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Why Mothers Talk to Strangers

Yesterday, after a very long weekend and an even longer sleepless night, I was searching for things to do to keep Greyson entertained for the day. After our morning play date and our afternoon painting session, I was losing steam. We decided to head out to our local bookstore, one of my favorite places, that has an awesome children’s section. And they have train tables which keep Grey busy for like 30 minutes. When we got there, another mother was sitting by the train tables, sipping a coffee while her son played. We introduced ourselves and started chatting. We talked about so many things – toddler tantrums, milestones, work, travel, day care. For a few minutes, I felt like a normal person – not just a mother who was struggling to stay awake and entertain her child. Eventually, Greyson’s attention span began to dwindle and we said our goodbyes. I felt refreshed and happier. It’s amazing – the connection between two women when you have just one simple thing in common – motherhood.

Before having a child, I’m pretty sure that I never talked to strangers. I wasn’t one of those people that felt  the need to strike up a conversation with the cashier in the checkout line at the grocery store. I wasn’t unfriendly, I just wasn’t interested. (Wait, is that unfriendly?) Anyways, I entered stores, went about my business, and went home. It’s that easy, too, when you aren’t lugging a child around with you. Wow – I miss that. However, when I became noticeably pregnant, all of a sudden I realized that I was no longer invisible to people. Other pregnant women smiled at me like we were old friends. Mothers with small children looked at me with pity like I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Everyone wants to ask you when you are due and whether you are having a boy or a girl. It only gets worse as you get bigger. I remember sometime close to my due date, I went out to dinner with my husband and two of our friends. My stomach was so unnaturally large at that point – I felt like an exhibit at a science museum. I think if you looked closely enough, you could see my 9lb2oz child’s elbows and knees booting me in the belly. It’s a miracle and all, whatever, but it’s gross. As I was walking through the bar of the restaurant to find the restroom (which is so cliché, pregnant lady, looking for the bathroom), it was like the parting of the Red Sea. The crowd just moved out of my way. Every man in the bar offered me their seat. I mean, it was nice and everything, but it was embarrassing. I was looking forward to returning to my invisible, un-pregnant, only-one-person self.

As it turns out, when you have a newborn, strangers still want to talk to you. Newborns are not that uncommon….I didn’t understand why everyone felt the need to obsess over him. Women wanted to know his age and his name. Grandmothers were showing me pictures of their grandbabies. Pregnant ladies asked me how it was going and where I delivered the baby. At some point, I realized that rather than trying to avoid this attention, I should just embrace it. Hell, before long, the baby would be a screaming toddler and people would be trying to avoid sitting next to us in restaurants. And so, I gave in. Every now and again, I not only answered strangers’ questions, I even engaged in a little conversation.

Throughout my maternity leave and after deciding to stay at home with Greyson, I realized that there is a lack of conversation and engaging interaction when you spend the majority of your time with a very tiny baby that generally communicates via cooing and screaming. All of a sudden, I was becoming one of those people that sought out other women in the library or in the parking lot to have a few minutes of mindful conversation with another adult.

Now, I am slowly realizing that finding a place to connect with other moms is one of the healthiest and most enjoyable things that I can do for myself. It’s amazing that you can have a conversation about more important things in the first 30 minutes of meeting another mother than you might be able to talk about to your closest friend who doesn’t have children about. That doesn’t mean that I don’t absolutely love my friends who aren’t parents, but it’s different. Sometimes, you just need someone who understands without having to try to explain yourself.

In the past, I would have done almost anything to avoid random conversations with strangers. However, in becoming a mother, I have learned that chatting with strangers might be the only conversation you have for the next several hours that doesn’t involve talking about eating your veggies, asking who has the stinky diaper, and threatening time outs.

So to all of you expecting mothers out there who are confused why random women are bothering you, just wait. When your baby is about 6-8 weeks old and you haven’t spoken to an adult besides your husband in four days, meet us at the grocery store or the library or the book shop. We will be ready and willing to introduce ourselves, buy you a coffee, and catch up like the old friends you never knew you had. In the meantime, you should totally take advantage of people moving out of your way and men giving up their seats because those days are numbered, ladies.

 

 

If you can’t manage to make it out of your house to connect with other moms, join us in the Day Drinking and Diaper Changing Facebook Group for some amazing support and hilarious ranting.

 

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