It's hard to survive motherhood without some good mom friends. They understand exactly what you're going through, because they're going through it at the same time. One of the great things about other moms is that you can talk about all the minutiae of parenthood that your other friends may not understand. However, just because you can talk about these things with them, doesn't mean that moms always enjoy talking about them. In fact, it's possible there might be some topics no mom actually likes discussing with other moms.
I think I need to make a distinction. When moms are in the same camp about a topic — as in, when they agree about a particular parenting method — I believe that makes for a positive conversation. So let's say I was talking to a mom friend about how I was super frustrated that my bed-sharing toddler was kicking me in my face (again) and keeping me awake. And let's say that this mom friend also does the bed-sharing thing with her kid, and said kid is also is a horrible sleeper who roughs her up at night. The two of us tend to have enjoyable talks about this topic of sleep because we share a common experience (bed-sharing and bad sleepers) and a common attitude about it (not kicking the kid out of our beds and, instead, dealing with it). However, if I were to talk to a mom friend and she were to offer me her opinions on how it is time to get my kid out of my bed and how she read an article about how bad bed-sharing is, guess what? The topic of sleep becomes a taboo topic for the two of us, and sleep is no longer something we enjoy talking about together.
So, while moms continue to talk about topics — like their picky eaters, their late-to-train diaper-wearers, their bad sleepers, and the like — few of these conversations actually are enjoyable because there is often "That Mom" that chimes in with her helpful advice about how we could all be living a better life if we just did things "her way." Or, worse, you get stuck in a convo with a mom who can't stop telling you about how great a mom she is by subtly dropping hints about her child's wonderfully early bed time and his appetite for only non-processed foods, and you want to crawl into a hole. I know I've been in both of the situations described above, as well as many other where it has been quite clear that no, I am not having any fun here.
How Boring It Is At Home Because All Their Baby Does Is Sleep
If you are new to the parenting game, and wondering why all the new moms you befriended have suddenly iced you out, it may be because you opened your mouth about the one thing a mom shall never mention: how much her baby sleeps. No one wants to hear it.
Honestly, both of my kids are way past the newborn stage and I still get hella jealous when I hear about a super "boring" newborn who sleeps all day. If, however, you want to talk about your colicky newborn who never stops crying and just stares into your eyes for hours as you sing soothing songs until you go mad, well, pull up a chair. I am all ears.
The Wonderful Healthy Snacks They've Discovered Their Kids Go Crazy For That You Know Your Kids Still Wouldn't Eat If It Was Covered In Chocolate
I've sat around enough tables of moms to recognize the moment when one mom has made the fatal decision to start proselytizing about the "Super Duper Amazingly Healthy Snack" that her kids are totally going wild for that we all should try. If I look to my left and my right I will usually see fake smiles on everyone's faces as they nod along but, inside, they are just going over their shopping lists, or singing their favorite songs, or whatever.
Who cares what your kid thinks is the bees knees? It almost never has any bearing on what my kid is going to like (and vice versa). My kids love seaweed snacks. It is about the only green thing they eat besides their own snot. I would never think to propose seaweed snacks to anyone else as a way to get a picky eater to eat his greens. When other moms talk about new food discoveries for their kids, it is almost never to be helpful but simply to brag.
The Status Of Their Child's Potty Training Situation
Potty training is one of those topics that can really get moms going because there are so many ideas and approaches about how to do it. Here's my approach about it with regards to my 2-and-a-half-year-old toddler: I'm, um, not? I've made a few gung-ho attempts to get him on the potty, and we have had several successes, but I've been really bad about consistency. With my first son, he just kind of started using the potty at some point before he was 3, and I am hoping that one day the same will happen for my second. So you can imagine how overjoyed I am when other moms tell me about the method they tried that worked like a charm with their kids, because you know I didn't ask.
This has nothing to do with my competitive nature. It is simply that I find it almost as boring as talking about anyone's bowel movements (of any age) and does not bring any joy or interest to my life. I imagine other moms feel the same.
Milestones. Any Milestones.
