I’m sorry for what I said, or didn’t say. I’m sorry for what I did, or didn’t do. I had no idea what you were going through. I still really don’t know what you were going through. But now as a parent with two young kids myself, born less than two years apart, I at least have a better idea.
Before I had kids, I thought I was busy. I packed a lot into my days, but I didn’t realize that everything I was doing was basically for myself. I could have done nothing. I could have gone to bed at 9pm and woken up at 9am. I could have made no social plans. I wouldn’t have been happy with that lifestyle pre-kids, but I could have done that. And now I’m a parent, and everything is different. But you had kids before me, so you already knew that.
I knew that you were tired, but I didn’t know just how tired. I didn’t know that when you went to bed you had an endless loop of tasks running through your head. You’d slip under the covers and mentally calculate how much time you could sleep…if you fell asleep right now…and if the kids didn’t wake up in the middle of the night. I didn’t know that you were beyond sleepy, but also emotionally and physically drained.
If you were breast feeding and working, I didn’t know that you were always trying to calculate the exact right amount of milk to produce (that is, if you even could control it); that on days you produced too little milk you were worried about dipping into your freezer supply; and on days you produced too much milk you were worried that you’d have oversupply issues.
If you were bottle feeding, I didn’t know that you were thinking about having access to a water source at the perfect temperature — warm but not too hot — or whatever temperature was agreeable to your baby on that day. I didn’t know that you had a seemingly endless supply of bottles to be washed, everyday, and that it required running the dishwasher every night.
When you had your first date night with a real babysitter — the kind that isn’t Gramma, or Auntie, or a close friend — I didn’t know you had a hard time relaxing because you felt like you left half your heart at home. That when your phone buzzed and the sitter confirmed the baby was asleep you finally could enjoy that first sip of wine.
When I asked you to come to a social event, I didn’t realize that you were calculating whether you’d have the energy after bedtime to actually commit. I didn’t know that when you said yes, you were worried about cancelling last minute and being perceived a flake. I didn’t realize when you said no you were worried I wouldn’t invite you out again.
I’m sorry if I silently judged you for prioritizing naptime. I didn’t realize what little monsters kids can become if they miss their nap. Yeah they probably seemed just fine at the party/BBQ/park to me, but I didn’t have to deal with them at 6pm when they threw spaghetti on the walls and refused to wear socks because socks are scary.
I’m sorry for silently judging you when you let your kids have mac ‘n cheese for dinner…again. I didn’t know that kids can love a food one day, then hate the exact same food the next day. I didn’t know that mac ‘n cheese is a godsend and having your kids eat something is better than nothing at all.
I apologize for wondering why your kids fingernails were always dirty, even though you probably clipped them just yesterday. I didn’t realize that kids are SO dirty, and that actually being dirty isn’t so bad after all.
To my family members, thank you for bringing your kids to my wedding. I had no idea the weight of the request when I wanted you all to participate in the wedding. I didn’t realize how hard it was to get yourself dressed and presentable in addition to the same for a few tiny humans. They all were perfect and I loved every second, so thank you.
To my coworkers who had kids first, I’m sorry for judging you for running frazzled into a meeting at 9:05am. I was unaware that you could be up before 6am and still barely make it into your first meeting at 9. While I slept in, went for a morning jog, and was at my desk reading the news before my first meeting I didn’t know all the battles you’d already fought — toothbrushing, putting on shoes, changing diapers, getting dressed, eating breakfast, childcare dropoffs…
I’m sorry for wondering why you always kept your phone out during meetings, in case your childcare provider reached out. When your phone buzzed during a meeting and you saw it was daycare I didn’t know you had an immediate visceral reaction, the kind in which you get a lump in your throat and feel like someone just punched you in the gut at the same time. And then when you read your text and saw it was a reminder to bring more diapers you could breathe again.
And to those folks who have, or will, become parents after me, no apologies necessary. It’s all worth it.