An unapologetic open letter
My dearest friends and acquaintances who don’t have any children,
I feel I should write you this letter to explain a few things from my point of view, not because they necessarily need explaining or that I owe you an explanation of any sort, but because I feel like getting it out of my system.
You know how I keep saying “I’m sorry I can’t make it because (insert something related to having a child)? Well, I’m writing you this to tell you I’m not, I’m not sorry at all.
I should just stop saying it.
I’m not sorry my life has changed because I have a son, I’m not sorry I can’t party like I think I’m 25. I’m not sorry I’m busy between 4.30 and 7.30 every single day. I’m not sorry I have to consider nap times or the constant wants and needs of a little one. I’m not sorry I can’t stay out all night. I’m not sorry I can’t do whatever I want when I want. I’m not sorry that my concerns these days revolve around having a stack of teeny tiny clean pyjamas, teaching my son the difference between seeing something and hearing something, or reading books about sheep. I’m not sorry I have to deal with temper tantrums or dirty nappies. I’m not even sorry I haven’t had a full nights sleep in… I don’t know how long.
I’m not sorry.
I’ve never been happier.
While most of you have been wonderful and welcoming of this gorgeous new addition to our family, some of you, although very few, have perhaps had a more difficult time adjusting to the new me. Which is fair enough. I’m not writing this to say you have to love my son because I do or that you should in any way feel guilty. But if you think for a second that I am missing out on anything, or that my life, or that I personally somehow have less to offer now that I am a mother, you are sadly mistaken.
Sure, I don’t watch the news much anymore. I simply don’t have the time or energy for it, so I’ll fall off the wagon in any such conversation. I was never that into news and current affairs anyway, I’m more of the art and culture type. I don’t go out partying on weekends, hell, I don’t even make it down to the pub very often. And yes, I do spend a lot of time talking about my kid, or recent research into children’s sleep patterns or why I don’t let my son watch tv because these things are important to me. I understand that this may not always be of interest to you. And sometimes I complain that I’m tired or that I haven’t had much sleep, or that I haven’t had any “me time” for ages. Saying things like “If you can’t handle the heat, get out of the kitchen” really doesn’t help, and tells me not only do you not understand, but you just don’t care. I’d never say that to you when you complain about your life and your job, and let’s be fair, you do complain, we all do. But ask me if I’d change a thing and the answer would be no. Because I’m not sorry.
I know some people thought I was having a walk in the park when I was a full-time student being paid by the university to study, and some even continued to think so when I added full-time mother to that. “So what do you do all day?” Really? You have to ask? To the very few of you this applies I really have nothing but pity because you clearly don’t understand what either of those things entail. I’m always on call, I never clock off. When I’m not with my son I have to work on my degree. There is no such thing as a holiday or proper time off. (Actually, the last time I had a proper holiday was in 2009). But I’m not sorry about any of that either.
To those of you who have taken the time to come visit over the past 16 months despite me rarely if ever returning the favour, or just dropped an email to say hi, or accommodated the time and place of things so that we could come to whatever is happening, I love you even more for it. When you’ve gone with us to the zoo or offered to watch Anakin while I have a shower, when you’ve spent all night here alone on a Friday or Saturday so that we could go out and have dinner, it makes me want to squeeze you so tight and shout how much I love you. Because it’s people like you who are true friends. And let’s not forget when you gave me Dida-day. That still brings a tear to my eye and makes my heart burst in the very best way.
So when you ask me to come to something and I say no because my son still breastfeeds and needs to be put to bed at a certain time, or because I’m simply too tired and life after 9 doesn’t really exist anymore, it’s unfortunate but I don’t feel it needs an apology. I occasionally wish I could accommodate both of you at the same time and in some cases I feel bad that I can’t, but I’m never sorry for what I have to do instead. I am right where I need to be. What I can say I’m sorry about is if I’ve made you feel like you don’t matter as much as you used to, or that I don’t have any time for you. Because you do matter and I do have time, just not when or as much as I used to.
Much love and no apologies, Dida