Talk to me, please! About anything. That brilliant new drama you watched on the telly last night. The appalling service at the restaurant you went to at the weekend. Have a moan about the friend who’s really annoying you right now. Fill me in on the latest gossip from your newly-divorced cousin and the hot dates she’s going on. Or anything else you desire that would qualify as an actual adult conversation.
Because some days I could really, really do with some grown-up chatter – and this week has been full of those days.
Don’t get me wrong, I love spending my days with my children, I really do. I feel very lucky that being a self-employed writer means I can fit my work around my family so that I can share so much of my children’s early years with them.
But. But. BUT…. as happy and grateful as I am for my three amazing children, there are some days when I really need to talk about grown-up stuff with other adults who aren’t my husband.
There are times when I think there must be more to my life than singing nursery rhymes and reading picture books to my toddler. There are moments when I can’t face answering any more impossible questions from my four-year-old. There are days when I am bored of the sound of my own voice asking my children to stop arguing. And there are occasions when I curse self-employment and not having any real-life colleagues because I just need to talk to other grown-ups.
It sounds like such a stupid thing to say, because I do have conversations with adults all the time. But mostly, it’s a quick catch-up at the school gates, while parents drop their kids off before dashing to work. Or its at soft play or the park where you’ve met up with friends but you barely manage to hear the end of a story because there are nappies to be changed, babies to be fed, toilet trips to be taken, tantrums to be dealt with, and playing with your child to be done.
Juicy conversations get started and never finished due to some interruption or other. Or you tend to chat about ‘safe’ subjects, appropriate for little ears. A lot of the chat is kid-driven by latest milestones or pressing parenting issues. These kinds of connections often end up making you feel more disconnected; because you don’t get to scratch below the surface you don’t have the chance to work on the intimacy which helps those friendships to cement.
Then there are the weeks when day time plans with other parent friends get cancelled, or the nights when your other half, if you have one, is working late or going out, meaning it’s quite possible to go for days at a time without a significant conversation with anyone who I didn’t give birth to.
I’m fortunate to have a few groups of friends where the chatter is free-flowing on Facebook messenger. Their posts keep me sane on the days when parenting is particularly challenging. I know if I have an issue, or need to moan, they are all ears and I’m truly grateful for that.
But I also know that we’re all quickly typing with one hand while doing a million parent-related things with the other, often finishing up messages because there are little people to attend to. There are exciting stories that don’t get told because it’d take too long to write it all down. There is news to be shared that gets forgotten about because someone disappears for a while and the conversation quickly moves on.
And, to state the obvious, these conversations are not happening face-to-face. I can’t see my friends laughing when one of them recounts a juicy piece of gossip, or give them a hug when something is worrying them. As much as I love their online talk, it’s just not the same as seeing them in the flesh.
Of course there are nights when I go out with my various groups of mum friends – but these happen nowhere near as frequently as before kids. Partly because it takes weeks to coordinate everyone’s schedules when it comes to childcare, partly because people are knackered from parenting/going to work/running a household.
When we do get to meet up, in the evenings, away from the kids, the conversation starts flowing away from parenting and on to the exciting stuff and you find yourself crying with laughter as the night progresses. “We must do this more often,” you say, although deep down you all know it’ll take you another three months to find a night that fits.
Like I said, I love being a mum and I love spending my days with my children, I really do. I know this time won’t last forever. But there’s more to me than just being a mum and those lonely days where you don’t talk to anyone can be really tough.
So next time a random mum starts chatting away a little too enthusiastically to you in soft play, don’t be alarmed. She’s not a crazy stalker woman, she probably just hasn’t spoken to another grown-up for a few days.
Can you relate? Do you ever have days when you crave grown-up conversation? Do let me know in the comments section below, by tweeting me on @cardiffmummy, or come and hang out on the Cardiff Mummy Says Facebook page and join in the chat there.