How to Justify Anything

by Abby on June 29, 2011

I know my husband and I can’t be the only ones who do this. As soon as we had a baby, we’d look at couples who were going out on spontaneous dinner dates or jetting off on exotic vacations or even just going to the movies on a Sunday afternoon and say, “Well, sure. They don’t have KIDS.” Of course, we were just jealous.

Not that the miracle of life wasn’t wonderful and all, but gone were the days of impulsive weekend trips to crash at a friend’s beach house and stay out till all hours of the night. We WERE up at all hours of the night, but not partying. It was a rare evening when we could watch an entire DVD without being interrupted for a late-night feeding and/or diaper change.

Happy family with one childSo then we had another baby. And we would justify the carefree couples going out to concerts or wine tastings or weekends at B&B’s by telling each other, “Well, they only have 1 kid.” One kid’s a BREEZE. You have all the time in the world once s/he’s asleep or with the other parent. It’s easy to find babysitters or family members willing to take 1 kid. It’s almost like being child-free again!

Well you can guess how this goes, right? The justifications keep on coming. “Well, they have FAMILY in town. Of course they can go out any time they feel like it and belong to book clubs and baseball teams and stuff.” Or, “HER husband works from home. So she can schedule doctor’s appointments during naptime and run to the grocery store solo whenever she’s out of milk.”

It can get out of control if you’re not careful. I knew I had to reign it in when I found myself thinking a mom of a delayed walker had it easy. I gave no thought to how concerned she might be about her child’s development or about physical therapy or any of that. No, I was all, “Well, isn’t she lucky not to have to chase after her crazy toddler all day and worry about split lips and skinned knees.” Low. Real low.

I think we do this because we want to justify our lives to OURSELVES. We all want to think we’re working harder than everybody else, that we have it tougher, that no one really knows what it’s like to be in our shoes. And if there are people out there who seem to breeze through life without a care in the world? Well, then, they must have something we don’t. Like a full-time nanny or a housekeeper or a trust fund OR A REALLY EASY BABY WHO NEVER HAS TANTRUMS AND ALWAYS SLEEPS THROUGH THE NIGHT AND DOESN’T JUMP OUT OF HIS CRIB OR STROLLER OR CARSEAT ANY CHANCE HE GETS.

Whew, sorry. That slipped out. Anyway, I’m trying to work on this constant comparing and justifying, because it really doesn’t end up making me feel better. Anyone else do this, too? Got any tips?

READ O’ THE DAY: Speaking of who has it harder, I really enjoyed this funny post on stay-at-home vs. working parents.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

It's Not Like a Cat June 29, 2011 at 9:07 am

Uh-huh, and you’re able to update your blog because YOUR kids are older than mine. 😉

Seriously, I do this too and nearly spit out my coffee when I got to the part about the delayed walker. That is hilarious and so terribly honest. I do this all the time, too (well, maybe not about delayed walkers). Especially the “Well, they only have ONE kid!” thing. And all the rest–their kids are older, their husbands don’t need to sleep in every single day, she doesn’t HAVE a husband to get in the way [OK, you KNOW you need to stop comparing when you think a single mom of two has it easier, right???], and so on.


Kim June 29, 2011 at 9:18 am

Thank you so much for posting this, the honesty in it rings true with so many of us. And it isn’t something we’re particularly proud of. Reading this post was like getting a hug, like it’s okay, we’re not perfect, but we’re also trying.

My husband and I justified a lot after our second daughter was born. But then we moved and suddenly it’s like we just accepted that we’re parents and our lives can’t be like they were before, but they can be good in a different way. It is still hard on me to not justify when I hear someone complain about one night’s lack of sleep compared to the years of lack of sleep some of us go through, but then I have to keep in mind “it’s all relative to the individual person.”


Abby June 29, 2011 at 9:45 am

Thanks, guys, for making me feel like less of an awful whiner. 😉 And yes, Kim, it IS all relative.


Kathleen@so much to say June 29, 2011 at 12:10 pm

I think Kim nailed it…sometimes you just have to go, This sucks, but you know, I’m in a different “season” of my life right now…and it will pass on to something else soon enough. I also have to remind myself that we never DID any of that kind of stuff you’re talking about, even when we didn’t have kids! Classic “grass is always greener.” I struggle with it constantly.


Lou Mello June 29, 2011 at 3:02 pm

I guess it’s been so long since my daughter was young that I don’t remember whether or not we justified or compared. I do know that I am truly amazed at all that is accomplished by Mothers (and Fathers) of young children these days. There is so much pressure to give the kids the best of everything, to get them in the best school, to have them at 3rd grade level by the time the kid is four. It’s definitely harder now and I so enjoy the sharing of thoughts and feelings on these blogs as it lets everyone know that they aren’t in it alone, that everyone has the same issues and that somehow we all get through it.

Thanks for sharing, Abby, it defintely brightens the day.


Adam July 1, 2011 at 9:56 am

I justify things a lot too, but it’s normally not in a “well they only have one kid” type way. It’s more of a “well we don’t want to leave Isaac and they’re okay doing it.” Not that not wanting to leave Isaac makes me a better parent (well, maybe a little…kidding?), but that the feeling justifies never leaving the house.

My wife and I are planning to go out for our anniversary at the end of July. That will be our first date since the week before Isaac was born, and his birthday is in 2 weeks…


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