Thursday, May 12, 2005

All Hail the Baby Bores!

THERE WAS a time when I was renowned for my sparkling wit and dazzling after dinner conversation. If you wanted a witty quip or an hilarious one liner then I was your gal.

If there was a topic on the news that had grabbed your attention, I was the very person to lead a (semi) intellectual debate on the issue. I was the equivalent of Sky News to some of my friends and it felt good.
And then, well then, I became a mammy and all intellectual talk disappeared out the window to be replaced with anecdotes about Jo Jingles, weaning, nappy changes and the latest words my son has attempted to say.
Of course, when it comes to babies I know the score. Want a good buggy? I've done the research and can tell you all about the market leaders. Want to conceive? Well I'm the the gal to tell you about cycles, ovulation and other super girlie things. And when it comes to the best disposable nappy on the market, we've been through them all and have a firm thumbs up for Tesco.
And while this suits me at the moment; it hardly makes me the most inspiring conversationalist in the company of non-parents.
Which is exactly what happened to me last Sunday. Having decided to meet some school friends I hadn't see in about six months for lunch, I knew this was going to be a mammoth gossip session.
None of these friends have children. One is newly wed, the other planning her wedding and the third patiently holding out for a proposal of marriage from her Mr. Right. On the other hand there was me, married four years (with one stone on for every year of marriage!) with an ankle biter and well settled into my adult existence.
While they began regaling stories of their dazzling careers, their wedding plans and their hectic social lives I recounted what happened in the latest episode of "Noddy" and discussed my home-made chicken nuggets.
There were discussions about holidays, hair dos and hangovers. My contribution involved details of our forthcoming family exodus (Entitled "Two frazzled parents and a mad baby invade Rathmullan"), my son's curly locks (trying to decide if he looks cute or a bit too like Kevin Keegan) and the fact that two glasses of wine is enough to give me a hangover that will knock me off form for the entire following day.
The thing is, I was vaguely aware that my friend's eyes were glazing over. You see, I've accepted that while I, as a mammy, am in awe of every cough, babble, fart and clap my first born does, I know it's not exactly in the realms of fascinating repartee.
But it is hard, as a new parent, to think of something else to talk about it. Most new parents find their lives consumed by the changes that having a child brings. Before you give birth people tell you that it will change your life and that things will never be the same again.

Life changing?
You laugh and scoff and think they have to be exaggerating slightly. Surely once bubs is asleep your life can resume as it was and, with the help of a trusted babysitter, your life need not change one bit.
You've seen countless celebs pop out their oddly named children and snap back into shape before the midwife has even finished the episiotomy stitches, so there is no way that you think 15 months down the road you will still look like you're still pregnant.
And you think, because we are the modern generation who can easily multi-task and achieve anything we want, that baby will sleep or play contentedly while you catch up on the news or read the Sunday morning papers.
But when baby comes along, you suddenly realise you may have been wrong. And as that large "Ehhhh, Ehhhh" sound from Family Fortunes plays in your head you struggle to do the basics; never mind read up on the latest developments in the Middle East.
You realise the people you thought would beat your door down to babysit actually have their own lives and commitments (all that drinking, socialising and watching the news uninterrupted to do) and as you try to fold your flabby post baby belly into your jeans you realise that it may just be some time before you find yourself in the high fashion stakes again.
And so, you talk about what you know. Forget the Middle East, I know nothing about it, but I can tell you all the latest goings on in Toytown, Woodland Valley or Balamory.
And where you used to boast about your own adventures, you boast about your child's. Yes, admittedly its sad, its boring and its not the standard of conversation people normally expect; but it does make you feel kind of good because you are the ultimate expert on the subject. (Do you think Mastermind would take me on? My specialist subject: Joseph and his bizarre habits)
There is a jingle at the end of some programme on the TV where a child's voice says with pride "I made that"; and if I'm honest every time I look at my son and see him do something new I think, admittedly smugly, to myself: "I made that"; and I want to tell the world about it.
I just hope my friends and colleagues keep humouring me by listening.

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