Truly, it is so, so great that your kid started to walk at nine months. Super. She is probably headed to an Ivy League college and will run a top-tier investment bank some day. But you know who you should rush over to tell this little nugget of joy to? A grandma. Yours, mine, anyone's grandma will do. Other moms, however, don't really care about your child's milestones. All they do is awaken the primal competitive nature that many moms have and, at the very least, they make us all question where our own children stand in terms of their development.
I remember having to do nightly calculations every time someone from my mom group had a kid who had achieved a certain milestone that my son hadn't achieved, to reassure myself that it was totally normal that my son wasn't there yet (since he was a good deal younger than most of the babies there). I was blessed to have a mom group that was so not like that, anyway. The only way I knew about said milestones was that I was hanging out with the babies often enough to observe them myself.
Books They Are Currently Reading About Parenting And Very Strongly Recommend
Book? What is book?
Girlfriend, I don't remember how to read so good. I don't sleep anymore, and my brain is fried from trying to manage my job, my children's schedules, and to remember when it is time to order more cleaning supplies. I don't want your parenting book recommendation because it is just going to make me anxious and you just want me to read it so I can agree with you and help justify your parenting choices on child-led weaning. I just want to be left alone to watch episodes of Broad City.
How Much Screen Time They Allow Their Child
Unless I'm having a conversation with another person who, like me, is pretty sure she has broken her children with the amount of iPad time she has slowly permitted her children to have over time and wants to cry tears of shame with me, I'm not interested in talking about it.
When another mom is telling me about "That One Time" she allowed her kids to watch her iPhone during an extended layover in Europe with that "I'm so bad" hitch in her voice, it makes me feel like I am doing parenting wrong. I don't like that feeling and I imagine other moms don't enjoy it either. So I guess the key is, know your audience. Like enjoys like, especially when it comes to parenting decisions. If you've identified a mom who seems like she plays it fast and loose with screen time, you may want to hold back on the humble brags about how you only let your kids watch television when they're at the dentist and there's those movies playing on the ceiling so you "don't have much of a choice."
Their Child's After-School Activities
I'm so guilty of this one, basically because I vacillate between worrying if I'm not doing enough for my kindergartener or if I'm signing him up for too much. So I ask around, and want to know what other people are doing in terms of extracurriculars so I can get an idea of what the "average" kid is doing schedule-wise.
Then, about five minutes into the conversation, I begin to regret my informal survey because each answer has the capacity to once again make me doubt my own parenting decisions. Am I challenging my son enough or am I overstimulating him? Should he be enrolled in some kind of team sport even though he expresses zero interest in them? Where did I miss the memo on soccer being a thing? Oh wait, here's a parent who takes her kid once a week to do cultural things in and around the city. They go to museums and shows together. Crap. I should do that. When would I do that? Do I want to do that?
Their Child's Food Allergies
Half the time, when someone brings up an allergy, further down into the conversation it is revealed that it isn't a real allergy per se, it is just something that they "think" their kid might not react so well to because they had a tummy ache one time when they were a baby.
Honestly, this makes me angry because there are kids out there with real, life-threatening food allergies. Don't try to feign food allergies when you're just being weird about me serving non-organic cupcakes to the kids at a party. Unless your kid has a real food allergy, and not just the kind where you are morally opposed to a certain type of food, this is not a topic I want to go into with you.
Of course, once in a while, I like to indulge in some good, old-fashioned complaining about my husband to get something off my chest with a good friend. But with casual mom friends at the playground or with the large audience of a mom group meetup, I'm not about to go deep.
Some moms assume that once they all convene the default setting is to go into "partner bashing mode." Like, here we are, all together with these kids, let's talk about the people who aren't here taking care of the babies and how much they suck. Not everyone is down to dump on their partners and it can make people uncomfortable.
Bedtimes And Wakeup Times
The topic of sleep tends to come up in a ton of mom conversations but, the truth is, we all hate talking about it. It is exhausting and frustrating to talk about how little sleep we are getting thanks to our progeny or to even listen to someone else's bed time routine with their child. There's no magic pill and no secret thing that works like a charm.
I don't know why we torture ourselves by talking this topic to death, but moms can't help it. We experience little joy in sharing our sleep struggles and even when we try to ask for help from our friends, we very rarely implement someone else's "strategy." I don't know why we do this thing we hate doing. Call it a "Mommy Mystery."