It happens all the time. As parents, we tend to talk about our kids. A lot. They are all consuming little buggers, and our mental health requires us to be able to talk about how they got us sick with the stomach bug or how little sleep they gave us the night before. In any event, you are bound to be talking about this with people who are NOT parents. You can choose to make it as painless and quick as possible or settle in for a whole shitload of awkwardness.
I was at lunch one day when a new staff member had started. Six or seven of us were sharing stories about some shitty thing our littles had done and then it trailed off into a few other conversations. “How old are yours now?” S asked me. I told her 2 and 4. Then she turned to the person next to her. “And how old are your kids?” she asked J. J blinked. “I don’t have kids.” “Oh.” S responded. Now, here’s the “what do you do?” portion. Do you: A) leave it alone and move on (better option) or B) continue the conversation about the fact that J doesn’t have kids? Yes, S opted for the the latter. Ugh. Awkward with a capital A. “Really?? I guess I just thought that…because you were sort of chiming into the conversation…that you did have kids. I didn’t know. I’m sorry.” J blinked again, not skipping a beat. “Nope. No kids. Just cats.” Cue foot in mouth for S. I mean, really. You kind of reach a point where if someone says “no kids” you just move on, right?? I sat there, in complete disbelief and embarrassment because I wanted S to just shut her mouth and leave J (and the entire conversation) alone. J took it in stride, but it was still annoying. I am sure it happens to her a lot, being stuck in conversations like that. I also found out after the fact that J had trouble getting pregnant, so her and her husband opted out. But, at the time, no matter what you know or don’t know, if someone says, “I don’t have kids” you move the fuck on to avoid the awkwardness.
Then, there are the other types of non-parent conversations. The ones where the person involved doesn’t have kids YET but is definitely planning on it. But, they are getting too much information that they are mortified hearing all of it. Last night, I was at a girls’ night, celebrating my friend’s third pregnancy which is quickly coming to a close. The rest of us, save two women, one quiet type and the other young, single gal who cracked jokes the entire time at her own expense, were all mothers. Add some wine, moms who hadn’t been out much recently, and viola, out comes the birthing stories (pun intended). Vaginas, medicines, the wand of fun when getting ultrasounds (“Do you want me to guide it in or do you?”), nothing was off limits. The non-mom (not the joke-cracker) proceeded to try to drown in her glass of wine, turning as red as her wine the entire time. The guest of honor kept putting her arms around her, apologizing jokingly, but the non-mom grew more and more uncomfortable. Did we relent? No way. Unfortunately, that’s what wine does to moms who haven’t been out in awhile. I felt bad, but at least our alcohol-induced overshare made me feel a little less terrible about talking the way we were in our TMI state.
I suppose it’s unavoidable. Being a parent, we are going to talk about our children. And yes, our audience may not always be other parents. So we have a choice. We can be mindful of our audience and share some information here and there but move on to other conversations that can include everyone, or we can get more in depth or make the others feel uncomfortable by continuing to ask more questions regarding their reproductively challenged or delayed lives. We can try our best to avoid the awkward conversations, but they may creep in regardless. Do you best, however, to avoid sticking your foot in your mouth. It will save everyone’s face, including your own.