Sunday, 26 February 2012
All-consuming aspect of motherhood
I should start by reassuring you all that I am not pregnant nor broody nor any of those other (to me - inexplicable) states of being that all women are expected to experience at some point.
My feelings on that haven't changed since my early teens. I don't want kids now and I never have. I've always been grateful for that because when it comes to things like socialising, holidays etc I like to do what I want, when I want. Call me selfish, call me what you want, but that's the way I am.
Over the years, I've witnessed a phenomenon that seems to affect the vast majority of mothers (I would say parents but I've really only seen it with women). I'm talking about the sudden complete inability to hold a conversation about anything other than their child.
I sometimes visit a local café for my lunchbreak from work. It's a lovely café with delicious food, comfy seats, friendly staff and ... lots of yummy mummies and their kids. I'm prepared to overlook that to get my fix of Higgidy Pie and mash.
One day last summer I was enjoying said pie when three women, babies and toddlers in tow, entered and took the table next to mine. For the next 45 minutes there was precisely one topic of conversation - the kids. Or at least, their experience of having/bringing up those kids. They literally just compared notes on feeding, sleeping patterns, weaning, expressing milk, childcare, toys, prams, nappies, colic, vomit, poo, schools. You get the picture! At no point did I even hear them properly talk about themselves let alone anyone else unconnected to the kids. The very first exchange between two of the women was:
"How are you?"
"OK. She's not been sleeping and she won't eat properly at the moment. Oh, and Darren (who I worked out was the woman's son) just got into the football team at school!"
"Oh bless her. Hope she gets better soon. That's great about Darren. I can't wait til Luke is old enough to play football".
So basically she didn't actually answer the question "How are YOU?"
And so it went on. And on. And on. Punctuated only by various noises emanating from the prams, pushchairs, highchairs etc.
Surely motherhood is meant to be just one facet of a woman's life, if she chooses to go down that road. It shouldn't be the be all and end all. It shouldn't mean a total loss of personal identity. Or maybe I'm just missing the point given that I've never been interested in that aspect of life.