So much great stuff here (including some thoughtful comments). Sampled wisdom:
When a parent sighs and says to a non-parent It must be so nice to be able to sleep in or I wish I could afford that thing you just got or You have no idea what my body looks like under this, [added for clarity: these are types of statements that cast judgement based on assumptions about the listener's life without children rather than simply being about the parent], it is beyond insulting. There are so many assumptions and prejudices wrapped up in such statements that unravelling them to explain just how much they have diminished a non-parent's life experience would take at least a book or two.Go, read it yourself. : )
My usual response is to smile and say with faked humour "Well, that's what you think", because it is their choice to cut off connection with me, and I am too tired after 15 years of this to have to initiate several of these conversations a week with everyone from grocery clerks to close friends. It is their choice to tell me that I cannot fathom who they are, that my life experience cannot connect with theirs, that those who have similar outcomes due to their own major life shifts are somehow intrinsically blocked from that connection due to not having offspring. The assumption that my life is so easy that it would deny me the ability to understand another's experience tells me that the parent in question does not value my history or my experience. I am not valued or valuable.
Believe me, I sometimes wish all these assumptions about non-parents were true, because then I would be a wealthy, physically gorgeous, globe-trotting, sexual dynamo who had a clean house, great clothes, and was surrounded by all my old friends. This isn't how life goes for most of us, though, once we graduate from that magically unburdened post-high school youth we all imagine we came from. Take me, for example. I have weathered cancer, my husband's broken back, the loss of loved ones, addiction, depression and anxiety, and a few other hurdles. We all grow up, we change, and we experience things that are hard.
We may not be parents, but we are also not unburdened youth anymore, the ones we imagine as frivolous and selfish and disconnected, and I wish that the parents who make these assumptions about us would stop behaving as though we still are.