I Don't Agree With You Carolyn Hax on "Why don't friends with kids have time?"
There is an article floating around out there from Carolyn Hax's column "Tell Me About It" titled, "Why don't friends with kids have time?" Even though this column appeared in the May 2007 Washington Post, it has somehow been resurrected and is becoming an infectious email sensation among moms all over. I searched for the article online and discovered it was is a common conversational piece on other people's blogs as well. I read other comments from those blogs and Facebook posts and as far as I can see, I am the only one who adamantly disagrees with Carolyn Hax's reply. Here is the article:
Dear Carolyn: Best friend has child. Her: exhausted, busy, no time for self, no time for me, etc. Me (no kids): What'd you do today? Her: Park, play group... OK. 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. 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); I manage to get it all done. I'm feeling like the kid is an excuse to relax and
enjoy, 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 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.
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, because it's validation you seem to want, the real answer is what you get. When you have young kids, your typical day is: constant attention, from getting them out of bed, fed, cleaned, 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 checkout-line screaming.
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. 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 or marvel how much more productively she uses her time. Either make a sincere effort to understand, or keep your snit to yourself.
First of all, Tacoma has a very legitimate question. She says her other friends with no kids are asking the same question. You can be a child psychologist, childcare worker, teacher, or work with kids in any other type of profession, but if you don't have kids, one really has no idea the constant demands of having children.
Second of all, although I appreciate her legitimizing all those parents out there, especially our stay-at-home-moms, but should our kids really be an excuse for not keeping in contact with our friends? Tacoma says it was her "Best Friend!" What kind of best friend just dumps her friend because she is busy with her kids?
Now, I have two boys, and I have stayed at home with them and I have worked full time and I can absolutely attest to the fact that just getting time to yourself is like a diamond - so difficult to find and yet so valuable when in possession. But, did her friend say she went to the park, library, museum, walk with her kids? Does she go to the zoo or Sea World on Saturdays? Does she walk to the store on Sundays? Now why did she not invite her friend? Of course her friend eats, so why doesn't she invite her best-friend-with-no-kids over for dinner? What is wrong with that? She could talk to her why she folds clothes, she could text her while she is in the museum, she could invite her along to those weekend events. Sure, "hanging out" doesn't look the same as it did pre-kids, but we can invite our friends into our lives oppose to pushing them away saying that there lives are just not the same as the other people lives anymore. Tacoma is reaching out! She does want to know, otherwise she wouldn't have written the letter.
Before I was married, my friends who got married before me often would exclude me from their lives. I was even in a wedding and called her a month later and she said, "Sharon, I'm married now, I don't have time for you anymore." Let's not be friends with people just out of convenience, because you are both single, both married, both have kids, both divorced. Let's keep our friends for life. It takes effort and creatively, but if they are up for it then they will join in too. How fun is it when everyone looks the same and does the same thing? Not as fun. Let's be faithful to our friends and just think what a great example you will be for your kids to also be faithful to their friends no matter what.
What are your thoughts on the issue? How do you keep up with your friendships?
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In attempt to get people talking about what we all have in common, life, I wanted to create a place where we can talk about experiences which, most likely, others can relate to. The writing is simple, but the edge is real. You are welcome to join in on the talk, come in as a follower, and let's learn about life together.