Lately I’ve been feeling like I have to walk on egg shells when I am trying to make small talk with my fellow mom friends. I feel nervous if I mention anything about pregnancy, childbirth, or sometimes even raising children in general. I’ll be the first to admit that I am an over-thinker. I hate putting my foot in my mouth, and I never want to offend anyone so often times I quietly reflect on the situation at hand before I speak up. Although I am careful about what I say, sometimes being an over thinker has it’s drawbacks.
For example, a couple of weeks back I was volunteering in a nursery at my children’s school when I came across a lady who was flat out rocking being a mom. She was casual and chill and clearly had this parenting gig down. (She changed her baby using only one hand. ONE HAND for crying out loud.) We made small talk and chit chatted about our day and I casually said, “How many kiddos do you have?”
She said, “I have ten.”
And that is when I froze. I immediately went into over-thinker mode, and I couldn’t think of one single thing to say. I wanted to say, “Oh how fun! You have your hands full!” But I knew that was an evil offender to all moms ever. I then wanted to say, “Awesome! I bet they keep you busy!” but that was clearly an obvious no. I’ve read so many articles about how that comment is basically the same as a throat punch.
So instead I sat there being an over-thinker and I said NOTHING. Not one word came from my mouth. I just nodded, and I’m sure I looked like I had judgey eyes, when in reality I was admiring her mad mama skills.
Reflecting on that day got me thinking that somewhere along the way we have lost the art of small talk. I think a big part of that comes from falling into the trap of being overly politically correct and being too quick to be offended by people’s innocent questions and comments. I’ve read so many articles about what not to say that even talking to a mom friend and making small talk seems to get lost in translation.
It seems like almost every day I’m bombarded with article after article about things not to say to a new mom, ways I’m inadvertently ruining my mom friendships, or things not to say to a pregnant women. While I do think it is important to have some sensitivity on certain topics, I likewise think it’s important to be careful to avoid making normal conversation topics taboo. Instead of focusing on things “not to say”, I think it’s more important to look at the heart of the mother who is reaching out to us. Most moms are searching for people to reach out to and connect with, someone to share this parenting journey with. The majority of moms making casual small talk aren’t trying to be insensitive jerks.
I may be in the minority here, but I’m over being offended by moms who are tying to get to know me and who are interested in building genuine friendships. Of course there are times when strangers say offensive things and mean them rudely. (I’m looking at YOU old man at the store who saw me wrangling my three kids and asked me if I understood where children come from.)
What I’m talking about is not being offended by innocent questions from a mom who is simply trying to connect. I know when a fellow mother sees me at the zoo and asks me how far apart my children are and then says, “Wow, all two years apart? They are close in age!” she is not rudely implying that I am irresponsible for procreating. She is simply trying to get to know me. The End.
I’m not suggesting we throw sensitivity out the window. Obviously it is important to know that all ladies come from different backgrounds and have had different struggles throughout motherhood. All I am suggesting is that we look at the heart of the mother who is reaching out to us before jumping to the conclusion that she is trying to be rude or offensive. Their questions or comments might be them simply extending an olive branch of friendship.