Friday, July 9, 2010

Why don't friends with kids have time?


By Carolyn Hax
Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Dear Carolyn:

Best friend has child.

Her: Exhausted, busy, no time for self, no time for me, etc.

Me (no kids): Wow. Sorry. What'd you do today?

Her: Park, play group . . .

Okay. I've done Internet searches, I've talked to parents. I don't get it. What do stay-at-home moms do all day? Please no lists of library, grocery store, dry cleaners . . . I do all those things, too, and I don't do them EVERY DAY. I guess what I'm asking is: What is a typical day and why don't moms have time for a call or e-mail? I work and am away from home nine hours a day (plus a few late work events) and I manage to get it all done. I'm feeling like the kid is an excuse to relax and enjoy -- not a bad thing at all -- but if so, why won't my friend tell me the truth? Is this a contest ("My life is so much harder than yours")? What's the deal? I've got friends with and without kids and all us child-free folks get the same story and have the same questions.

-Tacoma, Wash.

Dear Tacoma: Relax and enjoy. You're funny.

Or you're lying about having friends with kids.

Or you're taking them at their word that they actually have kids, because you haven't personally been in the same room with them.

Internet searches?

I keep wavering between giving you a straight answer and giving my forehead some keyboard. To claim you want to understand, while in the same breath implying that the only logical conclusions are that your mom-friends are either lying or competing with you, is disingenuous indeed.

So, since it's validation you seem to want, the real answer is what you get. In list form. When you have young kids, your typical day is: constant attention, from getting them out of bed, fed, clean, dressed; to keeping them out of harm's way; to answering their coos, cries, questions; to having two arms and carrying one kid, one set of car keys, and supplies for even the quickest trips, including the latest-to-be-declared-essential piece of molded plastic gear; to keeping them from unshelving books at the library; to enforcing rest times; to staying one step ahead of them lest they get too hungry, tired or bored, any one of which produces the kind of checkout-line screaming that gets the checkout line shaking its head.

It's needing 45 minutes to do what takes others 15.

It's constant vigilance, constant touch, constant use of your voice, constant relegation of your needs to the second tier.

It's constant scrutiny and second-guessing from family and friends, well-meaning and otherwise. It's resisting constant temptation to seek short-term relief at everyone's long-term expense.

It's doing all this while concurrently teaching virtually everything -- language, manners, safety, resourcefulness, discipline, curiosity, creativity. Empathy. Everything.

It's also a choice, yes. And a joy. But if you spent all day, every day, with this brand of joy, and then, when you got your first 10 minutes to yourself, wanted to be alone with your thoughts instead of calling a good friend, a good friend wouldn't judge you, complain about you to mutual friends, or marvel how much more productively she uses her time. Either make a sincere effort to understand or keep your snit to yourself.


Smart and Trendy Moms



Jenny said...

Love it!!! True! Every single word. I'm a new follower from Follow Me Chickadee!

Natasha said...

I have just cut back to part-time work and I had forgotten how hard it is to be a mum at home, on call, all of the time! It is definitely a 24 hour job! Great post!

Best wishes and happy weekend,

Mommy said...

Love it!

With our best said...

GREAT SITE!! I can't wait to explore more!! I am your newest FRIDAY follower!

Plz visit and follow at:

Ashley Sisk said...

I'd love to be a SAHM one day and I read the reader's question and thought "really?" Your response is classy and direct - I like that. I'm following you today from Chickadee Friday.

SonjaMichelle said...

Wow! Like I needed another reason NOT to have kids.

Mrs. Haid said...

Yeah, Tacoma, keep your snit to yourself!!

I love having 10 minutes alone and quiet, even if it means shutting my eyes and zoning out. There is just so much of being ON all the time, which is just like my teaching jobs, except that these are YOUR kids, not others, so you try even harder not to screw up.

LKP said...

well-said, chrissy! =)

lisad33611 said...

HA HA! I LOVE THIS POST! So true! Being a SAHM sounds easy, but it's very hard! Stopping by from Follow Me Friday, I'm a new follower! Great blog! Hope you get a chance to stop by my blog!

Victoria said...

That is so true!!

I'm your newest follower from follow me chickadee Fridays :)


MrsJennyB said...

what a great post!! SOOO well said!! especially the part about the constant scrutiny from others.... o mannnnnnnn :p

Barb said...

Very well answered - though I think it will still for the writer be a case of not understanding. If you have never been there you just don't get it.

Maybe she should be a GREAT friend and babysit for a weekend, so her mom-friend can have a bit of us-time with her hub. Bet she will understand after day 1

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