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No, I Don't Want to Bathe Your Baby

Monday, March 18, 2013

Okay so here's the thing, why do people with children think people WITHOUT children want to do the mundane things with their children that they have to do?

And I mean NO offense to people with children. This is solely directed at my best friend, but I've seen it a number of times from different people I know.

So last night, my best friend of 25 years invited me to dinner at her house. She has two adorable boys, a 2.5 year old and a 1 year old. She also has an 11 week old puppy (a St. Bernard no less) - so needless to say, her hands are full. Anyway, so we have dinner at which her 2.5 year old proceeds to have a meltdown because there's no watermelon in the fruit salad. Like him, I wanted to have a meltdown too - I really like water melon. But I held it in thankfully (though sometimes I do wish I could express my emotions the same way a child does - it seems so much easier and straightforward). Now, this is totally cool - kid can have a meltdown all he wants - he's 2.5. They do that. But my sensitive non-child rearing ears were ringing so I had to step outside to 'enjoy the view' while they got him under control. This annoyed her and she told me in an offhanded way that if I wanted to have children I'd have to get used to it. My point is that I don't have children right now, so no, I don't have to get used to it.

So then after dinner she says 'come and bathe them with me! it'll be fun!'. And this is where I didn't stand up to her because it would seem extremely rude (at least to her). Don't get me wrong, I love these kids, they are my best friend's kids! I'm their 'auntie'! But that's the thing - they are my friend's kids! They're not mine - so when I decide I don't want to bathe your kids, don't be offended. The thing is, I know her and she would be instantly offended if I said 'no thanks'.

I am a 36 year-old single woman with no man in site who desperately would like to get married and have a family and hears the biological clock ticking in her ear constantly. My best friend knows this and thinks she's HELPING by asking me to come along and help her bathe her children. Quite honestly, the last thing I want to do is try to keep a slippery one year old from falling in the tub and watching the 2.5 year old dog-pile on him because he loves him so much.

I never know what to say to her that won't set her off! She's so sensitive and to her eyes, she's helping me 'experience what it's like to be a mother'. And while I understand the sentiment, I'm not all that interested. When and if I have a kid, I'll be able to experience what it's like then. And as you mothers know (and I've been told) - your love for your children creates an abundance of patience and understanding. But when you're one step removed, maybe not so patient or understanding. A naked 2.5 year old standing in a tub yelling 'I DON'T WANNA GET OUT OF THE TUB' is not my idea of fun and since I don't have children and he's not mine, I don't want really want to be doing it. I'm thoroughly convinced they made babies and puppies adorable because otherwise they'd be left on doorsteps constantly.

I don't have the patience - I know this about me. But I also feel, I don't need to have the patience. Yet. If/when I have children, then it's my responsibility and then I need to have the patience. So how do I tell my best friend that while I love her children, it's not my idea of fun to change their diapers or try to get them to go to sleep? She acts as if I've never taken care of babies and need or want to 'learn'. Now that she's the expert mom, she seems to have forgotten that I've done it. Plenty of times. In fact, before she had her own, I had changed hundreds of diapers more than she had, had more than a single girl's fair share of baby puke and tried to calm a shrieking child down dozens of times. Granted, I was being paid for it. So I'd just like to point out - she was not offering to pay me to help bathe her children. :)

Does all this sound harsh? I'm just hacking this out in my head. Part of my journey to get healthy is to think about the things that bother me, be really honest with myself about my thoughts and feelings, deal with them better, journal them, plan better ways to handle them.

So I guess this was just a venting really but I'm considering it part of my journey.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    You have the best blogs. I don't like spending time with children (unless I am photographing them - love doing that for their families!) but I can't wait to have children of my own. I think when they are yours, it's different. And nothing about watching a screaming naked 2.5 year old in the tub, sounds fun. Nothing. :)
    1731 days ago
    I so understand this. I find myself not hanging out with people who have kids for this reason. I'm just not that interested in children. I'm not 100% sure I want any, but I know for a fact I'm not ready yet (and I'm 32). I sometimes feel like people have kids and suddenly become completely different people! And I hate it when you mention you don't want kids and people always go "you will someday" like it's inevitable.

