My job is kind of unique. I work as a marketing rep out in the field. As I cover a sizeable chunk of the United States Mid-Atlantic region, I spend a significant amount of time behind the wheel of my car. There is something to be said for the solitude given the chaos of raising the tiny velociraptors that are our three-year-olds.
However, there is still a need for human contact during my work day. As my co-workers spend as much time behind a windshield as I do, we often spend our drive time on our Bluetooth, engaged in conversation.
This particular day, the conversation went something like this:
Coworker: How was your weekend?
Me: Rough; one of my little guys is constipated. Poor kid is so backed up. He hasn’t pooped in a few days. I’m not sure what we’re going to do. We’ve tried a couple…
Coworker: Dale, I don’t care about your kid’s poop!
It was at that moment that I realized something: I have completely forgotten how to hold an adult conversation!
As parents, it’s easy to become isolated from other adults. Those that we do gravitate toward tend to be other parents who don’t really mind “talking shop.” We have shared relatable experiences to drive the conversation. But when we do find those rare opportunities to connect with our friends who haven’t taken up the mantle of parenting, we find ourselves completely ignorant of the fact that while our friends might want a brief update on how our family is doing, it’s likely not the crowd pleasing conversation topic that we think it is.
We can become so immersed in our parenting bubble that it’s difficult to even remember the things that we used to talk about with our friends prior to having children. I vaguely remember having hobbies and interests outside of the day to day shenanigans of our tiny humans, but let’s face it, anything prior to my wife’s water breaking is kind of a blur.
Trust me, I get it. I can imagine sitting down with my friend, the accountant, as he clumsily attempts to steer every conversation back to industry jargon-filled descriptions of his day. Stories, that while they might be funny with his coworkers who are “in the know”, would probably glaze my eyes over and encourage the classic “time to be hitting the old dusty trail” response.
So what are we to do? At this particular juncture of our lives, our days consist primarily of potty training and tantrums. I’ve found that my friends without children have very little interest in what’s happening on Sesame Street, and my knowledge of Daniel Tiger’s medical history is all but wasted.
What I think it really comes down to is making a commitment to getting to know ourselves again. With our children’s naps getting shorting and their bedtimes getting later, that is going to be a pretty tall, if not unlikely order, but it’s worth giving it a shot. It’s important to carve at least a few minutes of life to remember who we are outside of our parental responsibilities and our careers. It may even mean that my wife and I are going to have to be a little selfish and in some cases, selfless. We need to encourage each other to “take a break” and give up some of our valuable family time in the pursuit of our own interests. That means one of us is going to have to dive into the raptor pen and keep the tiny terrors in check while the other gets in some much needed “me time.” After all, it’s only going to be through non-parenting related experiences that we are going to create non-parenting related conversations. I mean sure, beefing up my vintage Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle toy collection might be an equally boring topic of conversation to our friends without kids, but at least it’s progress, right?
And to my friends without children who have to endure the endless potty training anecdotes and have had our iPhones with pictures of our kids thrust upon you, I apologize. Someday, with a little effort, we may be able to become charming and interesting people again. Until then, I would consider catching up on the latest episodes of Sesame Street, so we have something to talk about.