Sasha Fierce! Giving as good as she gets when greeted by a traditional Haka before a concert in NZ.
Long before we had medical confirmation that there was indeed the spawn of our loins kicking around in my belly, Adam and I had discussed the pros, cons and general thoughts about having children. We knew we wanted them, we also knew we wanted to do some living, travelling, dancing on a whim, so the pretty standard plan was set that saw us agreeing to enjoy some time together as a couple before bringing another small life into our home (we already had Molly the dog/dag – and she’s way more human than a canine should be). In essence, we knew life would change.
It’s not like we announced ‘the plan’, we just assumed it was pretty stock-standard to everyone. But we did start to get a subtle vibe of the “just you wait”s from the (previously unknown to us and clearly self-proclaimed) flag bearers of the “PEOPLE WITH CHILDREN” (PWC)camp.
There were videos on Facebook of comedians who turn to their children for schtick, painting charicatures of those folks who didn’t have children walking around this earth like a bunch of lobotomized zombies without any idea of the life of the PARENT. I’ve never heard a whole audience wail with bitter laughter before, but my word, that is some scary shit. I felt that laugh deep in my waters. Like it was directed straight at me and anyone else who didn’t have children and therefore of course must assume that a life with children in the future woud be all hair-brushing and cuddles with angels. “THEY HAVE NO IDEA” they all chorused. Isn’t it FUNNY how they view life? Just. You. Wait.
Wow. Talk about intimidating.
Now, I will point out this was not all of the people we knew with children, or indeed even a majority, but you really only need a few to get your brain rolling. One starts to question ones thoughts on anything to do with kids, and how they will change/alter/ruin your life. Why were we getting so much negativity fired at us? Why do people find humour in taking the piss out of people who aren’t parents? And this is where we get to the crux of the issue – WHY do other parents (and I’ll make a pretty confident generalisation here – it’s Mothers mainly) feel the desire to scare the shit out of first time parents?
We here at DoE have called it the Mother-Haka.
The Haka (pronounced) is a traditional ancestral war cry, dance or challenge from the Māori people of New Zealand. It’s seen popularly at the start of Rugby matches, as performed by the New Zealand team towards their opponent. There is a lot of yelling, scary face pulling, tongue polking and stamping of the feet that is intended to intimidate the opposition. They let off steam, feel pretty confident about themselves, and get to be all shouty. Thus, the Mother-Haka term was coined.
These are the people who at any opportunity will tell you their terrible birth stories, how they tore, labored forever (literally forever it seems), got every negative side effect of pregnancy, had a child with colic, had a child that NEVER slept, had a crier, a nipple-biter, a fussy eater, a hitter – basically, they had something of all of these things AND YOU WILL TOO AND SO THERE. Shouty shouty, polking tongue out etc etc.
“Oh, I cannot WAIT until your child teethes and you haven’t slept in days “. Ouch. Why? Why would you wish that upon me? So I can FEEL your bitter pain? Yes. Basically, this is exactly why they do it. They’re not happy, and they may not feel heard or supported, and they were probably on the receiving end of the Mother-Haka prior to becoming a parent which has left quite the ugly taste in their mouth. Basically, it’s not you – it’s them. And you don’t have to stay for the whole dance.
I’m not suggesting that everyone planning to have children should be walking around in some dream-like state, operating under the assumption that it wont be the world’s hardest job at times. I certainly didn’t, and I absolutely resent being patronised by the PWC who assumed I had no notion of what I was “getting myself into”. I really really do, and that’s why I’m 31, and chose a partner who is up for the sharing of parental responsibilities, so I don’t lose my absolute shizzle and start painting my face and waving my arms at pregnant ladies. And do you know what, if there ARE people who have convinced themselves that parenting will be an absolute breeze and that it wont change their acitve social lives in the slightest – well, that’s for them to find out. It really doesn’t affect anyone else.It REALLY. DOESN’T.
There is a level of support that we all need to embrace that should celebrate the choice to either have or not have children, and equip anyone stepping into parenthood with a good mix of the real challenges but the complimentary wonder. The moment you see someone starting to move into a Mother-Haka stance – give them a hug and tell them they’re doing a good job. They probably need it.