Wednesday, July 24, 2013

In the Club

You know, when I was in the married-yet-childless club, I was often told that I didn't "get" it. Having a kid changed everything. You couldn't do certain things now that you are a parent. You don't understand what it's like.

I'm on the other side now and I call bullshit. Sorry for the language, but seriously. Obviously, there are changes. Expect to be late. All the time. For a while, at least. It's hard to figure out just how much time you need to pack everything that your baby has to have. What really stinks is once you get into the groove of things, your babies stage changes and you need a whole new set of things, so you have to re-calibrate. Please don't get mad at your friend because she's late. Have grace that she is even leaving her house to meet you. Don't forget that babies need to nurse/eat every few hours. So, while you can get up an hour before you have to meet your friend, your friend got up four hours earlier. She nursed her kid, took a shower, got ready, got the kid ready, packed the stuff she needs and then nursed again so that she could meet you on time and have a nice block of time to hang out with you. It is no small feat to get out of the house. Be kind. Have patience.

Another big one - a huge one in my humble opinion - is the hormones. NO ONE CAN PREPARE YOU. I'm dead serious. You can have a friend that talks your ear off about the emotional turbulence they are experiencing but it won't matter. If you are one of the lucky ones that doesn't have symptoms, yay! Awesome for you. But you'll never understand it until you've waded in the waters.

Anyways, Bryan and I watched as many people in our lives had kids. And those people showed up less. They answered their phones less. They weren't "go to" people to help if a car gets stranded or your house gets flooded. Somehow, though, you become their people. They need help with fixing their deck? They need a babysitter for a few hours? They need anything? We were there. We answered the phone when they called. We were weirdly happy that the only time we were called was when we were needed, because at least it was something. It was whack but we said to ourselves, "They have a kid now! They don't need to help us or hang out with us."

That, my friends, is crap. This is coming from someone in the club. The only difference is that you have to be deliberate with your time. You have to choose how you spend it. And those people just didn't want to spend it on you. Period.  I'm going to give you a real life example.

As a Childless Person, I would babysit my nieces and nephews. Because duh, that's what you do. I've watched them for a multitude of reasons, emergencies, appointments, date nights, anniversary weekends. My sisters had kids, I did not, therefore I was a babysitter. Not a big deal. It's easy to give up a night when you really don't have anything to sacrifice to do it, or a night on the town is all you miss. Big deal.

Since entering the club, I have still watched my nephews. For example, my brother-in-law's sister had her baby yesterday and my sister asked if I could watch the boys so they could go meet their new niece. In my mind, I thought, crap. I'm going to work an almost nine hour day away from my kid and then I'll be away from him for another few hours. That sucked. But I said yes. Sure, I tried to get my husband to bring Shepherd over so that I could have the best of both worlds, but he was doing chores and Shep was sleeping. It wasn't going to work out.

I watched the boys for a little over 2 hours, just like I would have if I was childless. I sacrificed precious time with my own boy so that I could bless my sister and brother. That is what you do for people you love. If it is important you make the time. I ran around the house with my nephew as he pretended to be a ninja. I held my new nephew Parker, kissed his sweet face and breathed in his baby scent, just like I did with all my other nieces and nephews before I had a boy of my own.

However, there was a notable difference. When, in the past, my sister would get home and I would stay to talk about life and other things. Last night, I was out of there like my butt was on fire, yelled at a car that was going 15 in a 40mph zone and rushed into the house to hold my boy. To kiss his sweet face and remind him that the woman who had left him much earlier that day was still his Mama and she still loved him, just in case he forgot.

I don't want to miss out on those memories with any new nieces and nephews that may come my way, just because I use my kid as an excuse. Sometimes after a get together with my sister I go home and realize that I never even got to hold Parker because I was so busy with Shepherd. It makes me sad because I was there for the others. I soaked up those moments with my sisters babies. I have amazing memories of those kids, ones that are only made by the aunt that doesn't have kids yet. My sisters will never know what it feels like to watch my son and have one on one time with them because they both had kids before me. If they ever watch Shepherd it'll be while watching their own babes.

Things do change with you have a kid. But if a friend ever blamed the fact that they are being a sucky friend to you because they have a family they are really not that good of a friend at all. (Alternatively, if a childless friend ever blamed their being a sucky friend on the fact that you have a family, they are no better.)

Friends are there for you. Friends without kids bring you cookies at 9:30pm. Friends with kids make the effort to accept your invitation for dinner even though it's easier to stay home. That's how a real relationship works. Give and take. Sacrifice and support.

Having a child does not give you an excuse to be a crappy friend. Period.


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