Two Things I’ll Stop Saying to Other Moms in 2014
When it comes to playground chit-chat, I vow to never utter these words to other moms again
Dear self, please stop. Just stop.
In the past, I’ve told plenty of anecdotes that have fallen flat–stuff about potty training or how great Montessori is, you know, all the things that people find boring unless they are also going through it. Or sometimes I’ll overshare, thinking it might be funny to vent about my husband’s inability to recycle cans or match socks in the laundry. But the tone isn’t right. My own irritation shows through too much to be funny. I usually give a little story a couple of tries, and if the response is silence–or, worse, embarrassed silence–I delete it from my repertoire. But for some reason, there are two things that I just can’t stop saying.
Next year, I say, they’re out.
1. “Well, I’m an ‘Older Mom’ so…”
Our first three kids were born in Rome and with the first one we took a class about natural childbirth where we met lots of other English-speaking couples. Somehow, in the midst of discussions about epidurals versus breathing techniques the issue of age would come up, and every single time I’d start to feel a little uncomfortable. I was already 35 for my first pregnancy and before we moved to Italy my doctor in New York assured me that this was an older age to be considering childbirth, recommending extra testing to ensure that I’d still have a healthy baby. With the phrase “geriatric pregnancy” sunk firmly into my increasingly mushy brain, I’d always chime in a self-deprecating line, “Well, I’m an older mom so…” That wasn’t really so bad. Except that without fail, the other pregnant woman I was talking to would be older than me. Insert puffy foot into mouth.
2. “Is this your only one?”
Now that we live in the US and have three little rascals running around the playground on most days, the troop can be a bit of spectacle. Especially now that my mid-section is making it obvious that we’ll have a fourth baby this spring. People often ask if all of them are mine, and when I say they are, the obvious line almost always comes back. “Wow, you must be busy.” I am, and even though I’ve heard this so many times that it’s not really amusing, it’s hardly an offensive thing to say.
Sometimes, I’ll try to joke back, asking if this is the other mom’s only child, and if so, her house must be quieter than mine so maybe could I come over for a little while? Not exactly a Seinfeld routine but it seems funny enough to me. Except, typically, the mom of the one child doesn’t laugh. Instead she gets sad and says she wishes she had more but her husband “is done.” Or, she launches into a long story about costly IVF and difficult years of infertility, saying that she feels lucky to have the one kid but desperately wishes there were more. Foot, you know where to go.
Reflecting for even a few seconds, it’s no surprise that two of my most awkward parent-to-parent moments stem from my own insecurities. Am I too old? Can I really be a good mom to all these kids? I certainly hadn’t meant to insult anyone before, but here’s what I’ll take into the fresh New Year. If I feel weird about a particular topic, chances are the other mom might, too.
So, in 2014, let’s just keep the playground chit-chat to less sticky topics, like religion and money.
YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN