them; every minute without them.  time passes in the blink of an eye and i spend my days worried about the details of someone else's heart instead of my own.  as such, the way i enjoy things has changed.  my time is incredibly valuable and wasting it is like a kick in the face.  i could have been showering.  or worse, i could have been with my boy and instead i was (fill in the blank with something stupid).

but on the other hand, there are plenty of parents out there who aren't like that.  ones who don't give a shit.  we'd probably label them "bad parents" but they exist.  so maybe it isn't an issue of parents vs. non-parents, maybe the crux of the battle is at a certain kind of maturity.  can someone who has that maturity cross the bridge with someone who doesn't?  i'd pin a lot of lost friendships on that question, as almost every new parent i know will tell you.

parenthood is a new world and a unique set of worries, not necessarily better or more magical, but certainly different.  i think that's where my anger at the "you just don't understand yet" commenters springs from– my life before i had a baby was just as valuable as my life now.  implying that my life after-kids will be so much better implies that my life before was meaningless and unenlightened.  it wasn't.  i'm at peace now, things are awesome.  but i was happy before and it's rude to diminish those experiences because you didn't even understand what life was about before you had your precious little babykins and now you're complete.  well fuck you, i was complete before i had a baby, what do you think about that?  and now i'm just a REALLY HAPPY mama.  is that enough?  it is for me.

dear readers, what do you think?  is there an integral difference between parents and non-parents?  have you been able to maintain friendships with your child-less friends?  did parenthood change you?
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