Thursday, February 12, 2009

Baby talk is cheap

I had dinner with a few girlfriends the other night, some of which I haven't seen for a long time. There was a lot of catching up to do, what's been going on in our lives, how high our hopes are for Obama, are going skiing this year, and so on. And, for a few around the table, inevitably, the baby-talk.

Fact: I am not big on the baby-talk.
I like relaying a clever comment that my daughter made after school, or stating the fact that I will be brain-dead during our conversation because I didn't get any sleep - again, but apart form that, let's keep it real.
There is one obvious reason why this is, and here goes: Talking about your your own children is OK. Talking about other people's children is B_O_R_I_N_G. And if you talk about your own, the polite thing to do is to reciprocate too, and that's where I draw the line.
I mean, come on, we all think that our own little spawns are God's gift to the rest of the world. We think they will grow up a Super Model with a PhD in quantum physics and be a professional, classically trained piano player, that is how it is - but no one else can see what you can see, and if you go on about it too much, everyone is going to think that you are incredibly self-centered - because you are!

It is also not interesting to talk about strollers, play-groups, organic crackers and the latest sing-a-long craze. We are grown-ups and we are intelligent. Why oh, why do we need to let ourselves down like this?
The contra-argument would be that if you are a proud mother (and there is no reason why you shouldn't be), you want to share the joys of your life with the rest of the world. Sure. I can see that. But let's be realistic here. If you are not particularly in to dogs, you wouldn't be that keen on listening to a dog-owner and how she has just potty-trained her Alsatian. If you couldn't see the point of soccer, you'd hate to have to go through every single minute of the Spurs-Arsenal game (yeah, we all know that Spurs lost, yeah). So why on earth do we just take for granted that our children is by default a suitable subject for a conversation?

My time is simply to valuable to be wasting it on things I have no interest in. There was a time when I was young, free-spirited and had all the time in the world to sit around and talk nonsense for hours on end without getting any wiser (and guess what, that was in my life before children!), but these days, I want to spend my time doing things that matter, and, to be brutally honest, other people's children don't matter that much to me.
Also, listening to a group of women squel for hours over nap-times, baby-spoons, zippy-cups and organic snacks gives me migrane since it's so mind-numbingly hard to even try to look even a little excited about it.

And here's the thing: women struggle to claim and define their space in this fast-changing society and they often feel that they get pushed out, brushed to one side, walked all over, as soon as they have babies. Suddenly, their place is not where the fun and action happen anymore, their place is the home, whether they chose it or not. At least, that's what society would like women to think. You had the babies, so now you should have everything you ever asked for, right?

Well, if women want to be taken seriously even after they decided to enter the scary world of no-return, we have to cut down on the baby-talk, literally. If you start acting like you went in to hospital to have a baby, but came out like you had a lobotomy you're going to get written off as a reliable human being pretty sharpish.

Sure, before I get my head kicked in with someones diaper-bag I'd like to point out that I do talk, and I take a deep interest in talking about the children of my close friends, should they feel the need to let of some steam or otherwise. This is not about me being a terrible friend, cold- hearted and emotionally fucked. What I don't buy into is that if you are a mother you should, by default, have to OD on baby and let it take over your life. My children are important to me, but I accept that talking about them might not be that interesting to everyone else, and all other baby-related stuff, like Gymborée classes, organic cheese-sticks and the necessities of two nap-times a day, well, that really shouldn't be interesting to anyone.

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