Happy Wednesday! After a week off for the 4th of July, I’m glad to be back with another guest poster today for my Around the Bonfire series. Have you enjoyed the posts as much as I have?
Today I’m happy to host Leigh Ann from Genie in a Blog. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Leigh Ann in real life and she’s a warm and funny person, just as she is on her blog, not to mention on Facebook, where her status updates as a sometimes-harried mom of 3 make me laugh at least once a day. Speaking of motherhood, Leigh Ann is here to talk about taking our adult conversation up a notch – it’s called Cut The Kids Talk, and it’s great food for thought. Enjoy!
I can’t tell you how happy I am to be here around this cozy campfire with all of you. With three young kids it’s such a rare occasion that I do get to sit around with just my girlfriends.
Don’t get me wrong — we get together. But you see, usually these encounters usually involve trying to hold a conversation while my 4 year old clings to my shirt sleeve and sucks her thumb, my 2 year old cries because I handed her a cracker the wrong way, and my other 4 year old breaks something valuable that was in her reach because obviously my friend’s kids are better trained to know that not everything is here for you to touch.
Basically, there’s always something keeping me from finishing a thought — or a sentence for that matter.
When we’re around our kids so much, being without them is like being in a foreign country. A glorious one, but a foreign one at that. What am I supposed to say in this strange environment where no one is asking me for snacks every five minutes, or where the most stimulating conversations I have involve whether or not Apple Jack is a pegasus or a unicorn (for those of you keeping tabs, she’s neither. Apple Jack is an earth pony. BOOM.).
So when I finally do find myself alone with my girlfriends, I’m so excited and shellshocked that I’m wearing real clothes and makeup and heels that I don’t quite know what to talk about.
But I’ll tell you what we don’t talk about: our kids.
Okay, let’s be fair. We do talk about our kids. Kids are a great conversation starter, and our close knit group of friends is akin to family, so we really do care about what’s going on with them. How is dance class going? Do you think you’ll potty train this summer? Oh look, he still likes to stick his hand down his diaper! How cute.
Have you ever caught yourself in a conversation that revolved around nothing but kids? If you’re not trying to play the game of one upmanship with “Mine does that too” or “Oh, well her thing is to…” then it’s hella boring. Never mind the intense detail about eating habits, sleeping habits, or God forbid pooping habits. I find myself resorting to a never ending string of uh huh’s and oh wow’s and all I can think about is will this conversation ever end?
But with my closest friends, we never seem to let those topics control the conversation. They are merely a means to an end, asides to the real conversations and stories that go on throughout the night.
So what do we talk about?
We talk about work, asking about one’s new job, wondering how the commute is for a friend who just moved, and asking when summer break is over for another friend who works at an elementary school.
We talk about money. We’re not afraid to mention if we can’t afford something, or if we completely overspent on that last vacation.
We of course talk about our spouses, about the maddening things they do that drive us nuts and the loving things they do that make us melt.
And of course when we talk about marriage, we may very well end up talking about sex. Few topics are off limits with your best girlfriends.
The best part is, we talk about life. About the funny things that happen from day to day, whether they involve our children or not. We reminisce about that trip to Mexico in 2007, not because it was before we all started having families, but because it was such a great time. And it’s still so fun to relive the memories of sitting in the pool all day long, drinking and laughing, and strangely no one ever had to get out to go use the bathroom?
We’re around our kids all the time. They’ve taken over our lives, as much as we don’t want to admit it, and let’s face it — they’re an easy, go to conversation starter. I do it too.
It’s a slippery slope to walk when we find ourselves out with actual adults, especially when those adults are other parents. It becomes too easy to fill the air with descriptive tales of Little Billy’s latest adorablisms or all too much detail about Susie’s newfound potty success. We commiserate with sleeping issues. We compare the terror that is age 3, if only to find out that our kids, in fact, are perfectly normal and not cruel monsters sent from another planet to torture us into relinquishing control of the goldfish crackers. We sling competing miseries, because surely I’ve gotten less sleep than you in the past 4 years, 3 months, and 17 days, but who’s counting?
I have friends that were there before kids and friends that I’ve made because of our kids. But either way, I love them for the people they are, not for the fact that they are suffering through the same trials I am or always have the answers to my parenting questions. Although those are mighty nice perks. But when we make an effort to get together, I want to talk to my friends. Deep down inside of those bodies that have born children, nursed them, and rocked them for hours on end resides the original person with whom I really connected. I want to talk to her, not Jimmy’s mom.
Now I’ll stop here and warn you that should you and I ever strike up a conversation and it goes the kid route? Have no fear. I like to talk about my kids, and I like to talk about yours too. But if you notice that all of our conversations end up that way? Then yes, I may very well be mentally rolling my eyes.
Let’s not forget that we were women once. Women without children. Women with careers, with hobbies, with interests. We read books, did crosswords, talked on the phone without someone interrupting us with “Here, Mommy, I have a booger” (but thank you very much for bringing it to me and not wiping it on the wall, the couch, or your tongue).
We were friends. Wives. Girlfriends. Confidants. Shoulders to cry on during a hard time or to lean on during a little too much of a good time.
We’re more than just moms. We’re still interesting. We still have compelling stories to tell, stories that may mention our kids, but don’t necessarily revolve around them.
So the next time you gather with your girlfriends, or even your couple friends, coed friends, however you fly, try your best to reach out beyond the all too easy kid centric conversations. Find out what’s going on in your friends lives. Ask questions. Share a hilarious tale or discuss an article you read.
Because we may be parents, but we’re still individuals worth knowing for ourselves.