Moms & Dads Parentsplain It All

"Parent-splaining" is the latest craze to sweep the nation  the internet, and if you’re reading this post right now, I’m guessing you’ve come across at least one example online. Broken down to its most basic elements, parent-splaining is defined as “parents explaining parenting to their childless friends.” Whether they’re outlining precisely why they can’t hang out with their friends anymore in excruciating detail (“Like sorry dudes MY KIDS ARE ME NOW”) or providing unsolicited lessons in what it’s like to have the most important job in the world, parent-splainers get an enormous amount of attention when their tips and rants go viral. For every enlightened mom or dad who rises to the occasion to “educate” the childless public on the sacrifices and drudgery of having kids, there are thousands of eager parents at the ready to share the parenting real talk with their expansive social networks.

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Inexplicably, and yet also predictably, more than 300,000 people on Facebook have ‘Liked’ this week’s essential Huffington Post parent-splaining item, 'Once We Become Parents We Don't Want to Hang Out With You Anymore (But Not for the Reasons You Think),' which is in a similar vein as Jason Good’s 2011 post 'To all my friends without children.', and just on the heels of the latest YouTube sensation, 'Friends Without Kids.' But those are just a few generic parenting-splaining examples; there’s also the popular “What Stay-At-Home Moms Do All Day (It’s Way More Than You Think!)” angle, famously sermonized last year by Matt Walsh and more recently by Daddy Fishkins in faddish blog posts that get shared by parents all the time. Basically, if it reads like a fun-loving open letter about parenting that’s tinged with self-satisfaction, a large number of parents will go apeshit for it.

I wrote about this in detail over on Mommyish, where you can also find several examples of parents parent-splainin’ themselves (‘cause non-parents just don’t understand). But before you read that rambling novel, below I’ve “curated” a delightful range of pointers, ponderings, and preoccupations parents have about parenthood that absolutely needed to be communicated via Facebook. These things are important! 

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1. Parents Can’t Do Lunch So Stop Asking

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Haha, FREE? For LUNCH? The FUCK is that?! Lololol okay yeah, let’s get “lunch” during my “free time” away from my living, breathing CHILD who is my responsibility at all times, that sounds awesomesauce! I’ll get the chicken sandwich and tomato soup, and you can get whatever it is that stupid, childless bitches eat. What is that, like, lettuce wraps with a side of total ignorance? Yum! HELLO. I’m a MOM NOW.

2. God’s Gifts

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Poor friends-of-Terri. They don’t get to hang out with her anymore. :((( They must be feeling such a roller coaster of emotions right now. Both happy for Terri because she has those three incredibly precious girls who are all sweet little angel-gifts from the Lord, but also kind of unhappy because it’s like ever since Terri gave birth, she’s morphed into a preachy Explainer who talks shit on Facebook and doles out passive-aggressive smiley faces like it’s her job. You know what, Terri? You’re the one igniting the drama, so by ALL means keep doing what YOU’RE doing, because it’s actually very amusing and your friends are highly entertained. :)

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The Ongoing Saga Of Parent Parking

Last week on Mommyish, I referenced a PostSecret entry that said: "I always park in spots reserved for expectant moms but I’ve never been pregnant… I just stick out my stomach & waddle into the store." This shameful, naughty disclosure got me thinking about the many mythologies that surround parent parking, despite it being a pretty new phenomenon. For one thing, parents who get enraged by the Others who take up “their” parking spaces act like these spaces have always existed — like they’ve been sanctioned off in every parking lot throughout history. Either that, or hostile parents are like, “Hey, my ancestors didn’t fight for my right to occupy this parking space just so some asshole who’s shopping alone could come through and take it!” Parking equality be damned; it’s 2014, and it’s time we showed all the parents and expectant mothers out there the parking lot respect they so richly deserve.

Granted, I’m not one of those people who thinks that parent parking (which boasts a variety of official titles including ‘Parent and Child,’ ‘Expectant Mother,’ ‘Family Parking,’ and ‘Entitled Minivans’) is that big of a deal. I don’t care either way. If I saw a space, I wouldn’t race to it, nor would I outright dismiss it. I suppose that’s because even though parents may be the Chosen People for whom the spaces are intended, the only designated parking spaces that are legally recognized are the disabled spaces. (And sanctimommies would really appreciate a vote on that parking lot ratio.) Sure, it’s nice when drivers leave the parent spaces available, but is it a crime not to? No. In fact, some people even park in them on principle, simply because they can.

