We Can Hang Out, But Not If You Talk About Your Kids

shutterstock_142926820__1394822073_142.196.167.223If we’re catching up, we don’t have to talk about my kids for too long. And I mean this in the nicest of ways, but I don’t give a shit about the minute details of your domestic life, either.

Of course I care if you are having some out-of-the ordinary problems or you have something you really need to get off your chest. But I’m a work-at-home mom who also writes about parenting. The last thing I want to talk about on my downtime is kids; mine or anyone else’s.

I thought about this today because I saw this photo essay in Vulture of Girls star Jemima Kirke being her fabulous, young, Brooklyn-mom self.  Along with her photos, are some random quotes:

I don’t have, like, a mommy group, God forbid, where we talk about our kids. That’s a little bit of my nightmare.

But I do have friends in the neighborhood who have kids who are just good women. We talk about other things.

My editor sent them to me with a note that said, “Jemima Kirke mommy shames parents who talk about their kids.” My immediate response was, She’s damn right! Her words speak to me, they really do. Because I write about parenting all day – and when I get out with the kids it’s usually some place like Gymboree or the park and I can’t just walk up to these other moms and say something like, “Hey. Did you see the previews for next week’s Real Housewives of Atlanta? Kenya and Apollo are scandalous!”

Not that talking about the Real Housewives of Atlanta is the most engaging conversation in the world or anything, but it’s not about my kids or anyone else’s and that’s refreshing. Sometimes, when I finally get a friend on the phone I haven’t spoken to in a really long time and I’m forced to do the expected catch-up-with-what’s-going-on-with-the-kids-thing – I get really impatient and say something like, “Everything is the same. He’s just not peeing in his diaper as much. Now about you…”

I think when I finally work outside the home again, or if I ever make some friends in this new city, I won’t feel as pressed to soak up every ounce of non-kid conversation I can get. But right now, the kiddie small talk is killing me. Since I’m always with my children, even when I’m outside the home, it’s kind of hard to avoid. The point is, don’t always assume that a mom wants to talk about her kids. And not wanting to talk about your kids for five minutes doesn’t make you a bad mom – it just makes you a person who has interests that don’t include the beautiful things that came from your womb.

You can reach this post's author, Maria Guido, on twitter.
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    • TwentiSomething Mom

      First, I’d like to say, I notice the stock photo.

      Second, as much as I want mom friends where we can do stuff with our kids like playdates and stuff, I do want to talk about kid stuff which is why I come here. I know my friends don’t want to talk about sleep training, frustrations with potty training and stuff like that but sometimes you do want to talk about it. Not ALL the time, but every once in a while, I’d like to be able to openly talk about some stuff without seeming like a boring mom.

      • Rachel Sea

        Mommyish uses stock photos most of the time.

      • guest

        I believe this was in reference to a previous article about stock photos being racially biased.

    • Emily Wight

      I don’t talk about mine unless he’s done something relevant to the conversation or funny enough to note, but I also only talk about Spouse under the same criteria. It’s not that I’m ashamed or hiding anything or whatever, I just like to sometimes talk about work or a good thing I ate and in general I’m my favourite topic so I just lead with that.

      • Alfreda Wells Morrissey

        I’ve always been curious how people are able to talk about work. Maybe you have a more interesting job than I do. I am a computer programmer. People ask, “How is work going?” I say, “Fine” Maybe I could elaborate with, “Well we have code review all week.” I get, blank stares. My friends work in the government. Maybe if they have a terrible co-worker, they will bitch but what else is there to talk about when you push papers all day?

      • Emily Wight

        I like to talk about projects I’m working on, and what other people are doing, and how they’re progressing up whatever corporate ladder they’re on. I work in communications and find I’m not doing the same thing day after day, so maybe there’s more to discuss?

    • pixie

      I feel kind of similar about my thesis. I’ll gladly answer a few questions about the topic and sources I’m using, but when I’ve been working on my thesis proposal pretty well all day every day from 6:30 am until late, I’d much rather talk about ANYTHING else.

      • Taxes Make Kittens Cry

        Pix, what’s your thesis on?

