When asked how I am, my immediate response is the standard “I’m good”. This is followed up 99 per cent of the time by something related to my children.
This may include phrases such as “I’ve been busy with the kids”, “so-and-so did the cutest thing earlier”, “the kids are driving me crazy”, or “I wish the kids would sleep more”.
Up until recently I worked full-time, but work chat is kind of boring isn’t it? And I found even when I was working five days a week the children still dominated all of my thoughts.
I don’t get out much, apart from the odd trip to the park, we haven’t had any holidays in a while because money is tight and I pass out in bed in an exhausted stupor before I’m able to watch much interesting on telly.
My kids are my life. That might be a bit sad but it’s true! When you ask me how I am and what I’ve been up to it dominates my response. So should I be concerned about that?
I’m in two minds. On the one hand I’m still an adult. I have interests, I could talk about launching a blog for hours on end, I bloody love a good meal out when I get the chance and I’m always meeting colourful characters through my job.
So surely I should be able to speak about something else? And yet everything comes back to the kids in the end.
I don’t apologise for that. They and my husband are the most important things in the world to me. I’m proud of them and if you’re going to take interest in me and my life – if you’re going to be my friend – then surely it’s only right you take an interest in my role as a mother?
Love me, love my kids!
For these reasons I believe I should be allowed to blab on about my kids as much as I please, within reason I suppose. I don’t want to lose all my friends after all. Even mama pals need to chat about something other than wiping bums and breastfeeding every now and then.
But I have come to realise that there are times when us mamas should just shut the fuck up when talking about our kids, being pregnant, wanting more babies and sleepless nights.
Imagine for me now that you haven’t had children. This could be because you couldn’t, you haven’t yet met the right person or some other heartbreaking reason. Your children do not exist, but you long for them more than anything else in the world.
Now imagine frequently being among people with children.
People who glow with pride when they speak about the kids.
People who describe the magical moment they held their baby for the first time.
People who stroke their pregnant belly while holding their toddler as they talk about how worried they are about coping with two kids.
It’s akin to eating a 10-course slap-up meal in front of someone who has just wandered through the desert for six months surviving on water, bugs and sand.
When parents meet non-parents, there is not only a clash of lifestyles – you were up until 3am boozing, I was up until 3am breastfeeding – but a clash of the haves and the have-nots.
There you are dangling the dream life they wish they could live, taking the journey they cannot take.
And worst of all, us parents have the audacity to complain to the non-parents (the ones who want kids, of course) about how bloody hard being a mum is.
Think about it for a second. What if a Lottery winner complained to you about how hard it is knowing what stocks and shares to invest in or how stressed they are about whether the new pool will be built in time for summer.
It would make you roll your eyes and wish they would shut the fuck up, right?
I had no issues conceiving my kids. Mine is not a sad or difficult journey to parenthood.
It’s a boring tale of lady decides she wants baby, lady gets hubby on board with the idea, lady and hubby try for baby, lady and hubby learn they are having baby. It was that simple.
So then how can I possibly understand what it’s like to have gone through IVF? How can I appreciate the heartache of losing a baby?
How can I comprehend the fear at not having yet met the right person?
How can I relate to the worry of thinking this may actually never happen for me?
How can I understand how loud that ticking biological clock can be?
And yet though I know all of this, I still find myself slipping and letting my life as a mum dominate much of my chat.
It’s all my life is these days. All roads lead to Rome, if Rome were soft play.
You can’t switch off being a mama, it’s wired into our brains permanently. We are forever changed.
So can parents and non-parents converse without the underlying envy, heartache and ill-feeling?
I guess it depends on the friendship, and how deep the pain runs.
But to the parents:
Be sensitive to how lucky you are. You don’t have to cherish every minute, being a parent is hard. But try to imagine how you may feel without your children.
Don’t be ashamed of speaking about your kids. It’s a big part of your life! Just try not to make it all you ever talk about.
To the non-parents:
We do not go out to rub your nose in our lives. We have changed and that can be weird, upsetting and sad. There’s still a bit of the old us left in there though.
Our lives are not perfect. Being a parent is hard and lonely work. We need our friends, please if you can, find a way to be around us.
Let’s find a way to be around each other, a way to support each other through whatever difficult shit we are going through.
Above all things, please let’s not stop talking, no matter what the subject.