    I feel ya!
    1753 days ago
    I'm 30, I don't have any kids, but I'd definitely like to have some one day. That being said, this is like someone asking you to hang out with them while they buy insurance for their Ferrari. Note to everyone: these are the worst parts of these respective things. I don't want to deal with them until I have to, even though I would like children and a Ferrari.
    1753 days ago
    Oh, I've been there. I'm really leaning towards not having children. During the years I thought I wanted to have kids, I suffered with PCOS and couldn't ovulate normally. In retrospect, that was a blessing in disguise, seeing as how I ended up with 2 divorces. However, pretty much all of my RL friends have kids and a lot of times, if I want to spend time with them, I need to be OK with children. I won't lie. Babies make me extremely uncomfortable. I helped raised my brother (there was 12 years difference between us), so it's not like I've never been around a baby before. But I'm just not a huge fan (which leads me to the "no children" thing. It hasn't gotten any better).

    I think, even though she may be sensitive, you need to at least try to sit down with her and talk about your feelings. Explain it in kind of a "When this happens, I feel _____. I appreciate you and your support, but instead of helping, it makes me feel _____." Kind of like what I posted yesterday. The key is not to act accusatory. If she tries to make you feel guilty or goes on the defensive, say something like "I'm sorry you feel that way. I know you are trying to help and I'm not upset with you. I just want you to understand where I am coming from too." and repeat if necessary. As long as you don't get baited into feeling guilty or arguing, she should hopefully realize that tactic is not going to work. We humans are masters of the guilt trip, but the important thing is that you should NEVER feel like your feelings are belittled or that how you feel is wrong somehow. No friend or family member should ever make you feel that way. It's important to stand up for yourself and how you feel, because no one else will do it. And if you continue to just "give in" and you don't draw boundaries, you are going to feel resentful and all those bottled feelings are going to either come busting out all at once or you are just going to feel miserable all the time.

    Hopefully she will calm down and you two can then talk about what you can do to compromise. Maybe you two take some time once a month to go out for dinner without her kids. Let her know you would like to go with her when the kids go to a park or something and then play with the kids (good exercise too!). That way you two have time together with and without the kids. Set some ground rules...you don't want to help with certain things, but maybe you'd like to babysit for her some so she can get out on her own. If the kids are upset and you are visiting them, you may need to step outside for a few minutes. Just make sure she knows it's not an issue with the kid itself, but it's something you need to do to calm your own anxiety.

    If she's still defensive and uncooperative, then the decision is yours. I know she's been your friend for a long time. But you need to decide what's more important...how you feel vs. pleasing her. Maybe you just need to dial back the friendship a bit. I'm not sure...that's only a choice you can make if it comes to that.

    Hope something in this novel helps! lol
    1753 days ago

    Comment edited on: 4/3/2013 11:53:10 AM
    Doesn't sound harsh at all.

    I feel the same way a lot of the time. I don't have kids yet. For the last few years, I have known that I am intensely NOT READY. I do want them eventually. Some people cannot hold these two concepts in their heads at once.

    I'm actually really glad you shared all this on your blog, because I have been thinking of doing the same. I have no one in my life I can talk to about these kinds of feelings, because everyone I'm surrounded by right now either has kids, really annoyingly wants ME to have kids NOW, or really wants kids but can't have them for physical, financial, or personal reasons.

    That's actually what made me think of something you didn't mention... I think she's incredibly rude. She knows you also would like to start a family and hear your biological clock ticking. That's just deeply insensitive of her. "Oh, you want a family but don't have a man? Here share MY kids, you poor thing who can't have your own right now." OH MY GOD, lady, way to rub it in. Jeeeeez. I also feel this way about people who are all about their pregnancy constantly at work. You never know who may have just had a gut wrenching life ruining miscarriage, so maybe dial it down a couple hundred notches.

    It sounds to me like she's a little resentful of how full her hands are right now. (When she says stuff like "well if you want to have kids, you're going to have to learn to deal with it") I'm guessing the "bathe them with me!" thing, though, was just desperation for adult company. Which is fine, but you know. Just cop to it. She should have you over after the kids are in bed for genuine adults only conversation so she can spend some time feeling like a person instead of JUST a mommy.

    But yeah. I have a lot of child-having-vs-childless-people friendships related rage and anxiety right now...
    1753 days ago
  • JEM2929
    Hey! What I wanted to tell you is this:

    I'm sure your friend means well, however asking (or demanding) you share in the mom type activities she is required to keep up with isn't really allowing you to share in the joys of being a parent. Bathing the screaming child is work for moms, not the enjoyable lovey snuggling, or making crafts, or a day at the zoo. It's the stuff she is probably tired of having to do herself. So while she means well, I'd simply say that these are not my kids and when/if the time comes that is when I will be doing mom things. Not until then.

