I get quite frustrated and upset when people say or write this statement followed by whatever it is that they think people who don’t have kids don’t know.
Okay – it’s true that because I don’t have children I can’t possibly know exactly what it is like to parent a child 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I know that. But I’m not totally ignorant about children either.
These kinds of all or nothing statements completely disregard the knowledge I do have about children and the feelings I have for the children, and other people, in my life.
There are many things people who don’t have children supposedly don’t know. I want to mention a few of them:
Kids are gross and dirty. Trust me – I know. While changing my three week old niece’s diaper she did an almighty, runny, smelly poo and then stuck her foot in it. It’s not the only time I’ve changed pooey or wet diapers, or cleaned up snot, or wiped up vomit (sometimes all three substances end up on me…) And, oh my goodness, the smell of poo when children are teething! Nothing else quite like it…
Kids take their time. When you’ve sat with a child for an hour trying to get them to take a few more mouthfuls of their dinner, it’s not that far of a leap to realise this is a regular occurrence.
Kids need you. On many occasions when I’ve looked after children there have been times when whatever I was doing was put aside to hold a crying child, a child having a tantrum, a child who wants a cuddle, a child who is tired, or a child that really needs me to play with them right now.
Kids are too honest – meaning they may say things that hurt feelings. I’ve been told that I didn’t need that extra biscuit by one of my nieces. I ate it anyway - it was chocolate...
Kids break stuff and hurt themselves. Yep – we’ve lost ornaments and dishes to the hands of children, and the kids we love have taken tumbles and falls while we were looking after them. That’s why we have children’s paracetamol, Disney character band aids, sunscreen and insect repellent for children, cough medicine for children, and a dust pan and broom at the ready, in our own home.
As a parent you would put your life before theirs – you would plead that your life be taken in place of theirs. You would put yourself in danger to make them safe. I would do anything to make our nieces and nephews safe, even risking my own life – and I would do that for our friends’ children too. I don’t have to be a parent to have that level of protective instinct and love.
Speaking of love – one of my least favourite sayings is “You don’t know what real love is until you’ve had children.” Seriously? So my love for Kirby, my love for my family and friends is not real? I actually find this offensive. I love my nieces and nephews with a love that is so tremendous that I sometimes feel like I must be shining with a boundless happiness. That is real love as far as I’m concerned. And, let’s face it; there are parents who don’t love their children. Parenthood isn’t a guaranteed path to knowing what real love is.
Nobody can know what it is like to live anybody else’s life. I get it that I don’t know what being a twenty four hour, seven day a week parent is like – but I do have knowledge and feelings and fears about the children in my life. These are real and I will not let them be disregarded. My experiences and feelings are mine. I feel deeply, I care deeply, I love deeply, and I know stuff.