Monday, September 14, 2009

Let's talk

I've had some responses to a recent post that we need to view, so why not post them.
This is one that was sent to me by a male reader (and yes it was in all caps):
Hmmm....Definitely some strong opinions from this borderline hostile reader. If I am understanding this correctly, he is saying that men want their wives to be independent, interesting and constantly challenging themselves on an intellectual level. In his own way, he is simply reiterating what we as mothers are trying to work on. Thank you reader for affirming our desires and concerns.
A mother writes:
I started reading your blog sometime last year after our mutual dear friend told me about it. You could not have hit closer to home with your latest post. I was just thinking the other night that I have noticed a serious decline in phone calls and social invitations since having Henry. For a while I attributed it to people being polite and respectful of me being a new mom but now I'm realizing it's because I'm not as interesting as I once was.

Dear Reader,
Thanks for reading, I'd love to meet you someday when we go back down south. Until then, we'll have to correspond via blog. I don't think you've become less interesting, you've probably just had to put some of your interesting qualities on hold while raising a baby (which is beyond a full-time job). Kudos for realizing that you don't necessarily like the road your going down and wanting to do something about it. It takes some Moms twenty years to realize that after their children are in college, their alone at home and they don't know who exactly who they are apart from being a mother. I encourage you to think about what excites you and pursue it (whether it is religion, exercise, cooking, reading, staying up on politics, etc.). And be open to the fact that what once excited you before Henry may not excite you now. You may have changed. For example, I used to love reading news magazine The Economist pre-children, yet the reality is, I am so worn out by the end of the day that I can barely read beyond a fifth-grade vocabulary, so that interest is just going to have remain on hold until I have more energy (although somehow I do manage to complete an entire US Weekly in under one hour). Thanks for writing!

Another mother writes:
I am a reader of your blog and came across this entry. I have to admit it did make me chuckle to myself because it is so true. Child etiquette question #1:If we are having a play group and my friends start in on the labor stories, how do I politely redirect the conversation? What do I do if I get a blank stare when discussing my dream of ... (something interesting)?Please respond ASAP. ... mom desperate for adult conversation

Dear "Mom desperate for adult conversation,"
Thanks so much for writing. It's a relief to know that we mothers are not alone and that there are other ladies out there that feel the same way as us. And while I am certainly not the expert on child etiquette (although who can not love THE rules of Etiquette by Emily Post), I would love to walk you through this. Before redirecting a conversation in a playgroup, you first need to assess the other members of the group. Who are these ladies? Where are they from? What do you know about them? Are you aware of any other interests that they have besides those two topics? Once you have assessed this information, you can then tactfully and subtly maneuver the conversation into another subject.
For example, I didn't know a single mother in the playgroup I attended last week. I quietly joined the group and let the other women guide the conversation. I realized the ladies were pairing into two groups: the American mothers and the International mothers. After quickly tiring of the American mothers discussing labor, in-laws, etc. I subtly engaged myself with the International mothers, asking them questions such as where they are from, how long they have been here, etc. Once I felt like I knew a little about them, I wasted no time moving into one of my favorite topics, food. We talked about what they cooked for dinner, their favorite local supermarkets and instantly I was interested and engaged. Not only did we talk about light topics like food, I also learned more about the Indian culture. For that moment, I was able to see beyond the laundry, cooking, dishes, diapers, and other tedious daily tasks to a totally different world. It was fascinating and left me walking away from the playgroup energized and curious. Now THAT is a satisfying playgroup!
So reader, I encourage you to do the same...assess the mothers and start inquiring into things they know about and are interested in sharing beyond the two topics. Remember, behind every Mom is a woman who has dreams, interests, hobbies, etc....sometime it just takes a little effort to find them.


  1. I have been reading your blog since you got to my family's hometown in Italy, MDP!! I love reading it every once in a while. I moved to the North about 6 years ago, Southwest VA to Long Island NY. You would think I was used to it b/c my entire family is from here & I visited them every year, but no, you never get used to it, you just learn to deal with it. I miss homemade brewed ice tea at restaurants, amazing sunsets over the blue ridge mountains, everyone being so darn nice, and everything just going nice and slow. I don’t miss the music or the accent though. On the flip side, I do love the culture up here, the specialties food markets, (never down south!), being able to quickly jet set to NYC or the Hamptons to experience anything at anytime, not being ashamed of my heritage b/c I’m now not the only Italian in town, and being only 15 min away from the beach. The bad side of here is an insane amount of people on one tiny traffic filled island! Monte di Procida was the perfect mix of these 2 cultures. Any-who…the point of this comment was regarding the topic above. I am a newlywed and we are planning to have children very soon, which is a relief to both our families b/c they all have kids. It seems all they talk about are children, (mostly their own) and I have nothing to speak to them about except their children. I can mention our current events such as house hunting, our weekend at the Hamptons, or even a great movie and we get a quiet, "oh, that’s nice, anyways". I guess I'm boring in their eyes. Granted, these children are my nieces and nephews and I love them dearly, but are we not as important b/c we do not have children yet? (Imagine how I felt when I was single!!) There isn’t jealousy towards our “children-free” life, in fact, the jealousy is the other way around. The conversations among women in our family are usually only about children, religion, food or planning a party that affects all 3. If you do not have these blessings yet, your daily activities are just day fillers unless your life really begins with children. Thank goodness I love to cook & can plan a kick-ass party! I was the only girl who went to college and married at the age of 30! Eek. (black sheep!) I am so very happy for my family and their amazing children who give them such joy in life, b/c this is the way we were raised; children = family & family = life. God forbid one of us doesn’t want to have kids, it would mean we wouldn’t want to live. In our family, life is not about lot of money, fancy jobs, big house, or expensive material things, it’s all about the family….and of course food. Italians never lacked in that department. I’m sure you were exposed to the single-view culture and its amazing food while you were in Italy. Our family has made sure they brought it here: the culture through their family and the food through their restaurants. Too bad we don’t have any in Boston, but if you make it to Long Island, let me know!

  2. I certainly think that having children has added to my ability to appreciate things in life in a different way than before I had children. Now when I read a book or a great article, I'm desperate to seek out what others really thought and how it could impact how they DO things in life (parenting included, but not exclusively). And fine food? Don't you think you can enjoy a perfect gourmet meal better after enduring pb & j for days on end? Cooking? Seems like a luxury now to get in the kitchen and chop and create and play with food. Exercise, Work? All these things threaten to become only means in which I escape from what I do, rather than a means unto themselves.

  3. Again.....having a supportive, loving husband makes all the difference in a mother's processing her life with children and finding time for interests, too. Being on the same 'team' is key!!!