It is this unmerciful loophole that absolutely infuriates parent parking crusaders and causes them to lash out both in real life and online with nary a shred of dignity to be found. Let’s check out several new examples:

1. Stoopid Bitches

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Daaaaamn, Trish, way to reduce Steve to an overly aggressive-yet-exceedingly sensitive wad of twisted up underwear. He may be chock full of character flaws, but there’s no real reason for him to “need” to park in those suggested spaces, as Steven (a person with a similar name but an actual disability) so helpfully pointed out. 

And yet, Steve still felt every bit as entitled to scold, shame, and “cuss out” a random stranger whom he’d apparently expected to do him a favor. This is the failed logic that angry parent parking crusaders use to justify screaming at people in parking lots in front of their kids. “You didn’t do me a favor by parking elsewhere, so now you must SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES, you ignorant bitch! FEEL THE WRATH OF MY WORDS AND THE HEATED GLANCES OF MY INNOCENT CHILDREN, you stupid childless idiot!”

2. Disabled Spaces > Parent and Child Spaces :(

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Jen’s problem isn’t that Sainsbury’s doesn’t have enough parent and child parking spaces. It’s that she considers herself disabled just because she has a baby. Despite being an able-bodied mother, she genuinely doesn’t believe she should be fined for illegally parking in a disabled space, and now she’s taken to social media to get some answers!

But the truth is, the number of parent parking spaces is irrelevant. Big box retailers and grocery stores could dedicate 75% of their parking lots to those spaces, and they would still be occupied in the same way they are now — on a first come, first serve basis. Does Jen really think she was the only parent shopping at Sainbury’s that day who didn’t get a parent and child parking space? And why does her comment have 20 Likes compared to Sainsbury’s 10? This is horseshit.

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Newborn Baby Visitation Rules and The Descent Into Sancti-Madness

At last, it’s time to talk about the latest ‘n greatest Facebook fad-turned-custom: The posting of a list of visitation rules or “light suggestions” by parents when they have a new baby, which is sort of like the “open letter” of parent overshare. To some, these lists are an easy way to communicate information to people who might want to visit the baby or lend a hand. To others, the lists are a narcissistic and passive-aggressive approach to telling family and friends what, and what not, to do. You can probably guess which side of the debate I’m on.

Every now and then, new comments appear on old visitation rules blog posts that attempt to justify them. Usually the argument is that some parents have morons for friends and their relatives are all assholes who chain smoke over bassinets, so those people need instruction, they’re going to drop by unannounced, etc. But my feeling is, the majority of people aren’t that stupid, so why not just email or text the ones who are and politely ask them not to come over after a three-day bender with a raging cold? Why post a list of obvious rules on Facebook when you could address a small handful of people more privately? 

What it comes down to is this: The notes and “tips” are tools that parents use to remind everyone what time it is — Baby Time. They want the meal train, the organic baby merch, and, if it’s not too much trouble, they wouldn’t mind if you cleaned their house, too. Sure, some people are just trying to ensure that the folks who visit are healthy and their hands are clean, but even then, there’s a sense of, “We know how much you’ve been dying to meet our perfect creation, but first you’re going to have to follow a few basic orders.” Sometimes it’s not only the parents who are annoying, but their friends who are in charge of helping, too. We already know "it takes a village" (more on that in my Mommyish column), but a lot of the requests seem to translate to “Mr. and Mrs. Obnoxious seek your money and attention,” rather than, “If you can help out, great! If not, they’d still love to see you if you want to meet the baby.” I’m not saying these lists or requests are completely ineffective and rude; I’ve just never once heard someone say, “My friend/co-worker/relative’s list of ‘new baby rules’ was SUPER helpful.” In fact, since the column ran, I received this email:

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To that end, let’s check out some examples of the ways that people talk about newborn visitation online:

1. Dinner Time

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This closed group memo isn’t necessarily out of line, but something about it makes me want to leave a casserole made of pizza dough, steak, golden raisins, and green peppers sitting in the new parents’ mailbox. The way “please” is used in the last line of the note is akin to your boss saying, “Please don’t be offended if I don’t ask you to come back to work ever again,” or the bank saying, “Please don’t be offended if we foreclose on your house.” I understand it’s a “polite suggestion” to dumbfucks who come over and never leave, but it also implies that people WANT to come over and never leave. It’s the Catch-22 of visitation note demands suggestions.

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