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Things we can’t say in front of people with children

By Victoria Fryer 

Are there things you feel uncomfortable saying in front of people with children? As childfree or childless people, are there things we can’t say?

I’m so tired. My best friend—who became a first-time mother about eight months ago—and I have a standing phone conversation several days a week while we’re both on our commutes home from work. And after a long, sometimes stressful day, she often hears me yawn and say, “I’m so tired today.” I always immediately feel like I have to qualify it with, “Not as tired as you are, I’m sure!”

When I get home, I make dinner, leave the dishes in the sink for another day, and flop on the couch with a glass of wine by around eight in the evening. But I know that my parent friends, particularly those with children who haven’t yet started school or become at least a little self-sufficient, run from sun-up to sundown. It’s bottles, diapers, laundry, pickup and drop-off, et cetera, all day long. And for some, it’s middle of the night wake up calls to a crying, hungry baby. So, saying “I’m tired” makes me feel a little bit guilty—or even lazy.

I’m too busy. For a lot of the same reasons above, I feel bad when I say that I’m too busy. Either parents have young children and have the full days I described, or they have school-age children who need pick-ups and drop-offs at after school and weekend activities, breakfasts, lunches, and dinners made, and homework supervised. So saying “I’m too busy” is often qualified by, “And if I’m busy, I can’t even imagine how busy you are! How do you do it all?”

My version of busy is that I have to go to the store after work, which pushes dinner back to 7:30 or 8:00 p.m., or I have a mid-afternoon Saturday event that cuts into my relaxation time. Even writing this, it makes me feel like a lazy underachiever. But for my own mental health, I have to have a lot of downtime and alone time. Knowing this about myself is one of the reasons I chose not to have children.

Now, I know many of you are probably far busier than I am. You’re involved in charity work, you take on a lot of responsibility with your families, maybe you work long hours—or any number of other things that take up that time I usually spend lounging on my couch, decompressing after an only eight hour day that has still managed to, in some way, stress me out.

I know I’m probably being too sensitive; being tired and feeling busy—it’s all relative. But I still feel like, sometimes, I don’t have the right to say that I’m too tired or too busy. But for folks like me, who do have a little more downtime because they don’t have children, do you ever have to deal with this?

Victoria Fryer is a writer and content strategist. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two pit bulls. You can find her on Twitter @extoria.

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