22/01/2014 05:39 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

'Try Having Kids': Does Being A Parent Make You Smug?

'Try Having Kids': Does being a parent make you smug?Getty

I'm sat at my desk when the office junior stumbles in. His hair is a mess, his clothes untucked, and his eyes sunken and hollow. He looks like he's just watched all of the Twilight movies back-to-back, or perhaps one episode of The Only Way is Essex.

"Sorry I'm late," he mumbles, probably with rancid morning breath (I'm not close enough to have a little sniff to find out for sure). "I had a rough night's sleep. Woke up at 7."

With those few words, any sympathy I might have had for him evaporates, and I swivel on my chair to glare at the blinking cursor on my computer screen. Inside, I'm yelling incredulously.


Seven O'clock?! He reckons seven O'clock is EARLY?! That would be a lie-in for me. Try having kids, then you'll know what early mornings feel like!


'Try having kids.' It's those three little words that all parents use towards those who are not yet, or who never will be, the proud father or mother of a child who screams all night and requires three hands just to keep in one room.

Because beneath all of the consternation and bitten tongues shimmers an undercurrent of smugness that many people find comes with being a parent.

Wake up early, did you? Try having kids. Annoyed because you have to carry just one suitcase from your house to your car when you go on holiday? Try having kids. Bless, not enough money to go for a nice night out? TRY HAVING KIDS.

Because we're parents, and therefore have to juggle a million things at once just to get yourself and the kids ready for school, I can't help but feel that a small part of us feels a little haughty at being so good at time management, at being able to demonstrate a wide range of skills all at once.

We can butter toast, make a phone call and dress a baby all at the same time. Move aside, Inspector Gadget.

Look at us, we're taking on parenthood, the biggest challenge any person can face in life, and we're coping.

You think you've got it bad, having to rearrange your haircut until next weekend? Having two kids has sapped my time and money to the extent that I literally have not had a single hair on my head cut for the past five weeks. I look like one half of Jedward, and am pretty convinced that some kind of animal has nestled into the thatch of hair just above my right ear and is settling down for winter.

For some people the feeling is smugness, for others jealousy, for others a heady blend of the two.

Mum-of-two Kate Green tweeted that the complaints of childless friends "makes me jealous of their lie-ins and noise free hangovers". Ian Newbold, a widower who raises his son, agrees. "There's elements of smugness," he says, "but envy at them finding the unimportant important."

"I do catch myself being smug, and perhaps do, a little, think of the problems of my friends without kids as being easier to deal with," says another friend. "We chose to have kids though, so we made that choice knowing things would change!"

Fiona is an ambassador for smugness when parenting is concerned. "I'm only 21 so all my friends are out partying, and I often hear after a night out 'Oh, I'm so tired...' I find myself saying 'I wish I could be tired from doing something that I enjoy, try having a baby with colic screaming at 4am!"

She goes on, to talk about how annoyed she and her boyfriend get when people complain at them for being late ("Don't think they realise we have a baby to sort out beforehand!"), and bemoans the fact that before her parenting days she could "spend money on clothes, shoes and bags!"

Smugness or not, it seems that becoming a parent does make many of us long for the freedom we once had, so much so that we wonder whether that's what Mel Gibson was really yelling about in Braveheart.


We recognise what we have, of course, and how lucky we are; and we wouldn't change anything for the world – but that doesn't stop us feeling a teensy bit jealous when young, free and single friends boast about their adventurous weekends.


Perhaps 'Infantisaurus' says it best. When asked whether being a parent makes him feel smug, he simply remarks: "That's just the way I express resentment, I think."

Are you a smug parent?
Do you find child-free people's moans and grumbles nothing to what you have you have to deal with every day?