The kid and her child-free auntieIt was the worst case of working mom guilt I've ever had. The kid was absolutely bombing at swimming lessons, and I couldn't be there to figure out what the heck was going on because, ahem, I had to work. I was left with just one option: put my trust in the swimming instructor who has no kids of her own.
In some circles, admitting that I let a member of the child-free by choice crowd weigh in on how to parent my kid is akin to blasphemy. Don't you know those people hate kids? How could they possibly know a thing about how to parent one?
Guess what. She was right about everything!
My kid wasn't going to learn to swim that summer because she just did not want to. And nothing I or any adult did was going to change that. The woman who isn't a parent made the call, and I, the parent, took her advice. Her judgment was sound. It may have hurt my pride a bit, but I learned something about my kid that day that I didn't know before.
If you think it's tough to study someone else's cribnotes on how you're raising your own kid, try taking them from someone who doesn't even have kids. In many ways it's a "until you've been there ... " situation. No one really knows what it's like to be pregnant, for example, until they've been pregnant (just as no one knows what it's like to have cancer or to lose a spouse or, really, this list could continue forever). And most moms you talk to have been burned by a child-free friend who unceremoniously discontinued the friendship after baby made three.
The divide between the two parties is there for a reason.
But it's one thing to draw a line between the two. Do we really need it to be a canyon?
We're all on the same global team here people, that big village. So one child-free person acted like an asshole, is it really fair to paint them all with the same broad brush? Think how you'd feel if a person without kids put you in the same category as that inconsiderate boob who lets her kid make a mess of a restaurant and then leaves it all for the waitress to clean up?! Exactly.
Sometimes my child-free friends don't know what they're talking about, and I reserve the right to smile and nod and then ignore their opinions completely the way I do with clueless old ladies in the grocery store who try to tell me my sweaty kid fresh from dance class really needs to have a hat and mittens on. Heck, sometimes my friends with kids talk out of their rear ends too, and I let it go in one ear and out the other. On the other hand, just as often, I step back and realize that there are people out there who are weighing in because they care about my kid. They may be wrong, but they may also be RIGHT!
That swimming instructor knew what she was talking about because she is my daughter's godmother, a woman who has chosen not to give birth to her own children but was giving up her free time to try teach a little girl she loves how to move in the water. Ironically not one but both of my daughter's godparents are kid-free. One by choice, one because he's not at that stage of his life yet. And my husband and I chose them to be involved in our kid's life because, honestly, we're raising a person here. We could use all the help we can get!
What's the best advice you've ever gotten from a member of the child-free crowd?
Image by Jeanne Sager