    I can't tell you how many diapers I've been told to change (not asked) or how many times people have assumed I'm supposed to take their kids simply because I've chosen to not have any of my own. If you don't want to do these things, don't feel obligated. They aren't your kids and you shouldn't be expected to do those types of things. I'm with the other posters here, next time it comes up I would gently let her know that this is not what you're here for and you'd be more comfortable if you weren't judged for not enjoying listening to a child scream. Having kids was her choice, not yours (yet anyways) and she is still the parent. If she has an issue with you stating the facts and blows up at you, maybe if she can step back and think about it she would regret blowing up. Good luck! Keep us posted!
    1767 days ago
    I understand how you feel and don't think that your friend will have that big of an issue with it when you tell her how you feel about it.
    I do not have kids of my own but I do help or watch other peoples kids all the time so there has not been very many days in my life when I was not watching someone elses kid or kids.
    I have had friends come over that like to help with the kid and I have had friends that are like you and would rather not.
    I found that once I knew who liked to help and who did not it was easier to get along when the kids were there and when people that did not like to help and felt odd around the kids we set up times to hang out when the kids were in school or play schools or sleeping most friends take the time to understand their friends and make them feel more comfortable so i am sure that you will find it easier when the feelings are out in the open :)
    1768 days ago
    There is no way I would take care of someone else's kids. It was hard enough when it was my own, and now that they are nearly out the door, there is not a friendship on EARTH important enough to me if they can't understand that.
    1769 days ago
    Frankly, given the choice, I'd much rather bathe the Saint Bernard puppy. I'm childless by choice for many reasons, and have run into the same type of person, who can't imagine that I won't fall in love with little Markie or Jeannine on sight and want to do all sorts of Mommy things with them. Like you, I believe God makes them adorable so we won't abandon them the first time they decide to scream ALL NIGHT for no particular reason. But He also makes sure we're so steeped in hormones that we're punch-drunk in love with them from the start.

    You said, "I never know what to say to her that won't set her off!" So you go along with whatever she wants you to do, in hopes of keeping the peace, while seething inside. Been there, done that. It really doesn't matter if she thinks she's doing this 'for your own good.' What matters is what you think, and you seem to be saying Mommy Chores do not make you a happy camper right now.

    If you haven't told her this, you should. If she continues to push you to do things you don't want to do, you may have to decide whether the friendship is worth participating in an occasional bath session. emoticon
    1769 days ago
    If she goes on a rant, it appears to me to be a tactic to control you with a guilt trip. I think you should talk to her when you are both calm and not wracked with emotion. Then tell her you love her and her children, but bathing kids is not a fun activity for you. Maybe she just wanted a little help or a social time while she's doing her mother-work, but tell her you'll just watch from a distance. Maybe when bath time rolls around, you could say your good-byes.
    1769 days ago
    I agree you should really talk with her.
    1769 days ago
  • JEM2929
    Oh man, you and me could be twins haha. I have so much to say about this but I'm back to work right now. I will try to finish my thought this evening after my workout.

    I am in a committed relationship and we will not be having children. I have had this debate and this argument time and time again with many people, if not just in my head. It doesn't matter even if you have 100 children of your own. Ugh, I'm frustrated for you just reading your blog - I will post more tonight!
    1769 days ago
    I think you need to sit down with your friend and tell her exactly what you just told all of us. Like they always say if she is really your friend she will truly understand. I'm not saying that she's not going to get mad, go on a rant and not talk to you for a few days ( I would predict that is highly likely), but I do hope once she has had a chance to absorb what you have said that she will realize you are absolutely right. There is a huge difference between visiting children and talking care of children that are your own. Even if you love your children with all your heart, I can fully understand why you don't want to "take care" of them as if they were your own. When the time comes and you do have children of your own you do establish that special bond that makes you do those kinds of things as second nature and you don't really even think about them.. you just do it. It's unfair of your friend to expect you to want to participate in her "Mommy" activities. I'm sure she does mean well wanting to give you the "experience", but you seriously need to tell her in a kind and gentle way (with those sensitive eyes looking at you) that you are grateful for the offer, but you really don't want or need that particular experience until the children are your own. Good Luck!
    1769 days ago
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