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Dear Care and Feeding,
I am a parent to two kids, a 2-year-old and a 4-month-old. I have been lucky to have a solid crew of mom friends (even during the pandemic) to hang with, but the problem is I just don’t think I like other parents or what being a mom has made me socially. Frankly, I constantly feel basic. So much talk about sleeping and potty-training and sippy cups and the same five Instagram accounts that offer great advice, and then the weird quasi-competitive dynamics. The sound of other people using cutesy voices with their kids is like nails on a chalkboard to me (even though I do it myself). Will this get better as the kids get older? Do I need to find new mom friends? How do I release my discomfort over who I am when I am with other moms? What am I doing wrong?
— Murderous at the Word Montessori
Not to be all “not all moms,” but I think it’s fair to say that not every single conversation you have with a fellow parent needs to look like this. It’s something about this particular group dynamic. It can be hard to find people you really connect with, and thus feel able to share real talk with—and when there’s less general openness and shared social comfort, I think we have a greater tendency to fall back on the same old basic (to borrow your word) topics. I suspect if you had a very close friend—fellow mom or not—who you could talk to about other subjects, you would. More than new mom friends, I think you just need some more and different friends, period.
As for how to get over your discomfort in this particular group, you’ve got a few choices. It could get better as you make other friends and find yourself less annoyed because you have other types of conversations. You could also choose to spend less time with this group, and/or get to know some of its members 1:1, so there’s more opportunity to talk and share in a way that goes beyond parent talk and small talk. You might find that you really gel with some but not all of them individually, and that’s okay. In any case, I do think this will get better as your kids get older and go to school and your social universe expands, and I also think you can look for some new friends with whom you share other interests, too.
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Advance-settle a ridiculous argument for my fiancé and me: One of us grew up with much greater wealth than the other, and we had wildly different after-school care. One of us was a latchkey kid starting in fourth grade and responsible for a younger sibling starting in seventh grade; the other had a nanny until they went to college, and sort of through college since the nanny stayed on for the younger sibling. Both of us think our own childhood was the better option (and are kind of horrified by the other). Both of us turned out fine, for the record.
Latchkey Kid wants our future kids to have a babysitter until they’re about 13; Nanny Kid wants our future kids to have a nanny until college. What say you?