I guess I am getting to that age where it is becoming apparent that amongst my friends there will be some who choose not to have children. That fact seems to draw a wedge of sorts between the parents and the not parents. It doesn’t have to, and some childless couples mesh in better with their parent friends than others. Either way, things like “ they just don’t understand” and “they just don’t get it” get said by the parents about the non-parents. And this “IT” is exactly what is causing the strange separation between us. This it factor it the maternal (and paternal) love that parents develop when they become parents. Now it happens at different times for each person. There are those that say that they fell in love with their child the second they found out that they were pregnant, others say it was when the nurse handed their newborn to them the first time, and for others, like myself, it happens gradually. With my first child it was a gradual thing that developed slowly starting at the first ultrasound, it grew immensely at the birth and then one day “it” hit me. “It”, this thing only parents get to experience, is the most powerful emotion that anyone can ever feel. It is this sense of love for another person that is so strong it will bring you to your knees if you think about it too much, it will make you sick to your stomach if you think for a nanosecond of the possibility of losing it. It will make you do and say and think crazy things in its defense. It is so powerful and so amazing that it changes every fiber of our being. And therefore the wedge. Parents wonder how their non-parent friends could possibly live without this wonderful love. Non-parents wonder why their parent friends are so “crazy” sometimes when it comes to their children and why we are always talking about our kids. Sometimes we parent even get a little pushy, asking when and if the non-parents will have kids.
Of course I remember what it was like before I had kids. I was happy, really happy. I had a lot of fun, a lot of me time, and a LOT of sleep. I get how that could be hard to consider “giving” up. Becoming a parent definitely requires sacrifice too, and sometimes you have to give up things that you loved before having kids for a while or forever, but all that I can say is that the love and joy that come with it are SO worth it.
I know this sounds a little fluffy. To someone who isn’t a parent it might sound like I am one of those people who always wanted kids and that was just what I was meant to do, and that is why I love being a parent so much. Which is kinda true, but I have friends who growing up swore that they would never have kids, that they didn’t “like” kids. As soon as they became parents they too were overwhelmed with this special love. It happens to all parents. Well almost all, I know there are those crazy people on talk shows that come out and say that they never loved their children, but I would guess that there is something wrong with them greater than just not loving their children. It isn’t something that you choose to do or not. It just happens. I remember people telling me this stuff before I had kids. My father-in-law was one of the major pushers. He would always tell my husband that he would never be able to understand how much he loved him until he had kids of his own. At the time my husband thought he was just being pushy. At the hospital the day our daughter was born my husband called my father-in-law and through tears of joy admitted that he final understood what he had been talking about. It truly is amazing.
A bit of advice to those non-parent people out there. When parent friends ask when or if you will have children or tell you that you just can’t understand what it is like to be a parent they are not trying to pressure you or insult your intelligence. Parents just want their friends to get to experience the joy of being parents that they have. We parents know that it is possible to be happy without kids and that being a parent isn’t something that everyone will choose, and we can accept that. In the end there will always be parents and non-parents and we can all still be friends!