Christine Park

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Apology to Friends Without Kids

I just finished watching this hilarious vlog post by What's Up Moms' Elle Walker, which has totally gone viral now. In it, she explains through her inner monologue, why it's so hard staying in touch and maintaining her friendships with people who don't have kids. Her toddler spills grated cheese in the time it takes Elle to text, sits on her baby brother when she isn't looking, and Elle nods off mid-conversation with her visiting girlfriend. Good Morning America featured the video and the ensuing controversy this morning. I guess some folks were offended, calling it a slap in the face. GMA also asked in a poll, "Can parents stay close friends with people who don't have kids?" 73% said yes, 27% said no. Their parenting expert, Dr. Robyn Silverman, said people took offense because the video made them feel their lives weren't as important or significant just because they didn't have children.

First off, LIGHTEN UP PEOPLE. It's a light-hearted, funny take on the challenges parents face. And part of the way parents cope with the insanity of seemingly simple tasks made impossible by a screaming toddler (like trying to force said toddler to wear clothes and shoes when leaving the house), is with humor. We like to laugh at ourselves and commiserate. But do we feel that our friends without kids can relate? Not at all. That's why this video helps. It gives them an insight into the fact that when I say, "I'm so sorry, it's been so crazy lately." It literally means, "As soon as I got the call from my kid's school that my daughter was sick, she has not stopped puking, and I have not had a moment to put the barf bucket down to text you back." Does it mean I don't value your time? No. Does it mean I don't value our friendship? No. Does it mean I want you to feel sorry for me? No. It just means, "I would love to catch up with you, and I am craving adult conversation about something other than the color and consistency of my daughter's stool, but can I take a rain check?"

Oh those crazy days that are now just a foggy memory, when I had a newborn and a toddler that wanted to act like a newborn. When sleep was just a cruel tease. And I was consumed with nursing the baby and potty training all at the same time.

I've always been the only one of my best friends that had kids. I remember feeling really bad (and sad) when they would invite me to happy hours, weekends in Vegas, or vacations to Mexico and I couldn't just pick up and leave. I REALLY wanted to, but I had new obligations and priorities. I didn't expect them to understand, since they didn't have children. And after awhile, they stopped asking. At first I was hurt, but then I was relieved that I didn't have to keep turning them down. Now I just live vicariously through their Facebook posts. We are still best friends. It's about making an effort, even if that effort isn't always successful. They have been great "aunties" to my kids. They've attended baby showers and the kids' birthdays, sent them gifts. Even inspired their requests for a puppy (thanks a lot Anj). I know I need to be a better friend when it comes to calling and catching up. After the kids are in bed, we've been known to squeeze in a conversation or two, when I'm really able to listen without constantly being interrupted. And I do try to get away and make an effort to have girls weekends every now and then. It just requires more advance planning and notice. 

As you can see... I made it to Mexico with the girls after all:

I love that part in Elle's vlog where she says: "In a few years, I'll make it all up to you with some bad advice from someone who will never judge..." Trust me: I am just counting down the days til my girls have kids of their own, and I can just knowingly smile and say, "Welcome to my world. What took you so long?" And they'll be glad they have a friend who's gone through the mommy madness, and will understand when they can't come out for a drink. (I'll bring the wine over to her house instead)

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