Saturday, April 20, 2013

We're Busy Too: The Case for People Without Kids

I'm going to preface this to state that I recognize people are probably going to read this in a way that may come across as offensive - that is not my intention.  I just like to voice things other people sometimes don't want to say, but need to be said. 

I promised a follow up to my broke-people blog, so here it is.

A few nights ago a friend and I were discussing our busy lives.  Something that came up was how her sister had essentially guilted her into doing something because the sister has a kid, and my friend doesn't.  The assumption was that, because my friend didn't have a kid, it was her obligation to be willing to bend her desires to her sister's needs. To be unavailable to help her would be selfish, right? After all, that's what family is for!

"The truth is, I CHOOSE not to have kids right now for a reason," says my friend, "and I feel like until I have one my needs are never going to be taken into account in making any family decisions - what time are we going to meet for dinner? Who's going to drive whom where? Maybe that IS selfish, but it's not fair.  I may not have a kid, but I have obligations. At this rate, I might as well go ahead and start having kids because I'm already losing my right to make decisions for myself anyway."

This same friend then felt guilty for even expressing this concern. As though she'd just confessed to being selfish. The truth is, it opened me up to say some things I'd been afraid to express out of my own fears of sounding insensitive or selfish.

Before I start saying what I'm about to say, I want to clarify that I want to be a mom pretty much more than anything else - except maybe being a wife, I think I want to be a wife most of all, but definitely a mom too, right behind wife (if you don't glean that from this post, check THIS one). It is JUST THAT desire that leads me to my thoughts on this.

So I'm going to say what a lot of people don't want to say: JUST BECAUSE I DON'T HAVE KIDS DOESN'T MEAN I HAVE ALL THE FREE TIME I WANT.

Sure, I have a LOT of freedom right now. I take that as a blessing. When I decided to go to grad school, I didn't have to factor in childcare, or consult my husband - I got to make that decision on my own. I DID however have to factor in how that decision would affect the family I plan to have one day (what kind of job am I going to be able to have with this degree? how much money can I afford to take out in loans?  HOW ON EARTH AM I SUPPOSED TO DECIDE THIS WHEN I DONT KNOW MY FUTURE?!) and THAT'S a really scary decision to make on your own (See HERE).  One of the infinite number of reasons I pray every day that God will send me a husband really soon is so that I can have someone else to help me make decisions - and so I'll at least have some idea of the trajectory I need to be on with these choices.

In the meantime I have to fight off the thoughts that tell me it's my choices that have led me away from being able to get married and have kids at this point in life. I didn't CHOOSE that, it's just fallen that way. I'm sure there are a LOT of single women out there who would tell you the same thing. We look like driven career women who don't want families right now, and many are, but many of us are simply as occupied with our jobs as we are because we need to do SOMETHING fulfilling in the meantime while we wait for our own chance to have a family - and eventually we'd like to find a way to balance the two :)

So, that leads me to my main point : TIME.

I get it, moms are busy. Stay at home mom's don't get the credit they should for all the work they do. Yes, I agree with both of the above statements, but you know what, I'm busy too, as are many many of my friends who don't have kids.

We're exhausted. So are you. LIFE is exhausting. Not all single people without kids are as busy as I am - I get that, but not all mom's are as busy as YOU are either. And some are, GASP, even busier!

I leave my house before 7:00am most days. I usually don't get home until after 9:00pm.  That's five days a week, not to mention on Fridays when I get home around 1am, then throw in Sundays where I'm occupied with church stuff for most of the day. Somewhere in the midst of that I too have to find time to grocery shop, run errands, eat, etc. and then stay on top of readings and paper writing. - not to mention the emotional exhaustion of spending my days taking care of, teaching, and counseling OTHER people's kids.

 I wouldn't trade ANY of those things. I LOVE my internship, I love my job, and I love school. But don't be confused when I get a snippet of time that I'm NOT obligated to be somewhere and I don't want to sacrifice that little bit of "disposable time" to cater to your needs because you have a kid and I don't. Not that this happens to me OFTEN, but it does happen to lots of people, and has happened to me from time to time.

There is so much written out there about "Things you never say to a stay at home mom," or "things you never say to someone with multiple kids," but I'm here to speak for the "Things you never say to the single women who want to be moms someday." There aren't many of those posts out there.

The general theme is that moms are really busy, so don't comment on how much "free time they must have by staying at home," or how "oh I see you're wearing yoga pants again."

But the truth is, I won't mistakenly believe you have a lot of free time if you won't believe the same about me. AND the looking like hell because you have no time to think about getting dressed up? I get that too.  I stopped being a fashionista career woman before I even started because frankly, 'aint nobody got time for that.  And each time I TRY to put together the look that's supposed to go with "confident career woman," I end up having to work extra hours to pay for the clothes I bought that I end up not wearing because I'd rather be wearing the same pair of extra-comfy "I can slip these on after my ridiculously too short trip to the gym and no one will see how sweaty I am" dress pants.

I work a LOT. I'm paying my way through grad school for the sole purpose of having a job that helps others while still allowing me time to have a family later on in life , and I'm working an extra job too so can avoid having the maximum allowable debt so that SOMEDAY I too can take off some time from work to raise the family I pray I have.

What I'm trying to say is WE'RE ALL BUSY, so stop trying to make it look like one person's busy deserves more catering too than another person's busy. I won't even let myself get started on how offensive I find the posts about how tough it is to be a stay at home mom must be to the women who are working moms, or better yet, single working moms. It IS tough, but keep in mind when you're writing that stuff that there are a lot of women who'd love to be staying at home and for whatever reason, can't, but they still have to fulfill all of the same mommy obligations as anyone else - but that's a whole 'nother post for another day by another author (one who has experienced that first hand I would hope).

So yes, I LOVE your kids. I love helping you with your kids. I absolutely get great joy out of using my maternal instincts to take care of your babies - and I'm so thankful for that opportunity. But keep in mind, that your busy is no better than anyone else's busy - and be careful what you say to everyone else too! We're all in different situations for different reasons, some within our control, some outside of it, but we don't always know what's going on with someone else, so please, don't use your kid as a trump card for all your needs - or at least not all the time ;)

1 comment:

ThistleAshD said...

You go girl. First of all, I will openly admit that when I was teaching before Jude, I was just as tired all the time as I am now. With the exception of when he was an infant and was up every 4 hours. There really is NOTHING more exhausting than working with an infant. Simply because you never sleep through the night. But my life has always been exhausting. Partly because I chose to teach low income children... but still.

That being said- one day I will write the post on the stupidity of the complaining stay at home mom. Because here's the thing: I'm a single working mom. But I am basically a sahm mom during the summer. I am way more exhausted during the school year than summer. I will openly admit I have very little use for complaining about that. Probably a little too ungraciously. Yes its hard- but its not as hard as working with kids. And its emotionally difficult to leave your kids behind. I don't know- that has always frustrated me. Staying at home is a priveledge- I'd give anything to do that. But anyway, I haven't wanted to offend people yet :)

And side note- maybe we are all TOO busy and the American lifestyle is just not healthy? I think rest is important for everyone- and biblical.