by Kristina Gavran
I miss talking adult stuff. I miss deep, concentrated, long conversations about literature, politics, or even men. I cannot say for sure that is „adult stuff“, but it is definitely different from talking about teething, milestones (is your baby turning? Is your baby saying da-da-ma-ma?) or asking what you put into puree.
I’ve met so many mums and got to know quite a lot about their life – I know their baby’s sleep routine, how much they are eating or their digestion problems, and yet I have no idea what profession those mums have. What is their favorite band? Where did they used to go dancing? On a business networking meeting you would start a conversation with „And what do you do?“ In a club you might start with „What music do you listen to?“ In a stay and play group you start with „How old is your kid?“ We don’t talk about ourselves anymore, we constantly talk about our kids.
On the other hand, having a baby is like having a dog – it is your ticket to meet so many new people in the parks and just start a conversation because you have something in common. Pram, baby, dog…they are all signs that you share similar topics. It is much harder to find out about someones hobbies or music style. Although it is nice to share problems like teething and colic with complete strangers, get some sympathy or a bit of advice, I miss good old fashioned conversations about weather and rain. Or just not talking to strangers at all.
You become a mum, but nobody tells you that all of a sudden you have to sit in a circle and sing nursery rhymes, making some weird movements with your body (The Wheels on the bus go round and round) and smile to all the other babies and mums. My first stay and play group felt like everybody around me was on drugs; mums who are weirdly happy, and a group leader speaking in high voice: That is beeeeaautiful! Let’s sing again!
I started avoiding children’s centers after a parenting workshop in which the workshop leader gave us papers with drawings of faces with emotions – sad, angry, tired, upset. She said „Circle the face that shows how you feel“ I felt like screaming. Thank you very much, I am an adult, I know how to express how I feel, I don’t need drawings for that. Just because I have a child doesn’t mean you have to treat me as a child.
Recently I met my friend Ann who is not a mum, and doesn’t even have an interest in babies. We were walking in a park and talking while my baby was sleeping in his pram and it was so good to talk normally again. But then we met another friend of mine who has a baby as well. I exchanged a couple of sentences with her „How cute is your baby! Wow, what a nice dress you have (baby has a dress, not mum). Yes you do, yes you do! Nice dress!“ and I just noticed Ann rolling her eyes. Later on Ann told me „You mums behave completely different when you are alone, or when you are in a group.“ I remembered the previous scene and yes, I caught myself speaking in high voice, making weird faces and repeating words. It’s a little like two teenagers meeting together and all of a sudden changing their normal speech patterns.
So, maybe all the other mums, same as I do, also complain about talking baby stuff all the time. But once they are in the mother circle they just play along. I should protest. Of course I should protest. But I just keep mum.