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Pickle Me This

January 4, 2011


Recently, I was speaking to someone who felt it necessary to commend me for having interests beyond my child, which sort of galled me, because I wondered what business was it of his where any of my interests lie. It continues to be very important for me to engage with the world in various ways, but what if it wasn’t? It is easy to make being a parent an all-consuming business, but I can think of worse things to be consumed by.

And then I was recounting this to a friend of mine who gave me her definition of an all-consumed parent, which is that friend who has a baby and never calls you again. Another, I suppose, would be the parent who is unable to talk about anything except their children (which would be fair enough if they ever asked questions about your own life, but they never do). The problem with these people, I would think, is not that these parents are all-consumed, but that they’re crappy friends, and totally rude. (Or maybe, maybe, they’re totally overwhelmed by new parenthood and require your support? Though this excuse should definitely come with an end-date).

Anyway, from all this discussion, it occurred to me how rarely any of us are ever talking about the same thing. How careful we should be in giving opinions, in taking things personally, and how important it is to be articulate. That perhaps so much of what divides us (and I am thinking of women in particular, for there  is no group more division-prone, except perhaps the Protestant church) is quite illusory, and how easily we might be able to clear things up with a bit of conversation.

5 thoughts on “Miscommunicado”

  1. m says:

    The Protestant church comment made me laugh!

    I don’t know of anyone whose only interest is their children. Just because they don’t talk about other interests (or, like you said, aren’t asked about them) doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Lots of things change when a person becomes a parent, but a dropping all previous interests and not growing new ones is not one of them.

    I feel like there are some people with whom I only talk about children/motherhood, but those people are also parents and I don’t know them well. I’d call them acquaintances, not friends. A way of making small-talk, I guess. I wouldn’t do that with folks who don’t have kids or, more importantly, who I consider real friends and have other things to talk about!

  2. Deborah says:

    If I were reading your comments in a book (a book that I owned I hasten to add)I would pencil in a version of marginalia I often found in the overwhelming inheritance of books I received from my parents: “How very true!”. Thank you for the timely reminder.

  3. Kerry says:

    What I was thinking about is the pressure for a woman to do something in addition to being a stay at home mom– something artistic or entrepreneureal. To “only” be a mom is a controversial choice sometimes.

    And thanks for your comment, Deborah, and for the connection to marginalia (which is one of my most favourite things).

  4. Very thought-provoking post. I worked outside the home when my children were small, but due to an international move, was home when they were school-aged.

    While homeschooling my younger son for Grades 4 and 5, I met a number of women whose sole focus was their spouse, their children, and their home. And by-and-large they were wonderful, loving, parents raising thoughtful, well-socialized children. They had more patience than I will ever have and there was no way I could think of them as “only” moms. They were goddess-moms. And I was jealous that I had never seen this model of mother before.

    This was in the US South, so it wasn’t controversial there. Too bad it is often seen as somehow beyond the pale up here in the so-called progressive north.

  5. m says:

    Kerry, thanks for clarifying. I know SAHMs who have plenty of interests which may not fall under the artistic or entrepreneureal label. Where do you think the pressure is coming from? Media/other mothers/the child-free? I don’t really see it where I am, but perhaps that’s because of the circles I’m in?

    Janet, I’m not sure where in the South you were, but I’m in the West (Alberta now, BC for most of my life) and in the more rural areas, the model you talk about is very much alive and well. I wonder if it’s more urban/rural than North/South?

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