January 14, 2008

The Worst Thing About Being A Mom

Of all the things that irk me as a mother, my canned dialog with other mothers is the most vexing. All my clever banter and profound conversation topics go out the window when I meet a mother with a baby the same age as mine. The irresistible urge to compare takes over and I hear myself saying, "How many teeth does he have?"

What do I care? Why can't I ask her about good books she's reading? Yes. I'll do that. But instead I follow up with, "Is he crawling yet?"

Gah! I did it again. Why not ask her something about herself? "What are you feeding him?"

Okay, so I guess that's kind of about herself, but really still just baby comparing. Surely I can come up with something interesting. "How long is he sleeping at night?"

Oh, that's just great, Hollywood. A real titillating topic. You spend 15 hours alone with your kids then when you finally get the chance to have a real conversation with an adult that's all you can come up with? You're a gem. "Are you still nursing?"

Okay, that's just rude to ask and I seriously don't want to know. Let's regroup and try to get off the baby topic for once. "Are you in any playgroups?"

Pathetic. A thinly veiled disguise for real conversation. Why don't you just ask the question you really want an answer to: Is my baby better than yours? But instead, I come up with, "where is he on the growth charts?"

Ha! My baby measures an inch off the top of the height chart, proving my dominance as a mommy once and for all. I've yet to meet a faster growing baby.

With my superiority as a parent scientifically concluded, I'm left with the little matter of ending the conversation before my wits return and I'm able to actually make a friend. I give my baby's diaper a meaningful pat and scrunch my nose. "Better go get this diaper changed," I say and scurry off.

I swear, I have no control over this conversation. I keeps happening day after day after day. I hate myself when I hear the lines coming out of my mouth but some instinctual auto-pilot takes over and I'm at its mercy. I can handle poopy diapers, I can handle caked on spit-up, but if I hear myself asking these questions one more time I swear I'm going to put my little beansprout up for adoption.

32 comments:

Teah said...

I'm impressed you can still have ANY conversation! When I got married (and it got worse when I had my baby), I lost ALL ability to look at people when I'm talking to them. I stare at the baby, stare at the wall, look at the clock...anywhere but the person I'm talking to. You'd THINK a cmu major could do better than that! Pathetic. However, I think I'd like to meet you on the street - we'd sound like dopelgeingers! (Umm...german word for creepy, non-biological twins...but I don't know how to spell it. ;-) The dictionary thinks I mean "lady fingers." If I meant lady fingers...I need to go back to first grade!)

Few ox said...

I compare my baby also. You are right, it's something you can't help but do. I try to hold my tongue though when I think I need to give advice to other mothers. I probably don't know any more than they do!

Jessica G. said...

Oh,I am quite the conversationalist around other moms! Wanna know all about our last bout with the flu? How about my removed gallbladder and all the joys that entails? Perhaps we could have a detailed discussion on what nursing has done to our beloved racks? Oh, the sagginess!

And I wonder why the moms drop their kids off and then leave as fast as possible...

Lindsay said...

Been there, done that, totally kick myself every single time.

emmy said...

If mommy dominance is determined by baby size I am SUPER MOMMY! Both of my kids are off the chart height wise. I know this entry was about not comparing but I couldn't help it!!!

Burgh Baby's Mom said...

Aaah, see I don't have that conversation, but it's only because I already KNOW my baby is better. And if you disagree, I will pop you in the mough. :-)

Jessica said...

I'm so terrible with this! I feel like no one else really does it, and I am making an effort not to since it is driving me insane!

Marie said...

I hate that too. In fact that's why I just can't read "mommy blogs," I just can't stand it anymore.

It's also gotten really old when I'm out in public and a new mom sees me with my 4.5 yo and 2 yo and thinks "ooh a veteran! Maybe she can give me my advice!"

This happens all the time, and my answer, no matter what advice they're asking for, is always "trust yourself to know what's best for your child."

kathleenmcdade said...

Oh, Lord, I hate when I do that, too. There has GOT to be someting else to talk about -- but it just keeps happening.

cworth said...

i'm not sure what's worse, diaper talk or really looooooong uncomfortable silences.

The Ed said...

I can't offer too much hope. Today at the museum we had a lecturer who told us if we weren't fortifying our brains with art history, we might be among those hapless, schedule-less folks who regularly strut their health woes in what he termed "organ recitals." I liked that term, since I don't like hearing about people's operations and health problems. That should send a warning voice back into my head when I am tempted to indulge in a little witty repartee about my Heart Problem of '87, or some similar fascinating topic.

I like Ram's T shirt, "I'm canceling my subscription to your issues." I wonder if he's still wearing it after all the teasing we've subjected him to...

Heather said...

This is the reason my kids didn't have friends until they were in school - I couldn't bring myself to do the playgroup mommy talk.

JLJ said...

If I weren't saying those silly comments, I wouldn't be saying anything at all to that stranger. In fact, if that stranger didn't have her kids with her I'd probably never even make eye contact.

Heffalump said...

Oh but I personally find boogers, puke, poop and other bodily things to make fascinating conversation... doesn't every Mom?

Her Royal Highness said...

