You know, it truly amazes me the things I hear while out in the wild. Humanity never ceases to astound me with its unintentional ignorance, cluelessness, and constant comic relief. In the wake of another holiday season gone, I find myself reflecting on the utter insanity I’ve witnessed in the last ten or so days. I’ve watched good friends pitied for not having children. I’ve watched other good friends ridiculed for using their pets as surrogates. I’ve watched still others point and laugh at those of us who do have children as if we’ve developed some sort of plague.

I started writing the following awhile back, but never got around to posting it for the simple fact that it didn’t feel right at the time. Now it does, because it perfectly explains everything I want to say to all sides…even if I am saying it to those of the childless persuasion.

Dear People Without Kids:

It’s okay to not have children. Really, it is.

For those of you unable to have children for whatever reason, you do have my sympathy and I completely understand if you’ve attained pet-parent status. It’s wonderful that you’ve opened your home and your life to a critter or three, because critters need love, too.  I was a pet parent until recently as well, and I loved my little furbaby as much as I love my human babies. I miss her so much it hurts, even all these months later.

To those who don’t want children, I applaud you for knowing what you want and making it reality. It takes guts to go against society’s expectations and do your own thing. If we’re perfectly honest, I’m a little jealous of you. I envy your freedom. I miss the days when I could go where I wanted when I wanted and stay out all night. I miss being able to watch what I want on television. I miss not dreaming the Doc McStuffins theme song. I used to be able to do the things you do.

Sure, I have to schedule alone time with my husband and arrange for care of my children just to go to work or take a nap. My days consist of runny noses and sticky fingers instead of hors d’oeuvres and martini glasses; finger paints and sandboxes instead of shopping days and coffee shops, and trips to the playground instead of the bar. I know those things don’t appeal to you, and that’s perfectly okay. I used to be like you, rolling my eyes at the people who would tell me how wonderful motherhood was. Even my own mother used to tell me, “It’s different when they’re yours.”

But now that I’m here, they’re right. It is different. And it’s not all bad. I have the three most beautiful children in the world. I might be biased, but it’s true. I also have unconditional love, hugs and kisses, giggles, snuggles, and the privilege of seeing the world through innocent eyes. For me, those things make giving up my freedom worthwhile.

I’m not saying you have to drop what you’re doing and jump on my bandwagon. Quite the opposite, really. I’m saying there are advantages to both sides, and no matter which side of the argument we end up on, it’s the right side. We can live together in harmony. It doesn’t have to be a battle for superiority.

I do have one request though: please be patient with my girls and me. They’re not always going to be quiet, and they aren’t always going to be clean. They’re going to throw down in public and they’re going to get on your nerves. But I’m doing the best I can, really. I’m still pretty new at this and don’t have all the answers. I don’t need condescending comments vaguely directed at me for daring to have a child who makes noise. Contrary to what you may think, they are people. They can hear you. And they do have feelings. That behavior doesn’t help the cause of the childless, and I’m likely going to rip you a new one for being a d-bag to my kids. I really don’t want to do that, because I know you aren’t always so mean. You’re probably just having a bad day and I’m frazzled and overly sensitive. It’s a toxic combination.

So let’s just agree to disagree on what the best course truly is.

Don’t pity me for having children, and I won’t express sympathy over your lack of children. I’m proud of you for going your own way, and I’d appreciate the occasional pat on the back from you for raising children who aren’t serial killers (yet. The jury may still be out on one of them). Just know it takes all kinds to make this crazy world go ’round.