Friday, September 13, 2013

Children vs Childless: Get Your Box Out of My Face

I've been wanting to write this post for a while and finally got the push I needed from a friend's Facebook status. She posted something similar to this:

If you're looking for a good punch in the face,
please remind me about how I don't
understand anything because I don't have children.

The writer? She's a teacher. Before teaching, she was a nanny. The girl knows kids. 

Now as a mom, I know there are certain elements of childcare you never fully grasp until you have a little rugrat of your own....midnight puke sessions....those small, teeny feet taking their first steps....the consuming, ferociously strong pull you get when watching them wave bye-bye. I could go on and on.

But my Facebook friend knows this. She even made mention of it in her post...admitted she may not fully grasp everything there is to know about raising kids....but she's certainly no idiot, either. 

So why is she being condemned? I'll tell you what I think....I think the person who said it shoved my friend into a box lined with flimsy stereotypes and bad experiences. 

Yes, some people are genuinely clueless when it comes to kids....but **hey hey!!** some of these people are also parents. We've seen the incredible actions of the world's worst parents....having kids doesn't mean you're instantly blessed with the complete guide on how to care for them. Any parent who denies this is plain lying...unless that parent has cared for 11 children...should you meet this parent treat them like the golden reservoir of holiness they are and send them directly to my house.

Some of the best parenting advice I've ever received has come from my best girlfriend.....who,, has no children. It's not about her birthing count, it's about her brain. 

The same can be said about a bunch of other boxes people try to shove us into.....wanna know a few of my favs?

Box 1
Southern Girl vs Northern Girl: I love country music, but can't stand those songs about country girls shakin it. I can shake it. What about me shakin it. I was born in Park Ridge, Illinois...can I still shake it? I get the whole "being proud of where you come from"... but shakin it? And looking cute in short shorts and plaid shirts? Hell, I can do that. Gimmie one.

Box 2
Working vs At-Home: Stop, just stop. There is nothing good about this box. I've done both, multiple times now, and it's different for everyone. I don't suck because I work and I don't suck because I don't want to work. I won't suck when I stop working and if I work again I won't suck then either. Enough with the "empowered people keep careers" and "working people don't care about family." It makes me sick. We are all people.

Box 3
Sons vs Daughters: Ooooo I can feel the sting in your eyes as you read this one! Very hot topic. I get it. Boys are different from girls. Raising them, therefore, can present unique challenges. I like to think every child presents unique challenges as every child is a completely different person, but if you'd like to place the bulk of the reasoning on gender, be my guest. Just don't shove me in that box and expect me to sit there quietly and take it. I will destroy that box...because I'm telling you what....parents are parents. Raising a child is challenging. Accept it at that and be compassionate. Tossing out isolating statements like, "you'll never understand, you don't have boys...." is completely nonconstructive and jacks me directly into defense mode.

Box 4
City vs Country: I live in a suburb. I would someday like to live in a place with land, fresh air, and plenty of room to roam. I also love heading into the city...I squeal like an idiot every time I see huge, tall buildings. I guess I don't belong in either box....I don't know how to drive a tractor and I have no idea how to ride an elevated train. Hey, but you know what? I betcha I could learn...just like a city person could learn how to live in the suburbs...and a country bumpkin could learn how to hail a taxi.

Now would they want to? Well, guys, that is the real question.

You see, at the heart of the box factory, there lies a fierce pride in who you are and what you stand for. You don't respond well to young punks running in and turning years worth of work into cheap, easily-attained knowledge....nor should you. Long-lived expertise deserves respect (remember that golden parent of 11??).

No, I'm not saying we should lessen the cornerstones of someone's identity and livelihood, further weakening a crumbling platform of social collaboration....nope. Not that.

I am saying, instead, that the experts should treat the inexperienced with kindness.

Hey, childless person who criticizes parents for "losing themselves" in their kids, be nice. Invite your parent friends to a park near their house. Ask them about their kids. Be a real person.

Hey, parent who criticizes childless people for "not knowing jack" about kids, be nice. Those people can be glorious fountains of unique ideas and perspective, not to mention a welcome escape from kid talk. Ask them about their weekend plans. Be a real person.

I am guilty as charged. This blog is called Flaws, Forgiven, right? Where would we be without a little lesson for Jen embedded in here....

I get impatient real quick. I deal with stupid, stupid people all the time who box me in and make me so mad, I could scream. I gotta get over it. I've found stupid people everywhere...with kids, without kids, with money, without money, friends, family, from all over the country. Ignorance needs to be pitied, nothing more. Maybe they'll someday understand, maybe not. Guess you could try and help them, if you can trust yourself not to kill them. I'm working on that one.

In general, however, you'll find the majority of the population is an expert in one or more things. Identify your expertise, but don't hold it above the heads of others. You never know what they are truly capable of. That city boy could be your best detassler. That choir girl might be a blast at the club. Your mom friends might be awesome at organizing large events and your non-mom friends might be awesome at chalk creations. Stop with the boxes and start giving the benefit of the doubt.

Ending note: The girl in these pictures, while not the Facebook poster I mentioned above, has also never had a baby. Notice...she seems to be doing just fine working her magic on mine... :) Have a great weekend everybody. 



  1. I find we have become so lazy. Lazy and want to easily categorize people so we can instantly figure out their worth. Sad as a society we have done this. I have definitely met my far share of stereotypes but I have also met amazing people out of a forbidden box.

    I find the best people are those who rise above their boxes and are forced to be seen as unique.