You can't understand what it feels like to be a parent until you have a child.
I hate it when people say that.
Some years back, before I had children, I took my young nephew to a cry baby session at the cinema. Amid the chaos of that session -- the lights never go down and little people squawk under your seat -- I was struck by a certain air of certainty or confidence among the mothers (there were no fathers there that day). I don’t quite know how to describe what that ‘air’ was. At the time I think I saw it as smugness (of similar vein to Bridget Jones’ discomfort when dining with all those the smug-married folk). But in hindsight I think I was picking up on that sense of being needed that comes into your life with a new baby. This gorgeous little bundle creates attention wherever it goes and you are the centre of that bundle’s world – you created it and it is you that this baby needs to survive. As a new parent, you suddenly have a very legitimate place in the world. The world loves babies and their makers, and for a while you get to bask in that love. Smugness is not the right word (too patronising). But there is a little sense of righteousness that hovers over some new parents.
I think people who don’t have children CAN actually understand what it is like to be a parent. We have all suffered lack of sleep, we all understand the pleasure and pain of caring for someone else. We all know love and insecurity. So I still kinda hate it when people assume you can’t actually know what it feels like to be parent until you are one.