Mommyshame

STFU, Parents: You Don’t Know Love Until You’re A Parent

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Ah, love. It’s a many splendor thing — especially when you’re a new parent. The oxytocin levels increase, you look down at your sleeping or barfing little mini-me and say to yourself, “This. This is what I never knew I was missing from life, and it is incredible.” Right? How many people do we all know who have expressed this feeling, or have had it themselves? But the funny thing about abstract concepts like ‘love’ and ‘happiness’ is that they’re supposed to be self-defined. Who I am to tell a person that she hasn’t experienced true bliss until she’s had the carnitas from my local taco truck, or hiked to the peak of a particular mountain? Why should I deem myself an authority on someone’s happiness meter when my subjective reality probably vacillates wildly different from theirs?

I often wonder this when I hear about people telling their friends to have a baby and either partially or completely accusing them of not understanding what love really means. Granted, the love parents feel for their (own) kids appears to be pretty universal, so there’s a good track record to believe that having kids is as good, if not better, than hang gliding in Costa Rica. Everyone, even the shittiest parents who roam the earth, appears to agree that having kids is the fucking shit, a notion brought on by an animalistic desire we all have to protect and nourish our babies once they’re born. Normally, I’d be glad that we have this built-in barometer that adjusts itself accordingly once a tiny baby needs sustenance in our clumsy care — and I am glad, for the most part — except that every time a couple has a baby, they become official annoying authorities on all things Love.

1. love of your life

All of a sudden, the love new parents thought they knew B.B. (before baby) is a total joke. It’s pretty much a single penny in the massive FOUNTAIN of love they now swim in on the daily. A poopy diaper equals love. A gassy smile equals love. The way babies’ eyes can see right through you, can see all of the mistakes you made in your youth but can forgive you for them, too, because babies are sweet li’l redeemers, is equivalent to eating at least 100 carnitas tacos from the best truck you can find. And if you’re not in the know, your friends, or even total strangers, will ensure that you will be.

2. Perfect love_perfectWhat cracks me up is that so many parents believe they’re the first ones to tell their friends to have a baby. As if no one else who’s ever experienced the wondrousness of parenthood has metaphorically taken each of their friends by the shoulders and said something to the effect of, “If you don’t have a baby, SOON, you will be missing out on the greatest human achievement possible, and the greatest feeling of your entire life, EVER. But yeah, sure, take that new job in Singapore or adopt a new puppy or whatever. Those things are good, too, if you’re baby-less.” NEWSFLASH, parents: You are not the first person to tell your bestie or a random passerby that she should have a baby in order to experience love’s fullness. That’s precisely why it’s so grating. If you’re a person of a certain age (female or male!), and you’ve either happily chosen or sadly been unable to have kids yet, the chances of hearing from someone, or multiple people, on the Positively Procreation PR Team are extremely high. But it really shouldn’t be that way, and I’m going to keep cramming that fact down new parents’ ever-loving throats until I stop receiving messages like this from readers:

3. True loveHey, someone has to say it. Why not me? Let’s take a look at some examples of parents who might want to press the brakes on their baby evangelizing both online and in real life. No one wants to hear about “the meaning of love” from some asshole with a baby. Trust me on this. New parents should enjoy parenthood, but when asked, say something like, “Honestly, it’s been better than we anticipated,” rather than, “Your life is a meaningless shell until you pop out one of these little sweethearts.” Try not to tell your friends what they’ve heard a million times before and never need to hear again. They’ll be happy you did. Maybe not as happy as the time your three-month infant laughed and sharted at the same time, but close to that.

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