My friend Lisa, with whom we spent Labor Day weekend, hadn’t seen me since my baby shower last October. She is 35 years old and as yet, unattached. We’d spoken a few times in the last 10 months and emailed a couple.
She told me I talk too much about River.
“I guess in our last phone call you talked about some other things,” she said. “This weekend it’s been better because I’m spending more time with you. But when I called you when he was a month or two old, there must be some hormonal change because you were really different. River was all you could talk about.”
She told me that some of her co-workers talk about nothing but their kids or their home repairs and she finds it very boring. She also feels sorry for them that they don’t have more in their lives to discuss.
This was a little depressing to hear because I didn’t want to become the type of woman who can only talk about her kids. My friend Evelina, mother to an almost-five year old and pregnant with her second, vowed that she wouldn’t bore people with talk about her child. Apparently she’d been bored with others talking her ear off. She stuck to it and rarely mentioned her son to me unless I asked. Only now do I realize how difficult that much have been.
I explained to Lisa that especially when a woman is breastfeeding, there isn’t much in her life in the month or two after childbirth than being a mother and trying to take basic care of herself. I also explained that a lot of people who work full-time probably don’t have time for a lot more than eating dinner, relaxing a little, taking care of their kids and maintaining their homes.
I know that some women grow apart from their childless, single friends once they have children because they no longer have the same priorities. I still value my childless friends and have maintained my friendships with them. But I also understand now that there is something about motherhood that draws women together. It is like membership in a certain club – an understanding that another woman, regardless of age, nationality or upbringing, has been through the same long, difficult and life-changing experience as you – an experience so full of pain and joy that it’s unlike any other.
When I was pregnant, I suddenly found it easier to talk to one of my friends who is now a stay-at-home mother. She took such an interest in and concern for my experience. She was very helpful in sharing her advice and wisdom. I also found that both during pregnancy (when it was more annoying) and now (when it’s more welcome) people seem compelled to share their stories, first their pregnancy stories, now whatever information they want to share about whatever baby is remotely connected to their life. Seeing another go through pregnancy or motherhood brings back the experiences to those who have been through it. I now feel this joy for my friends that are currently expecting, especially for the first time. More than ever, I want to help them out in whatever way I can.
When I told Mark what Lisa said about my talking too much about River, he responded, “Yes, you talk about him a lot, but so do I. I think that’s normal.” I thought back to the previous night, when we were all eating dinner together. Mark kept pointing out River’s face to Lisa as River chewed on lemons and limes. I thought it was funny and watched, but Lisa seemed to be more interested in her menu.
I didn’t expect parenting to be as interesting and as joyful as it has been so far, so I do take an interest in learning, in talking to other people, in comparing experiences. However, one reason I’d really like to get back into the workforce is I want to focus on something other than parenthood in-depth, to be current on one particular issue and be able to discuss it with other knowledgeable people, parents or not.
Since, as I move through the early stages of parenting, I do think a lot about motherhood, I’ll continue to have an interest in this subject. I hope that this blog will provide me with an outlet to process my thoughts and hopefully to enter into discussions with people thinking about similar issues. In the meantime, I need to continue developing myself in other ways, as I’ve been trying to do in the past months, and to expand the repertoire of conversation topics I have available to subjects beyond my adorable River.