A lot of internet trends get under my skin once I’ve scrolled past the thousandth share on social media, but the one that irritates me the most is probably “parent-splaining,” or, parents explaining parenthood to their non-parent friends. I long for the day when I can go online and not haphazardly come face-to-screen with yet another post outlining why parenting is the best gig ever, why parenting sucks donkey balls, why parents are so tired, why parents hate their non-parent friends, why parents miss their non-parent friends, why parents wish their friends would understand how important and all-consuming parenting is…you get the picture. Every day, a new piece of “brilliance” makes its internet debut, and I, for one, am bored of watching this never-ending parade of explanatory nonsense march past my constantly rolling eyeballs.
I know I don’t have to read these trend pieces. I could choose to do anything with my time. I could read a book, paint a watercolor inspired by my systemic rage, or start a hardcore band and write songs like “10 Reasons Parents Think They’re Fucking Martyrs.” But instead, I dutifully open my laptop each morning with the vague hope that I won’t come across yet another list or rant that’s been picked up by a mainstream outlet and has 300 thousand shares and is titled something like,“Once We Become Parents We Don’t Want to Hang Out With You Anymore (But Not for the Reasons You Think)”, or was posted on a personal blog and has been circulating online for years, like Jason Good’s 2011 post “To all my friends without children” (last posted by a parent in my Facebook stream three weeks ago). I don’t always click on these bait-laden traps, but just knowing they’re gaining traction can send me into an existential downward spiral.
Mostly, I wonder why so many parents feel inclined to dictate to their friends what any rational person already knows: Kids change your life. Kids change your schedule. Kids make it so that you can no longer “party into the night” because there’s shit that needs to get done. I’m actually surprised more mothers don’t wear those cheeky t-shirts that say stuff like “Ain’t nobody got time for dat! I’M A MOM!” or feature a drawing of a frazzled looking mother with “Because kids.” written in bold lettering underneath. We’ve managed to elevate motherhood (and parenthood in general) so it’s not only normal foradvertisers to extol the virtues of selfless child-rearers, but it’s also normal for parents to become Master Explainers the second they “cross over” into parenthood. It’s an oddly antagonistic yet remarkably passive-aggressive way of telling all the clueless, childless folks that they don’t know shit. If parents aren’t penning their own special essays to “explain” all of the changes that have occurred post-baby, they’re linking to those viral “Let Me Break It Down For You Idiots” posts on social media — a subtle but friendly jab masquerading as “tips” for friends without kids, not to mention an “AMIRITE, parents?!”, high-five moment for those who do.