Wednesday, 25 March 2015

The Mom Card

They say that there is no greater joy in life than bringing a child into this world. Some have even gone far enough to call it a gift, a miraculous life-altering event that every woman should experience at least once in her life, and one that cannot be understood or truly appreciated until you have a mini-me of your own.

Quite frankly, I can think of a million other ways of deriving joy and pleasure than nurturing a spawn of my own. The thought of sacrificing my spare time for play dates and swim meets doesn't sit well with someone who enjoys sleeping past 10am on a Saturday morning (at least for now anyway). The potty training, the screeching sound of twenty sugar hyped kids at Jimmy Jungle, sleepless nights from staying up with a snotty nosed, pink-eyed rugrat. That biological clock can tick as loudly as it wants to. I ain't budging. Call me shallow or hateful, but I quite like the smell of fabric softener on my cashmere sweater instead of the stench of lactose flavored spit up.

"Nothing is going to change. I promise you!" Famous last words used by any pregnant friend or friend with child in order to make themselves feel less guilty about the inevitable abandonment and demise of your friendship. Have you tried talking to someone with kids these days? It's either all about them, all about their child (which you really struggle to identify with) or like talking to someone with an attention deficit problem. Sure some kids are cute and have a certain charm of their own but any friend of friend with kids will tell you that the joy about being around these noisy, smelly critters is that you get to give them back at the end of the day. 

The sudden baby boom of 2015 got me thinking about relationships, particularly friendships that are unable to stand the test of time because of self-important, opinionated assholes that parenthood has the potential of turning some people into. It's easy to play the "you don't have kids so you couldn't understand" card, but at the end of the day, friendship is a two-way street. It survives on just as much mutual effort and compromise as any romantic relationship does. Yes, your life has become one big sacrifice after another, a choice you made, but does that necessarily make my life and its subsequent choices any less meaningful or important than yours? Are my accomplishments no longer important or recognized?

With great responsibility comes an even greater sense of power, not to mention, entitlement. Enter the Mom Card...

Working in an environment that's pro-family made me realize just how much a parent, especially a working mother, can get away with. While on the one hand, it might be considered a mild form of discrimination towards co-workers without kids, it's also an ingenious method of manipulation. Flexi-time, weekends at the company beach house, compassionate and paid-for maternity leave. What asshole is seriously going to say no to a sick kid? And what mother will honestly stand for it? While the mom card is highly effective in the work place and often used as collateral to get away with murder, just how acceptable is it when it comes to your social life?

Holly, Kendra and Bridget had been inseparable besties since their first year in pre-primary. They survived boys, puberty, heartbreaks, tampons, family travesties and all the other post-teen drama of the late to early 90's. Thick as thieves they were as they endured life one difficulty after the next confident that nothing and no one, not even a baby, could break these bonds of sisterhood.

Of the three, Holly was the least likely to have a baby but true to her spontaneous nature, she brought a little bundle of boy almost immediately after graduating from varsity. Being the true friends that they were, Bridget and Holly were supportive of this life choice and did everything they could to adjust to this stage in her life. They made regular visits and assisted with the baby shower, got elaborate gifts and made a pact that motherhood would never change the dynamic of their friendship.

"I'm not sure whether it was those frigid bitches from her family planning classes or those self-important housewives in Bishopscourt, but Holly had become a completely different person. It was like she had a lobotomy." According to Kendra, Holly had morphed into a super-paranoid, earth mom who refused to leave her child out of mind and out of sight. He was literally attached to her hip and sometimes, her tit for that matter. Whether kid appropriate or not, little Junior had become a regular addition to our circle of friends.

Every attempt at taking her away for some much needed "we" and "me" time got vetoed by some excuse or the other. "We tried to stage an intervention but that only aggravated the situation further. She got crazy defensive and thought we were attacking her. We have loads of other friends with kids who refuse to let motherhood affect their professional drive let alone define who they are as individuals. They also make the effort to support our life choices as well. Holly missed a number of important events in the past such as Kendra's 30th and Bridget's celebratory promotion weekend, each time throwing the mom card in our faces."

Are friends without kids fucked for life by the arrival of tiny pooping terrors? Just how much of an adjustment should friends make to cater for someone else's life choices when the actions and feelings aren't even reciprocated? Are babies and kids the death of friendship? 

"I don't think people with kids realise just how much we bend over in order to get some time with our friend. They lose themselves in this new role, completely negating who they are in the process. We worry what this is doing to her mental and physical health, not to mention her relationship with her partner. There's even a rumour going round that she's thinking of having more? Bye-bye Holly."

"You're going to make a great parent someday." Translation. Start having kids now otherwise this friendship as you know it is officially over. Hats off to anyone having a child these days. Seriously, I applaud you for having such an altruistic take on life. Kudos to you, but just because some of us haven't jumped on the bandwagon of tots and terrors doesn't mean that you need to ice us out with the "we don't understand" card. We understand perfectly well. Perhaps you're the one who doesn't understand what it takes to be the supporting friend. You are after all the one getting all the support.  Maybe one day we'll catch up but until then, we are quite happy with our noiseless, selfish and meaningless existence.

When it comes to life long friendships, what came first? The bestie or the kid?

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