You DO realize that if you HAD asked her what book she's been reading she would've responded with "Goodnight Moon" or "Mother Goose's favorite rhymes".
It's every mother's nemesis - bad conversation skills. It hinder's us from "deep" friendships, instead we form our friendships on the only thing we have in common, our children. Is that bad? I don't know. I just found out a few years ago who my best friend's favorite band is.

Doug Taylor said...

Us guys do that too, and while I can't successfully avoid it altogether, I can at least manage to lie about it. "Took his first step? You must be excited. Yeah, my one year old just started basic algebra, but it's pretty tough for the little guy..."

Colleen said...

Ha ha, I hear ya. I've never been very good with small talk though, so at least the little dude offers me a handy topic of conversation!

He's in the 97th percentile for height, by the way. Shocking, I know.

Kerri said...

Ugh! Even reading this post makes me cringe inside. I keep hearing myself make that same boring dialog when finally I have the chance to talk to an adult! I always go home thinking that I know more about my friends' kids than my friends themselves.

But I have to say that when forced to talk to a mother I don't really care to speak with, this conversation comes in handy!

amanda said...

and when there are no kids around, but it's all moms, the conversation inevitably turns to labor and delivery. why are we like that? maybe because women like connections, and motherhood and labor offer instant connections.

Nancy said...

I know that this sounds awful, but I could really do with a few more of these conversations, or any conversation in fact. When we moved here a year ago, I managed to be seven months pregnant and meet no one. I craved a play group, but there weren't any in my area. We've just moved to another part of the same city and there are lots of kids here. I'm going to start a group. It can be a bad-conversationalist's sanctuary. Do something interesting? Keep it to yourself. Read any good books lately? I don't want to hear about it. If your conversation doesn't involve poop, surgery or baby-comparing, stay away!

Hollywood said...

That's so sad, Nancy! I'm sorry you weren't able to run into any canned mom conversations. Did you try the park? I find I always get a few labor/delivery stories there and get to practice my Spanish with all the nannies.

I'm so glad I'm not the only mom who falls into this rut. It makes me crazy but it's some secret mom code that we all do. I need to work on getting past the initial connection. I'm the chattiest gal around but my chat is just BORING.

Sue said...

I'm totally the opposite. I hate small talk and am impossibly bad at it, so I'm always grateful for the generic, canned stuff I know I can fall back on.

Mrs. M said...

O my word! what book am I reading? This reminds me about the Hollywood book club, where I have not been for a VERY LONG TIME! Yikes.

tAnYeTTa said...

This is very interesting! At least now I know why I have moms so proud of themselves when they point out that their kid is taller and fatter than my kid. One mom was shocked that my son was only 3. "He's so tiny. He's 3? My son is only 2 and towers over your son." All I could come up with...well, my son sure is cute! ;)

Andrea said...

It's not the inane conversations that I hate (boogers, poop, barf, etc.) but the fact that if you're sitting anywhere with a group of moms with their kids, that you can't actually LOOK at the person you're talking too because you're spending the whole conversation watching your kid and making sure they don't kill themselves while you're talking. I don't mind talking about kids so much with other moms -- at least I'm having a conversation on an adult level!

theworkingmom said...

I guess that's because it's a common ground. I still talk about other stuff with other people, but conversations with other mommies invariably turn to our kids.

tracie said...

I was thinking just yesterday how I'm totally starting to do this and my child isn't even out of the womb yet! I justify a lot of it by the fact that I will be a new mother and like to hear other peoples' experiences, but I'm starting to bore even myself!

Michael M. said...

Seems you hit a nerve! Funny and true. I wrote about my infant son's 99th percentile pooter and heard privately from a few people who seemed offended that I disclosed a super spy secret truth about parent competiton or something. Heck, we already compete at everything else...

Thanks for your honest and insightful post...glad I wandered by!

Anonymous said...

so there's all these tall babies-where's the chub? mine is off the charts on weight! 24.2 pounds at 9-month check-up and has all the cute little rolls to prove it! :-) thought i'd participate

Alice Wills Gold said...

I totally get this entry. Mothers are the worst at comparing, aren't we. I am glad to say, that I have gained a little more control as I've gained years and kids, but I still think I am guilty.

wynne said...

Hey! This is too funny, Hollywood. There was a huge playgroup me & the boy would go to the last place we lived, and one day, I decided to bad all the kid-talk and see if I could find out who these women really were.

Y'know--try to figure out what their degrees in college were in--what music they liked--favorite books--movies--hobbies.

They all looked at me like I was a freak. And that's when it hit me: I had NOTHING in common with the majority of these women except for the fact that we were MOMS. I went home very depressed, and stuck to the canned conversation after that.

But--yeeps!--sometimes, the way we talk to each other, you'd think that we were nothing BUT moms. And, honestly, *living* the mom-stuff is boring enough--do we really have to talk about it, ad nauseam? And the comparison stuff drives me crazy (mostly because most parents' offspring just can't COMPETE with my wee genetic marvel, and I always feel guilty afterward).

Bastiat said...

I'm really happy that I'm not the only one who does this or feels this way. My problem now is that I'm living in an area where a lot of people didn't go to college, and not only do I not have much in common with them on a non-kid level, they seem uncomfortable around me if they know I graduated from college. New experience for me.