GIRLS NIGHT OUT. What a godawful phrase. It’s right up there with Mum’s The Word. So, call it what you will—Hen Party? Really?—but last night I was invited to a gathering of eight women. Over plates of sushi, I’m amazed to report, sex didn’t come up once. What did?
Pediatricians. Good after school programs and places. Neighbors and their hoods. Jewish geography, and then mom competition. We weren’t competing, but the subject came up, the fact that so many women, mothers specifically, become competitive through their children. If you’ve seen the movie Baby Boom (if you haven’t, you are dead to me), there’s a sandbox scene where Diane Keaton’s character, J.C., has just decided to officially inherit a baby girl named Elizabeth. J.C. is watching her daughter suck on something as another child remarks to his mother that the sky resembles a Cézanne painting.The line that ends the scene, “She’s gonna be waaaay behind all the other babies.” Or maybe it was “The other babies are gonna be waaaay ahead of her.” Some anxiety-inducing phrase.
This type of dinner talk never, ever, interested me. In fact, it repelled me. I wanted no part of “mommy talk,” or mommy blogs, especially. For the most part, I still don’t. While, yes, I want to, and have begun to make mom friends, I can’t force myself to be friends with someone just because she had fruitful unprotected sex. I need to connect with a person outside of all her assigned roles.
So, I was surprised to find myself holding court, speaking in mom. Revealing my Montessori obsession, I heard myself saying these words, “Here’s my problem. Who cares if your kid can read at three, four, or five? Look, my son is four, and he can sound out words, knows his phonics, a lot of sight words, simple sentences, whereas my daughter would rather dress up like a pop rock. Do I think it matters? No, I really don’t. Eventually they all learn to read, and they all level off. I’m just saying, I’d rather my kids be the ones to invent the ipod, not the ones who can read off one.” Creativity dies the older we get. I’d rather nourish that than a skill you can teach to anyone.
“Yeah,” someone said, “that’s probably true, but moms are just competitive.”
“Yeah, it is what it is.”
I mean, just look at me. Always in the slowest reading group, I might
add boast. And, yet, years later I’m able to fully own it, along with the revelation that I’ve been speech-delayed… in mom-speak. But, I’m coming around.