I was a bit distressed last weekend when I came to the realization that I had seemingly lost the ability to have non-work related adult conversation. If I was not speaking with a fellow parent who was well versed in the art of standing diaper changes, the importance of poo color and consistency or the latest and “greatest” sleep training technique, I was at a loss for words. I would just stand there with the following possible conversation topics popping up in my mom brain:
‘So last night Hudson did the cutest…’ (Nope, that’s parent related.)
‘Hudson learned how to poo outside.’ (Nope, parent related, and gross to most.)
‘My boobs have been leaking SO much lately.’ (Possibly intriguing to some, but TMI.)
So I was stuck with, ‘Wow, this 75 degree weather is really something.’ The weather, I honestly talked about the weather, to more than one person at this ‘adult conversation’ shindig. Luckily, it began to rain for the first time in nine months at said party, so the topic of the weather was surprisingly somewhat interesting. But still, the weather? Really?
I felt lost. I used to thrive at parties, floating around from person to person, dropping a bit of “wit,” and never weather, wherever I went. What happened? My mind had been overtaken with thoughts of baby sign language, what will happen when baby first eats peanuts, and how to refill the baking soda “de-stink-ifier” in the diaper pail.
As I snuck away to the bathroom to mull over my newfound inability to engage in anything but G-rated talk, the following suggestions dropped in on me.
If in doubt ask them about themselves:
Seems like a no brainer, but I used to be so nervous of the dreaded lull in a conversation that I would consistently try to summon anecdotes from own life, to share with my fellow conversationalist, in the fear that they would stop talking, and I would have to say something interesting.
Now, I ask them about themselves and then fulfill my side of the conversation by saying….
‘Tell me more.’
‘Oh wow that’s really interesting, tell me more.’
‘I didn’t know that, tell me more.’
You get the idea. Keep them talking. People like to share. When I first began my ‘tell me more’ing it felt a bit forced, but after awhile, the information that would flow after that simple request was pretty fascinating. I actually began to learn quite a bit about people I thought I knew pretty well. It’s amazing what I learned when I cured myself of the need to babble on.
Listen (actually listen):
This piggybacks on what I just said, but were you listening? (wink wink) There’s something so powerful in the “simple” act of listening; you’re fostering encouragement, respect, and camaraderie with the person speaking. Back in the days of desperately needing to know what I was going to say after that person ceased talking, I would only listen to enough of what they were saying to devise my response; I wasn’t actively listening. I would leave conversations feeling like I had achieved a surface level connection, but didn’t have a deeper understanding of that person and what they had been trying to share. When I closed my mouth and opened my ears, a beautifully enriching world opened up; I was able to tune in to the nuances of what was being said, the emotions behind the words, and the information that was being conveyed. My ego used to always say. ‘Yeah yeah I already know what you’re saying, how should I respond?’ But now, I was able to learn all the things I used to think I already knew, and was able to use some of these gems of knowledge to spur on future adult conversation.
Avoid talking in high-pitched Goo-Goo-Gah-Gag voice:
I have honestly found myself, numerous times, since giving birth, slipping in a high pitched, ‘Ohhh how exciting,’ ‘Isn’t that just precious,’ or ‘Gooood job’ to a conversation with an adult. Luckily, none of the adult recipients of my high-pitched cooing threw me a ‘lady you’re crazy’ look, but I witnessed myself (via a home video) delivering an ‘Ohhh you look so cute!’ to a woman at my son’s birthday party, it was not cute. I’ve since been working on keeping the high-pitch on the down low, for adults and my baby, because he does give me a ‘lady you’re crazy look’ when I high-pitch talk him.
Come equipped with a few adult convo topics:
It’s hard to talk about “big kid” stuff when all you read is from the ‘Parenting’ section, all you watch is from ‘Netflix Kids,’ and all you hear is Raffi. It’s no wonder I had nothing ‘adultlike’ to discuss. I have since begun reading a book on Biocentrism (that is far above my head but gives me enough ammo to get someone other than me talking,) watched a salacious R-rated movie that most childless adults have seen, and went to a concert (that served alcohol! And didn’t have Baby Beluga on the set list!)
Mixing up my interests to include some topics that aren’t discussed in my ‘Mommy and Me’ class has balanced out my brain (at least a little bit,) and renewed my faith in my ability to read non-board books that are longer than ten pages.
Don’t be Afraid to Throw Some ‘Baby’ in the Mix:
Hi, my name is Bailey and I’m a mom. I’m not only a mom, but mommyhood is a huge part of who I am. Preventing any baby-related sentences from exiting my mouth is denying my authentic self to shine through. I’m a parent and I own that. Are you a parent? Go ahead and own it. It doesn’t have to define you, but there’s no denying that it’s a piece of you and likely a very significant piece. Childless friends aren’t as anti-baby talk as we may think; some of them may be considering signing up for a lifetime membership in the ‘with child’ club, be genuinely interested in the foreign ins and outs of raising a tiny human, or may find the story of baby’s latest blowout disgustingly fascinating, maybe.
I found that there was no need to only let my parenting flag fly while in the presence of real live adults, but I’ll certainly let it fly amongst my variety of other flags.
I’ve been attempting to put the ‘above-mentioned’ to practice, and while I still drop the occasional, ‘Isn’t it nice out,’ or ‘Wow, my baby bit my boob SO hard last night,’ I’ve been feeling more at ease with conversing with people who are able to stay out past midnight, keep breakable items in their home, and don’t have Curious George and Mickey Mouse Playhouse on their Netflix queue (or do they?)