      • pixie

        *sigh* :P
        Overall, it’s popular music and youth identity. Getting into specifics, I’m looking at how certain popular music artists portray themes of the disenfranchised youth along with the supernatural in their lyrics, music, and music videos. I use Bowie as Ziggy Stardust as a benchmark and draw connections from him to the later artists Marilyn Manson (1994 album Antichrist Superstar), Evanescence (2003 album Fallen), Green Day (2004 album American Idiot), and Fall Out Boy (2013 album Save Rock and Roll).

        And that’s all I’m going to discuss about it right now!

      • Taxes Make Kittens Cry
    • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

      My favourite mom friends are the ones I can talk to about being a mother AND other things. You gotta talk shop sometimes.

    • Elisianna

      Basically all I talk about with mom friends is our children (and spouses). In fact, that is the only reason they are my friends at all. Otherwise it is so hard for me to find stuff in common with them. I don’t care about their clothes, jobs, TV shows they watch… I do enjoy hearing about their children though. I actually care that they aren’t speaking enough at 20 months or that they fell down the stairs. I care about their sleep schedules, when they started using a straw, details about heir daily naps… In short, I am an absolutely perfect friend for those people who love talking your ear off about their children. I genuinely enjoy it.
      I had basically no friends before I had a baby… And now I have a few. :P

      • meteor_echo

        “I had basically no friends before I had a baby…”

        I can see why.

      • Elisianna

        Well, I would never make a nasty comment like that to a stranger. Maybe that is what is required to have more friends?

        I just have generally found it hard to find a way in which I identify with people, and when i do, closeness makes me extremely uncomfortable. I no longer need to open myself up to talk to friends, I can talk about my daughter and their children.

      • meteor_echo

        People who never find a way to even keep up the small talk outright puzzle me. Don’t you see movies, read books, have hobbies? Why can’t you find people who do the same thing and who you have something in common with, rather than use another person for living vicariously through them?
        Meh.

      • Elisianna

        I can keep up small talk, but i don’t set up relationships where that is all that I am expecting to experience.

        I don’t live vicariously through anyone. I have no idea where you got that from.

        I have hobbies and I read but the typical woman my age finds the stuff I like boring. I know they exist, but I have not personally met a woman my age who would walk down the street reading Carl Sagan with Rachmaninov playing on her iPad. Several older single men have thought that I was the bees knees.

      • meteor_echo

        I think that clinging to your child’s daily occurrences as the only conversation topic IS living vicariously through them.
        Also, who says that one can’t connect with people of other age groups? I’m an artist, and through my hobby I found my best buddy (who is 8 years younger than me) and my boyfriend (who is 9 years older). There are more people who read Sagan than you can count, especially on the internet – hobby forums and message boards don’t exist for nothing.

      • Elisianna

        I am not obsessed with my daughter’s daily occurrences, but I like talking to people about their families and children. If they want to talk to me about specific things that happened I will be interested.
        My husband is 14 years older than me, so I am okay with different age groups, but he wouldn’t be comfortable with me being close friends with the only people I have met in real life who share several of my interests.
        I know Sagan is popular, and I always used to find many people online who shared my tastes and hobbies, but I don’t go online as much as I did in my teens and early 20s, so I don’t have that anymore.

      • Alfreda Wells Morrissey

        It is not like we are talking about filling their sippy cups, or making them dinner. I might compare summer camps to get our kids in the same ones, or give recommendations. I might analyze the behavioral difficulties my children are having and throw around ideas for solving them. I might talk about how worried I am that my kid might get kicked out of school because she is causing scenes at school. Then in grade one I say how relieved I am that she is all of a sudden having no issues and getting 100%. I might discuss cute things my kids did or said. I might give other parents tips on how I dealt with issues they are having.

        We are not discussing minutia of the daily occurrences of our kids any more than you would discuss daily occurrences of your own life. As they become more independent, our lives will naturally diverge and our life experiences will also change, so topics of conversation will not be so concentrated. It is a natural occurrence, especially if you enjoyed kids and child psychology before you had kids.

        When I babysat a lot I would tell stories about things those kids did, because kids are fun and cute. When I had cats, I would talk about them, but people’s eyes would glaze over.

      • Alfreda Wells Morrissey

        It is not actually living vicariously through them, you are just living WITH them. I talk about my life, and that includes kids. Isn’t that what most people talk about?

        When I was in university we talked about school, parties, boyfriends, TV. I didn’t really have any hobbies or have time to read books that were not text books.

        Between university and kids we talked about sports that we did, trips that we took occasionally, crazy things that we did in university. Now I do my sports with my kids, travel with my kids, and really parenting is the biggest most scary adventure I am involved with right now. Your life, just includes kids, so talking about your life, means talking about kids. I know my friends long enough now that I have already told them my life story pre-kids, now my life is happening with kids.

        I don’t go to bars anymore, it’s not that I am not able to, I just don’t like to. I might go have a drink with a girlfriend because I prefer that. I don’t watch TV anymore, because I prefer to read. Most people prefer TV. I do see movies, but there is not much to talk about. Did you see that movie? Yes. Did you like it? Yes. Maybe a comment or two about the movie, convo finished.

      • Alfreda Wells Morrissey

        I wish I could be your friend. I love that stuff too.

        I did have friends in University, but I moved half way across the country right out of graduating. We tried to make friends before we had kids. We took a drawing class, joined the ski patrol, I took a French class. Nothing stuck. I didn’t actually meet anybody in my neighborhood until I started spending all my afternoons at the park. Then voila, I had a tone of female friends.

        I do have a job, but who wants to hear about computer programming, unless you are a programmer. I will listen about other people’s jobs but unless you understand what they are talking about, most of the time I can’t keep the characters straight. If something major is going, like you are worried for your job safety then I will be interested because I am interested in your well being but otherwise, I don’t really care how your work projects are going.

        I like photography but most people’s eye glaze over when I talk about aperture and shutter speed. I read, and have found some people who like to talk about books, but often they don’t read the same books I do. I have weaned myself off TV but I do have a coworker who likes the one show I like so we do talk about that, but it is starting to suck so there goes TV. We talk politics, but I live on the border of Quebec and Ontario, there are a lot of separatists in my highly Quebecois company, I am a nationalist so that is a dangerous topic.

        Now mostly we talk about family stuff: in laws, kids, parents, what we did on the weekend. Even with my friend’s from university who live on the other side of the country, when we talk now, we talk about our kids. I LOVE it! I have always loved kids, and I am very interested in child psychology, or psychology in general so we just analyze everybody. It is fun. When the kids leave home, conversation will change just like it naturally changed to be kid heavy when everybody had kids. I think it is natural for conversation to evolve as you grow. You would fit in here just fine.

        I could see how people who don’t have kids may be annoyed when the conversation shifts to something they can’t relate to, especially if all their friends started to have kids and they chose not to. I have read (on here) that there are mothers who don’t like talking about their kids, but personally I have never met any. It seems to be a favorite topic of conversation around here.

      • Elisianna

        I definitely get the “eyes glazed over” look when I talk about some stuff I find interesting. I speak five languages but people really aren’t interested in how much you love grammar.

        I am also interested in child psychology and psychology, like you, and so obviously talking about children and people is interesting to me.

      • Alfreda Wells Morrissey

        I love talking about grammar too!!! I only know a second language though (French) and although I know the grammar I have difficulty comprehending it aurally.

    • Buffy

      Somehow I don’t understand the point of this article. My friends and I talk about everything…work, life, politics, fun stuff, family issues and of course about our children. And I do care what they tell me about them because I love my friends. And I am so glad that sometimes they give me some very good advices concerning my kid… or just talking about some things makes me feel better ( when something is wrong) or just good ( recalling wonderful events/stories).
      Perhaps my friends are just not boring, whatever they talk about, and that’s the difference? ;-)
      Or that they are really, really close friends ( we know each other since we were twelve)– I wouldn’t talk to just acquaintance about all this.
      I guess, if they care about something enough to tell me, I care enough to listen and I am glad they share their thoughts and feelings with me… And lucky me, they feel the same way about me.

      Excuse me while I start singing “That’s what friends are fooooooooooooor.”
      ;-)))

    • val97

      Most of my friends don’t have kids. I don’t know what that means – I didn’t actively seek out child free friends, but it just kind of worked out that way. We hardly ever talk about my kids, which is perfect.