the mommy trap

I remember about a half dozen years ago sitting on a couch with a bunch of women for a much needed girls night.
We never made it to coffee or drinks or even a movie.
We just sat on the couch and talked about breast feeding and babies and how many we were going to have and when we were going to get started.
We were all married and just about to embark on that journey. One girl was expecting any second. Another had a baby at home and the rest of us were thinking about it. These were new conversations to us. And so we droned on. And on.

And I didn’t make it through the night. The first 15 or so minutes intrigued me. But an hour and a half later of talking solely about boobs and mucus and charting, I made up some excuse and I got off the couch and went home to bed.

Don’t get me wrong. I can tell my labor stories until I am blue in the face. I can talk about the virtue of breast milk and I am the go-to girl when it comes to questions about fevers and bugs and rashes. I can talk about my babies plenty. And sometimes I do.
But sometimes I like to talk about other things.
Like books or movies or coffee or TV I’m not watching or even the weather.

Recently I was at a BBQ with a few women that I didn’t know all that well. When women don’t know what to talk about we resort to what is easiest.
Our kids.
Because we can talk about them without having to work very hard or give too much of ourselves away.
And we like to brag and show off pictures and tell funny stories.
And trust me, sometimes I am the loudest.

But not everyone at this gathering had kids.
And being pregnant with lots of friends who were going through infertility made me at least a little bit more aware of my conversations about all things baby.
So I kept trying to shift the conversation back to other things.
Like vacations and work and movies and good food.
Once I even resorted to the weather.
Because one of the girl's (one without kids) eyes were completely glazing over every time we mentioned potty training or preschool.
And she would occasionally try to jump in and comment and laughed politely. But mostly we were leaving her out.
And it seemed like every conversation we started somehow ended back on our kids.

Now, don't get me wrong. There is a time and a place for hour long tirades about potty training and bite prevention (still need help on both of those fronts), but not every conversation should center around my kids or my mothering.
Coffee with a friend or two who also have small children. Yes.
Dinner out with a larger more mixed group. Not so much.
And I do hope that when my kids grow up, I will still have something to say.

And sometimes I fall into this trap with work.
More one-way exclusive conversations.
If I am out with mostly teachers, 90% of the conversation is school related. And those other people are kind of left out of the loop.
Which is a shame.
Because I am more than my job.
I am even more than my kids.
And so are the other women around me.
Even if it is a little more work to find some common ground.
Because everyone has a story.
Even me.
And it doesn’t always involve laundry or grading papers.
Maybe if I get quiet enough to listen to someone else’s.
I could remember some of the rest of mine.


Annie said...

As someone that isn't married, doesn't have kids, doesn't teach...and yet loves my friends who are and do I really appreciate the post. A group of five of my girlfriends all go away for at least one if not two weekends a year. We talk about agriculture, growing up in the country, politics, religion and all the good and bad stuff life has to offer. I hope that for you! :)

Rudri said...

I think this is important. We are more than just our kids. The reason why I want a girl's night is to not dedicate the whole conversation to what my kid is doing. I thought I was in the minority, but I am glad there is someone else that shares my viewpoint.

Thanks for this post.

Amanda said...

My husband usually dreads going out with my teacher friends. Not because he doesn't enjoy their company, but b/c the conversation inevitably turns to the students, the administration, and the same crazy stories that were funny the first time, but are now on their fifth or sixth iteration. He feels left out, and I can't blame him. No matter how hard I try to change the conversation it always comes back to school. It's nice to know that I'm not the only one who notices...

Margie said...

This reminds me of an article I read about a mom of adopted children who found herself unable to participate in conversations about Birth. It's amazing how much we unknowingly limit our conversation to the exclusion of others, isn't it?