I was in the car with my dearest husband yesterday, going to Home Depot. The children are spending a few days with their merciful grandparents, and we had silence to fill. I started a conversation about another couple we know, and how I felt they were “out of touch with reality”. My words said “out of touch with reality” but my heart meant “they seem to always get what they want and I don’t – their life must be a fairy tale”. Because dearest husband knows me so well, he knew exactly what my heart meant and took the opportunity to help me improve myself.
“I think everybody knows by now that your life turned out differently that you thought it would”, he said. “It seems to be all you talk about in group settings.”
Well stab me with a butter knife and coat me in fire ants, why don’t ya.
The truth stings. He’s totally right. That really is all I talk about in group settings. And he’s totally right again- everyone who meets me, even for two seconds, learns this fact. My personal introduction is something like, “Hi, I’m Laura. I thought I was going to be awesome, but it turns out I’m just average. Nice to meet you”. Check this very blog’s archives. Pretty much everything I have ever written has been the same core message:
I thought I would be ____. Turns out I am ____. Here’s how I am navigating though _____.
So in addition to being average, it turns out I am also repetitive. Great.
So I took a moment of introspection to determine why this is.
Am I bitter about my life? No. Honestly no.
Do I have some kind of baggage I am trying to work through? Probably, but I don’t think that is why this particular issue is happening.
Turns out, it’s because I literally
Well, that is not totally true. I have things to say, but only a few of them are appropriate for all female babble. Of those few, none of them are appropriate for co-ed adult conversation- the kind of “group setting” the hubs is referring to.
Because motherhood is not a job that is conducive to dinner party conversation. In some ways, you can compare it to a soldier on the battlefield. Our days are both full of all kinds of earth-shattering things, but nothing your neighbor and her husband want to chat about over heavy hors d’oeuvres in the fellowship hall.
On Culinary Achievements:
“Well, hello there Bob and Nancy. These jalapeno poppers are something else, no? The cheesy green color reminds me of a couple of diapers I changed this morning. Yep, the kids had creamed spinach last night and things got a little intense, if ya know what I mean…”
“Shelia, you outdid yourself on these corn nuggets. I bet I have a few of these growing underneath the seats of my van! Last time I cleaned it out two years ago, I found a sippy cup of milk under the seat that had an exact replica of Mount Rushmore growing in mold on the side. It really made me proud to be an American…”
On Current Events
“No, I missed the presidential debate. But I did spend 20 minutes debating whether or not I could go another day without showering. I finally tired myself out and fell asleep before I could debate anymore. I’m on day 7. I call it the ‘shower sequestration’…”
On Pop Culture
“Definitely! Our family is always t’werk. My husband goes t’werk every day. Sometimes he goes t’werk even on the weekends. After the kids go to sleep is when I start t’werk. Wait, what? Twerk? Is that a thing??”
“No, I haven’t seen that movie. Or any movie, since like ever. Wait, we did go to a matinee a few years ago, but I fell asleep about 5 minutes in. Does that count?”
On the Human Experience
“Yes, Mr. Wilson, children are a blessing from the Lord. Yes, I should definitely teach them to be best friends. I think they are getting the hang of it- the other day I came upon Eloise and Milam playing together in some dog puke. It was very touching…”
My conversational repertoire reads like the label from a can of Lysol.
Topics I can discuss intelligently (Lysol disinfects the following):
You can see now why this is such a challenge. If I am expected to carry on an adult, co-ed conversation, there are two topics in that list that are acceptable. I can either choose graphic design, which calls for gripping conversation about fonts and kerning (yawn), or how I thought I was going to be something that I turned out not to be (pathetic). It seems that at this stage of my life, I am doomed in the art of dinner party chatter.
But let me take a minute to be thankful for that.
Because although I am not going to dazzle you with my stunning colloquy, I am still being transformed into a better person. I may not know pop culture, but I do know how to put a band-aid on the end of a finger just right so that it stays put. I have no clue about politics, but I know what cold remedies work, and just the right way to snuggle a feverish baby to heal their bodies. I haven’t seen a movie in like, forever, but all day every day I get to watch two tiny humans unfold into the precious people they were meant to be. This season of mothering wee ones, going to school, working (sometimes twerking) to survive, all of this is not designed to be polite conversation. This is designed to be the-roll-up-your-sleeves-and-do-hard-things silently era. It is not simply entertaining, it is sanctifying. No fairy tales here- it’s real and hard and best. Motherhood always has been.
So and So I am going to work on having more to say in co-ed conversation. Maybe I can expand my repertoire to include gun control laws, or Jon Stewart quotes. Maybe I should take showers more often, so I can talk about my favorite shampoos. Maybe I should read IMDB so I can discuss movies that I haven’t had time to watch. Maybe. But if you see me across the fellowship hall with a mouthful of jalapeno poppers and I don’t say a word, just know it is for a good reason. I have nothing else to say, and that is a good thing.