To all the stay-at-home mommies and daddies who talk about more than your children and diapers and crafts when we full-time or part-time parents get together- I salute you. I love being around you. You are a breath of fresh air in a world of (admittedly darling) childish mundanities. Parenting is an all-consuming job at times, but it is so important to remember that we are more than mothers or fathers. Some of us are doctors, nurses, teachers, musicians, engineers, and a host of other interesting things. Some of us have fascinating skills, some have travelled, some have lived and learned the most interesting things- why should we restrict our conversation to our kids or to boring small talk when we get together? Particularly if we already know one another, and we are past the point of learning about each other's life stories, etc. We are no less capable now of serious intellectual engagement than we were before we had kids. We have not forgotten literature, theology, science, politics, or the other varied things we love. I personally find it excruciating to be with intelligent, interesting men and women who talk of nothing but babies, teething, school schedules, recipes, pregnancy, and backpack sales. Not that we can't share those things, but I think that gatherings of mommies and/or daddies, in playgroups, at those interminable children's birthday parties, or otherwise, can be a valuable resource for our collective sanity and fight against mental stagnation. A half hour spent discussing theology or current events or great books energizes me and gives me strength to deal with the days with little interaction with people over the age of six in ways that a half hour of comparing teething stories never could. I seriously doubt I'm the only one. :) I don't think it makes us bad parents to remember, cherish, and keep alive who we are outside of parenting- it makes us better. And we should remember that these busy years won't last forever- we'll have decades after our littles grow and leave. Parenting may seem like the end-all of our lives now, but it's relatively short-lived and it's only a part of who we are.
This is why I sometimes find mommy playgroups tedious- we end up a group of intelligent women sitting around talking about poop and school and mundanities. Not important things like "how much socialization does a kid need" or "should we vote CSCOPE out of TX curricula" but rather subjects like "what is your kid doing in school? Is your kid teething? I wish kids would pick up their toys." I find myself sitting there, thinking- "seriously, ladies. Why not talk about something besides mothering once in a while? I happen to know you are well read, fascinating, have travelled, know lots of fun theology, philosophy, etc- why can't we talk about some of that? I could learn a lot from some of you, and we could have us some FUN. Forget about kiddie crafts and enriching activities- put the babies in the floor with some toys, crack open the wine and the coffee, and let's get to it!"
It's also why I find some groups, of mommies or otherwise, so delightful. Lively discussion of interesting topics/stories of the experiences of bright, interesting, or unusual people (which I am very lucky to be able to say that most of my friends are!) are to repetitive small talk what great cuisine is to McDonalds, at least in my world.
So, next time you're at playgroup, or at a party, watching the kiddies and gearing up for another polite exchange of your kids' basic developmental info- just stop, and start talking about Syria or Cloning or the Trinity or whatever you're passionate about. If I'm there, I'll join you, and I'll be eternally grateful.
(of course, it could be that I just don't like small talk. I think it's a function of my personality in general, and in no way would I attempt to make everyone else exactly like me. I do wish, though, that mommies always remembered that they are more than that, and that their individual passions still matter, very, very much.)