PARENTS

Why Do People Have To Rain On My Baby Parade?

31/08/2012 09:41 | Updated 22 May 2015
Why do people have to rain on my baby parade?Alamy

My husband and I weren't entirely sure parenthood was for us. We envied those who were certain about children - either way. In the end, we decided to have one. Like dipping a toe in the parenting water, to see if we liked the temperature.

We obviously did, because we now have two sons, and we're crazy about them. But we know family life isn't for everyone.

So I've found myself bewildered at the attitude of some adults if I dare bring up my kids in conversation.

Cue much eye-rolling, sighing and knowing glances, like I'm trying to recruit them into some horrific cult.

These are followed by sly comments like:

"Don't you hate parents who post pictures of their kids on Facebook? How soppy."

"All they talk about is nappies and weaning. Get a life!"

"Why should they get better parking spaces? Bloody cheek."

Are these people threatened? Or do they protest too much?

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Why is having children becoming the one happy occasion in life which has to be suppressed at all costs?

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Last year, I had a part-time job where a pregnant colleague didn't dare mention her impending arrival, until a cynical bunch of workers went to lunch.

Then she'd proudly bring out her scan pictures, and discuss favourite baby names with me.

She couldn't celebrate her condition, without fear of being treated like some child-obsessed freak.

We were supportive while colleagues gushed about their wedding plans, described their diets and everything they'd eaten that day, or talked about their beloved dogs (who they posted pictures of on Facebook). So why were we shamed out of the occasional comment about our kids?

All I can think is that babies are an emotional issue. Some people can't have them. Some are afraid of how much they might change their lives. Others decide not to have them - then feel guilty or judged by society.

Speaking for myself, I can hold up my hands and say: "No judgement". And I would guess a lot of frazzled parents are the same.

We love our kids, but can imagine a life without them – with lots of freedom, extra sleep, spare cash. We simply chose to forego those pleasures for the experience of being parents.

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So why can't we discuss that experience, without eye-rolling or mocking?

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I don't spend my days shouting:

"I hate dog owners who let their mutts poop on my lawn."

"Damn bridezillas. There's more to life than a three-tiered cake."

"I don't care how many calories are in your sandwich. Eat it and shut up!"

Different things are important to different people.

Mum-of-two Shelley works in a call centre, where staff are banned from displaying family photos. She explained: "We have been told it is insensitive to display our kids, in case anyone is privately having fertility problems.

"It's unbelievable. What are they going to do if a colleague gets pregnant? Hide her behind a screen? How far do we go?"

Before we had our boys, my husband and I suffered two miscarriages. And faced the possibility we might never be parents.

I remember the fear, the sadness... and the poor pregnant girl in the office who felt she had to hide her happy news from me.

Even in my misery, I didn't see why she had to conceal her delight. I congratulated her, when I heard about her happy condition.

There are levels of sensitivity and I'm sure pushing a baby into my arms at that time might have been a step too far. But most mothers would know that.

Does the bride-to-be come in for criticism that she might upset her spinster or jilted colleague?

Should the girls loudly comparing calories show concern for the worker who could be on the verge of an eating disorder? No - and nobody would expect them to.

We live our lives, not meaning to hurt others.

So why do mothers get put under the microscope? Accountant Lisa reckons it's the baby bores who ruin it for the rest of us. "One of our secretaries is just back from maternity leave, and never stops going on about her baby – how he eats, how he sleeps, how he fills his nappy," she said. "She used to be so entertaining. But now she talks about nothing else. I try to ignore her, until she starts telling me my biological clock is ticking, and then I just want to scream."

I understand this is taking the motherhood conversation a bit too far. But why do baby bores have to spoil it for the rest of us? We don't allow bridezillas to put us off weddings. The fitness freaks don't stop us going to the gym. There are extreme versions of every personality.

But hopefully they're the exception to the general rule.

Like I said to the last cynic who tutted that he couldn't stand children: "Count yourself lucky your parents didn't feel the same."

Are you fed up of feeling you can't talk about your children without the risk of being told you're boring?

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