Infertility – Respecting Parents
Are you finding it harder to spend time with friends who have children? You try to find other topics to talk about, but the conversation always seems to lead back their kids. It gets overwhelming to listen to. How can I ask you to respect parents when you’re frustrated that they don’t seem to respect you and what you’re going through?
I had a difficult time with this for several years. I was tired of trying to make an effort when it seemed like I couldn’t relate to most of my friends with children. So, in an effort to self-protect, I slowly disconnected from a lot of them. It was easier to hide away or try to find people to befriend that didn’t have children. Considering majority of people have families, that was difficult.
On one hand, I had longed to have our own children. I wanted to snuggle a sweet newborn baby and feel the bond between my child and me as I breastfed. I wanted to hear the pitter patter of little feet scampering throughout the house and squeals of laughter as I pictured Michael chasing them around.
On the other hand, I heard parents complaining a lot about the annoyances of their children and the ever-looming exhaustion they were feeling. They always seemed highly stressed, with no time to connect with friends or activities because they were too busy managing their kids. I seemed to hear less joyful stories and often more frustrating ones. I noticed my heart questioning if I even wanted kids anymore because it didn’t sound like it was special. Why couldn’t parents see the gift that their child was and embrace what God had given them?
Then the Lord humbled me by giving us a puppy.
Michael and I missed our dog Declan after he passed. He brought those extra noises into our quiet home that helped fill that void. He was older and sweet by that time, and easy to manage for the most part. The emptiness afterwards made our hearts long for another dog to love on. We didn’t feel called towards adopting a child or pursuing any other form of fertility, so we got another pup.
Wow, I did not know how much work a puppy is! Friends who had children came over soon after we got Mac. I told them that my respect grew for parents of little ones because I began to realize how much work they are, and the constant attention that’s needed to keep them safe. They informed me that having a puppy was pretty much on par with having a baby/child.
Michael and I run a dog-sitting side hustle through a company called, Rover. We had another dog with us for two weeks. He didn’t really care for Mac and his constant interest in play. So, it often ended up that the other dog would bark at us any time Mac brought us a toy or tried to play with him. It meant Michael and I plugging our ears for a while until he’d stop because nothing else seemed to quiet him down.
Because he wasn’t interested in playing with our dog, except for the odd time he decided to on his terms, this caused Mac to get into all sorts of trouble. He would relentlessly go on a cycle of trying to get whatever was on the counter in the kitchen, scratching at and chewing the old flooring in our back room, or going to the front door and trying to chew the rug we have there. He would instigate the other dog or jump at us to get our attention. I lost it one night when Michael came home. I was so frustrated with both of them and couldn’t do much to make it all stop.
And then it hit me – this is what daily parenting can be like. Kids vying for constant attention, needing your help with things, wanting to tell you about all of their imaginative stories, needing to feed yourself, husband, and the kids, getting them to various activities, and so on. It’s a relentless cycle of demands to follow until the kids are old enough to understand, “no”, “not right now”, “Mommy is talking/needs a break/is busy”, etc. This is on top of trying to get work done, keep the house in some semblance of order, and manage relationships outside of the home.
If you don’t/can’t have children, try to look with an open perspective at what your friends are going through. Many of them are thankful for the gifts of their children. They’re just overwhelmed with all of their responsibilities. They need our grace and help.
I finally understood how you can be angry with your child one moment and completely filled with love the next. Mac had a few rough days as mentioned above. Then came a day where he wasn’t feeling well. I went to the bathroom to get ready for bed. Mac came a minute later and flopped on the rug I was standing on. He fell asleep soon after. I finished getting ready, closed the door so the other dog would leave us alone, and stroked Mac’s head while whispering sweet motherly things to him. After a couple of minutes of bonding, I picked my 60 lb furry baby up off the rug and carried him to his crate to “tuck him in bed.” My heart was so full of love for him at that moment and I was thankful for this precious gift the Lord has given us for this time.
If you are a parent, please try to be mindful of your conversations with those who don’t have kids. Enjoy the refreshing change of variety in conversation that you can have with other adults. Also, take time to think of a special moment you’ve had with your child that you can share. It’s good to reflect upon the fun, silly, and bonding times you have with your children in amongst the chaos.
We all have our own burdens to bear. Each person’s is different but that’s the beauty of this Christian life. We’re all in it together. We’re to listen, love, encourage, and help one another as God’s family, work together for Jesus and the gospel. By showing grace and understanding, we can shine our lights for Jesus to a broken world that doesn’t share in the hope we have. Let’s support one another whether we have children or not in this life of faith.