STFU Parents: Wait ‘Til You Have Kids, Then You’ll Know Tired!
Daylight Saving Time is this weekend, which always falls in the Top 5 days every year that parents complain about something entirely predictable. It ranks right up with complaints about fireworks on the Fourth of July or New Year’s Eve, except of course, in the case of DST, their complaint is about how changing the clock impacts their baby’s sleep schedule. I’ve written about DST several times before, and each time I try to stress a few things:
1. I think DST is outdated and should probably go the way of the dodo.
2. I understand why parents get frustrated, because they’re already sleep-deprived, and as a sleep lover myself, I sympathize.
And 3. Despite sympathizing with the lack of sleep, complaining about DST on social media is beyond futile — it’s just plain boring. Unless you can find some clever way to add a twist to the standard DST woe is me whine, just save it for your spouse or another parent friend via text.
Ugh. Kids are awful. And you know what doesn’t help idiots like me who are foolishly thinking about having kids, but don’t have them yet? All of the warnings, urgings, horror stories, and endless loops of clichéd statements like, “Kids are hands down the absolute best AND worst things to ever happen to you!” or, “I love my kids, but I also can’t stand them most of the time, you know?” People like me are standing on the sidelines wondering if we want in on this game and thinking, “Good god, having kids sounds and looks horrendous.” Sometimes we accidentally say those things out loud, and our parent friends are like, “Oh yeah, kids SUCK,” and that perpetual confusion loop just starts all over again.
“Why does anyone have kids if they ruin something as precious, necessary, and delightful as sleep?”, we non-parents contemplate as we shuffle through life doing plenty of other exhausting things — but apparently nothing as exhausting as keeping a newborn alive. We’ve all heard these parenting tropes before, and while they may be accurate, no one likes being told that they aren’t *really* tired, or that they don’t know what true exhaustion feels like. No one has sympathy for parents who constantly go out of their way to “offer a word of advice,” even if they think they’re being helpful or lightly conversational.
Mommyjacking comments like these can come off not only as annoying, but also presumptuous. Who knows if J. wants to have kids, or is trying to have kids, or has wanted kids for years? Maybe she actually can’t stand kids but tries not to rub that fact in her parent friends’ faces. Meanwhile, they can’t stop yapping about how tired they are, making the (sometimes very wrong) assumption that every female friend they know has an eventual desire to procreate.
Sometimes it’s not even a matter of whether or not someone plans to have a baby, but a matter of being offensive. Yes, parenting is exhausting, but what about people who are exhausted for more than just a few years of their life? What about our friends, neighbors, classmates, and coworkers who have chronic problems that make going through life more painful and tiring than it should be? Those people are in the world, too, and they’re on Facebook, and they don’t appreciate your stupid memes.
Being tired isn’t and shouldn’t be a contest. Of course parents are allowed to admit truths about themselves once they have kids, and one of those truths is usually, “I never knew what being tired was until I had a child.” But the trick is finding ways to discuss this personal factoid without stepping on someone else’s toes, or shutting down another person’s version of being tired just because they can’t possibly understand. Everything is subjective. Some people need more sleep than others. Some people can’t stand the fact that their kids exhaust them, so they complain about it incessantly on social media. And some other people not only complain profusely about being tired, but also talk shit about people who don’t have kids on top of that just to exert fictional dominance in the Exhaustion department, hijacking everyone they know at every opportunity that presents itself. Those people are what this column is about. Let’s check out some examples.
That ‘lol’ speaks volumes. Maybe in another context, I could try to understand a comment like Ashley’s, but after reading that her friend is so exhausted she wants to cry, that’s what she settled on? Talk about a dick move. What would she say if Megan updated a few hours later that she was weeping in her car on her lunch break? “At least you don’t have to feed a picky toddler lol”? Go suck on your baby’s pacifier, Ashley!
2. Foreboding Mommyjacking Is Foreboding
You hear that, Amy? Savor that nap! You’re never going to nap again after having kids, so soak up those zzz’s while you can. Also, enjoy running commentary from your parent friends until that day hypothetically comes, because what better way to spend your childfree days than by napping with a train of paranoid thoughts rolling through your head? I know the thought I want to have just before resting my eyes is, “Wait ’til I have kids. I’ll never get to do this again.” Thanks for the reminder, Blue Mom!
3. Mommyjacking: Forbes Comments On Facebook Edition
The person who submitted this said, “I saw this Forbes article the other day about morning habits of successful people. Cue the mommyjacking in the comments section! Woe is a mom who no longer controls her day or schedule and can’t possibly be a morning person. Besides, you don’t get any more successful in life than spawning and raising children, right? Funny, the Forbes article didn’t mention that…”
It’s often at this point when reading submissions that I start thinking, “Is my audience nailing it and mirroring my every thought, or are we all a bunch of childless/childfree assholes??” But then… I kept reading her email, which wasn’t done yet:
“I say all this as a mom of three; I get so tired of moms using every opportunity and article to complain and be sanctimonious!”
Ahhh, the satisfying feeling of sweet, sweet validation. I couldn’t agree with you more, submitter!
4. Okay Ladies, Let’s Take It Down A Notch
When women condescend to men for not doing or experiencing something specific to the female anatomy (breastfeeding, childbirth, etc.), it doesn’t exactly make them/us look good. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s crazy that men will never understand what women’s bodies are really capable of doing, because they can’t experience those triumphs and hardships themselves, but all that usually means for me is that I get snippy with my husband when I’m on my period and will occasionally shout, “You don’t fucking know what it’s like to bleed every month, OKAYYYYY!!?!!” I certainly wouldn’t pop up on a friend’s post and be all, “Oh really, you’re tired? Try feeding a baby every few hours with milk your tits, Jason! TRY PUMPING!”
That being said, Jason should probably stop whining about being tired. We’re all tired, and it’s never fair.
5. “Fuck off because you’re not tired.”
And there you have it. Tracy, the official spokesperson for Tiredness and Relevance, has deemed people without kids to have no voice on the subject of “being sleepy.” She didn’t want to have kids, wound up with one anyway, and she’s going to tell every smart-ass stranger on the internet all about it until she finally gets some sleep, goddammit! She’s a miserable wreck, can’t anyone see that?! She’s accusing an entire group of people of being utterly clueless on the topic of “tiredness,” and she wants them all to fuck right off into their relaxed childless sunsets, which are often experienced during a spontaneous happy hour at a bar that doesn’t allow kids. Cheers to you, Tracy. I raise my still-very-much-childless glass to you and your exhaustion, which I can’t begin to comprehend. After reading through your comments, though, I sure am looking forward to it.