I read an article this week written for Stylist. and it boiled my blood a little. I’m hormonal (cycle day 26) and so this may have been a slight overreaction on my part…. But let me explain.
The article which first caught my attention via a quote on instagram, was displayed with the words….
Now we all know media pulls quotes for attention, writers – including myself – do too! The reason this got me going wasn’t because it’s written by someone who doesn’t have children and therefore they cannot comprehend the incessant need as a parent, to snap cute pictures of your kids during all stages, at all times… Instead, it was the ‘I’m sick of being cancelled at the last minute’ comment that got my knickers in a knot. This, because sure, it’s shit being cancelled on, but if the excuse is the kids, then someone whom doesn’t have children (especially small ones) can’t relate to the magnitude of their needs, and the ever present fear as a mother, that you might indeed need to cancel plans at the very last minute because your child has yet another temperature that’s just a modicum too high for your liking. A snotty nose that needs constant wiping, or God-forbid they randomly vomited up the dinner you cooked them just hours ago, before you dressed to go out.
Secondary to the above, I saw a tweet referencing parents which read….
I mean, WHAT THE ACTUAL?? Last I checked, we were about to enter 2023 but here I found myself trawling the dark ages of Twitter.
Not only does the tweet make little sense, given that remote working has proven parents in particular to have increased levels of productivity, it was written by a man whom also doesn’t have children.
The generalisation that all parents, though let’s be honest – we’re talking predominantly mothers here – use any excuse to a) bail on their friends at the last minute and 2) skive off work all day, is perhaps not surprising but alarming nonetheless. It suggests that we (mothers) are literally at the bottom of everybody’s reliability list. Which is ridiculous if you consider how committed the majority of us are when it comes to parenting our children.
What maybe bothered me the most, is the realisation that I used to be one of these presumptuous, and unashamedly judgemental, people. Eye rolling at every new upload of somebody’s kid eating their first broccoli. NGL I still eye-roll at this on occasion but in my defence, the eye-roll is inward and I’m far less frivolous with my judgement. To think I may have been somebody whom put parents in a specific and wrongly undervalued category, now makes me cringe!!
My best friend had birthed three children before I’d had any and I’m ashamed to admit that I used to be a person who assumed her absence from events was down to fabricated childhood illness. Now, as a mother of two and someone that has more health issues than Katie Hopkins has haters, I’ve had to make peace with becoming the unreliable and often-absent, friend.
However, I’d like to be clear, my excuses for bailing on my mates at the last minute, aren’t in fact excuses at all. They are instead justifiable reasons. As would be one of my child-free friends cancelling because their cat was on its’ last paws. If anything, rather than giving me an endless list of get-out-of-jail-free excuses, it was actually motherhood that opened my eyes to all possible eventualities. And it was both that and disability which provided me with the eye-opening, and painfully stark dose of reality, that life can and does change at the drop of the proverbial hat.
It would seem our unreliability as parents, through no fault of our own, has black-listed us to our own unique and increasingly lonely, club.
If your friends are sending you ‘unsolicited’ pics of their children, for fuck’s sake, have a conversation with them. I know myself, as a mother and a friend, I would hate for my pals to be in receipt of pictures from me which they felt strongly enough to complain about. Whether those pictures are of unfunny memes, plates of food I have no desire to recreate, or even cute (or not cute) kids doing boring shit. If my friend was constantly filling my WhatsApp feed with photos that left me feeling drained, or gave me the ick, I can assure you – I’d be ribbing her about it. Thankfully, I can say with confidence that the pictures I get from my mates are usually hilarious, cute or relevant. Even if they’re none of those things though, I can still appreciate the joy such a picture may have brought to the sender and go about my day without feeling personally affronted by it. Unless, for obvious reasons, it’s an unsolicited dick pic from a man… in which case… friend or no friend = B L O C K E D.
To my friends, the parents and the pet parents and the single, and the child-free, you’re good! Keep uploading those pics of your cute kids and your dinner to Instagram. I promise the ones I’m uninterested in I’ll just mind my business and scroll past. And whatever you do, don’t feel guilty for needing to rearrange your working day because one of your kids is sick. Being a working parent is stressful enough without adding in an extra dose of guilt. Your kids may not yet appreciate your sacrifice, but believe once they enter adulthood themselves they’ll be grateful for the days you changed sick bowls and soiled sheets instead of answering phone calls.