The Haves and the Have-nots usually refer to socioeconomic classes, but could just as easily apply to women with and without kids. In the interest of shrinking the chasm that sometimes forms between the two, we offer an open letter on behalf of childless gals to their mother-bear pals.
Acknowledge the elephant in the room when you breast-feed in front of us.
Just a simple, good-natured, "Winnebagos, right?" will do, because it's killing us to pretend we're not enthralled and distracted.
Keep track of mileage.
The distance between your place and our place is indeed a schlep, especially with a crabby toddler in tow, and we agree that it's easier for us to come to you. Just please do not take this for granted: Don't make plans with us and then say, "Great, so you can come out here on Saturday the 7th, Sunday the 15th, or any night the following week." Offer to make the trip occasionally--maybe once every four visits. We'll be so bowled over by the gesture, we probably won't even take you up on it.
Go ahead and e-mail us a picture of your kid.
We're happy to see Zoe's first haircut (by her own hands, with your pinking shears) or signs of Jacob's first teeth or evidence of Lily's self-christening in buttercream frosting from her birthday cake. But please do not abuse the privilege: We don't need to see daily digital pictures; we are not compiling a time-lapse flip-book of le petit's life thus far. If we e-mail back saying, "Hmm, couldn't open the attachment," please refrain from bombarding our in-box with eight ways to view the blessed picture. Your Kodakgallery.com password will not help us when we have to meet with the boss in 10 minutes. (Read what Crabmommy has to say about those overly-obsessed Multiemedia Moms.)
Don't be shy about disciplining your kid in front of us.
After all, it's what we long to do ourselves while you insist on pretending we're having a normal conversation over his screeching/slapping/kicking/biting fit. Calling him on his bad behavior won't make us think you have a bad kid or that you're a bad parent. (In fact, we'll think quite the opposite!) We will forever appreciate the time you had the courage to step in there and stop your pride and joy from turning our Marc Jacobs shoulder bag into a finger-painted Jackson Pollock.
Children's birthday parties are best for children and those who take care of them.
Please understand--and say so--when we RSVP "no thanks" to your 4-year-old's "cowperson and Native American" shindig. And forgive us for not sending a gift. After all, your house already has exceeded its quota of $25 colorful plastic wonders.(Related: The truth about birthday party etiquette.)
Try to keep in mind...
...that Anthony from the Wiggles is no sane woman's idea of sexy.
Scavenge your memory for what qualifies as adult fun.
If we're driving all the way out to see you in the 'burbs, figure out something a little more entertaining than shadowing you on your daily errands and car pools. The steam-table salad bar at the grocery store should never, ever be passed off as "a great little place to grab lunch." Not to be too picky, but if you're having us over for dinner, please do not serve blister packs of applesauce and stegosaurus-shaped chicken nuggets.
Call us back if you have to.
We won't take offense. We know you have to keep an eye on the kids, but try to keep at least a quarter of your brain on the conversation. (We're ashamed to admit this, but we thought you were talking to us the first dozen or so times you said, "You're a good girl. Yes you are.")
Stop with the self-pitying asides about our sleep cycles, spending habits, and sex lives.
"Must be nice to stay in bed past 6:30 a.m." "Must be nice to buy clothes for yourself." "Must be nice to go on vacation in Costa Rica and have a one-week stand with a hot 24-year-old Australian surf instructor." Yes, it is nice, and we will not feel guilty about it. And we could throw plenty of must-be-nices right back at you. (Sex and the American Dad: You might think it's a nagging little worry--but to him, it's a full-blown emergency.)
Leave the kids with a sitter from time to time.
heck, we'd even settle for once a decade--to let us know that our friendship, love, and support are worth at least $8.50 an hour. We'll even give ourselves a lift home.
And years hence, when we're toting our own sling full of baby, do not utter (or even think), "See? We told you so."
More from Cookie:
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online resources for everything you need for your kid's next birthday bash.
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