Scenes from an Italian Restaurant.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I had a “group dinner” with three other couples who we’ve known forever. You can imagine the scene: eight people seated at a table in an Italian restaurant. The women are together at one end of the table, the men at the other end. A bottle of red. A bottle of white. Blah, blah, blah. We used to go to dinners like this all the time when we were younger, and I loved them. But then people started having kids, they didn’t have sitters, schedules became harder to coordinate, and the group dinners happened more and more infrequently. So, recently, we decided to make more of an effort. We planned months in advance, got a date on our calendars, made a reservation. We did it. And now I never want to do it again. I think this snippet of conversation from the ladies’ end of the table may help explain why:

 


WIFE #1
Is your son sleeping in underwear yet? Because my son is still in pull ups and I’m starting to think that something is wrong with him.

 

WIFE #2
I wouldn’t worry about it. My pediatrician said that some kids are just deep sleepers, and it takes them longer.

 

WIFE #3
Who is your pediatrician? Do you go to Dr. Bob? Because I interviewed him when I was pregnant, and something about him rubbed me the wrong way, but now everyone I know goes to him, and I’m wondering if I made a mistake because I’m not that happy with my pediatrician anymore.

 

ME
I’m reading the best book right now. It’s about this writer who spends an entire year following the bible literally. It’s really funny. (Long pause as everyone stares at me).

 

WIFE #1
Oh, my God, have you guys been to the shoe sale at Neiman’s yet? I got the best pair of boots.

 

Okay, so forgive me for generalizing here, but when did women become so boring? I know, I know, they’re not all boring. I said I was generalizing. It’s just that, I have to say, I’ve noticed a direct correlation between the number of children my friends have and their ability to talk about anything interesting. Not that kids and shopping and pediatricians aren’t interesting. It’s just that, they’re only interesting for a finite amount of time. Ten minutes: interesting. Ad nauseum: not so interesting.

 

When I couldn’t take hearing about Wife #3’s problems with her decorator any longer, I let my ear wander over to the men’s end of the table for a little while, where they were talking about the economy, about Obama, about an interesting study reported in the New York Times. Ah, I thought. That’s what I’m talkin’ bout. I scooted my chair closer to them and joined the conversation, abandoning the other wives all together.

 

HUSBAND #1
My firm is representing a school board against a group of parents who are suing the district for not including intelligent design in the science curriculum. Can you believe that?

 

HUSBAND #2
You know there’s a museum somewhere that is dedicated to intelligent design. They have huge exhibits of men riding dinosaurs.

 

Rob in Madrid
02.05.09

Even though the Wife and I don't have kids I can relate. When we first got married all our friends, church going couples, all had kids young. My wife said she got along better with the men because she had a career and none of wives worked or had any interests outside of the house and kids.

Fastforward 25 years and we're still in the same as couples are having kids soooo late in life. Although it is better, you do have more world view when you have kids latter in life.

Secondly as my wife is heading in menopause she FINALLY has something in common with many of the women in her peer group.

Surprisingly though our best friends all have young kids and we get along great, maybe, as I mentioned, they didn't start their family until their late 30's early 40s.

bird123
02.01.09

I believe I attended this Italian dinner, or maybe one just like it. Not a scintillating conversation, I'll agree, but no worse than a supercilious blog entry filled with average Billy Joel references. ;-)

dr_me
01.31.09

I think you sound closed-minded for complaining about your friends. I'm a mother with a Ph.D. and a career, and I relish time with my girlfriends to talk about nothing more substantial than celebrity gossip or new shoes, or to touch base about my parenting worry du jour. If I had been at your dinner you would have considered me boring. Your loss.

lafuerte01
01.14.09

You totally hit the nail on the head for me. I have often found myself gravitating toward my friends without kids to have "normal" conversations. Hanging out with other parents always leads to the stuff your group talked about. I want a break from being a mom--not talk about mom stuff all the time! Way to go, Risa!

kjpope
01.14.09

And now you sound like a woman ready to divorce her husband because she doesn't like their conversation topics over the nightly dinner table. From your own statement, "And now I never want to do it again." Do you have any idea how that makes you sound? Do you wonder why your friends don't want to make the effort to go out with you very often???

Friends, especially from way back in the early days grow up, develop their own interests and grow apart. There is a reason none of you are making an effort to stay in contact every day. Your involved with neighborhood moms, other school moms, other moms from your kids extra curricular activites, work, etc... people who you now share some common interests. Hey when my son goes to a new school or develops a new interest my whole social circle changes.

Here's how I imagine the conversation went between one of your buddies and her PTA mom friend the next day, "Yah, we were having a meaningful discussion on our children's (INSERT SUBJECT) and she kept rambling on about some biography she read. Some guy was having issues over the fact he couldn't have sex with his wife and it was a rule HE SELF IMPOSED ON BOTH OF THEM! And she was so upset that no one else was intersted in that lame topic. Can you imagine? Who reads that kind of garbage? Its not at all goal oriented..."

Personally I would have just given you the blank look, said "Ah huh." and changed the topic to something I was interested in. Like umh "Well I'm still employed. I got a token raise..." Friendship is a two way street, you have to look beyond your narrow tunnel vision of how that friendship should work. Put the biography away and try an thriller next time. You might all have a topic you can converse on if the other mothers have time to read, I don't.

tvtrace
01.14.09

Yep. That was one helluva boring dinner. But any dinner sans kids is a good one in my book.

I say that even though my daughter is great when we dine out but it sure is nice just to go to dinner with my husband or better yet a bunch of girlfriends (even boring ones).

Tracy
http://themoxiereport.blogspot.com

ecomindedmama
01.14.09

Ding, ding, ding! You describe the brain-drain perfectly. It's something I lament about personally, that I don't have the time (make that *make the time*) to stay up on current events and to read mind-stimulating books. I'm so in the thick of childcare that I need an ESCAPE when I have free time, and reading about the nuances of our economic woes is just too depressing. I promise myself that I'll be interesting and well-read again someday. Someday!

the23rdelf
01.14.09

That is a very good book - I am reading it right now! Good call.

chrysa
01.14.09

Funny. Same old, same old. My son is getting ready to leave for college and the concept of finding like minds, interested in art, culture, world events and such is a challenge. I thought it was suburbia, but it certainly smacked me in the face when I seemed to be on the minority side of stay-at-home moms who wanted to discuss the world at large. Well, take heart. There are great minds out there, while changing diapers and doing play groups. It takes a little to seek them out, but then again, when you're not 'at the office' it's a bit more of a challenge to find those who you relate to....sometimes friends, intellectual friends, become numb to the substance that once energized them. So, go where the thinkers and talkers go: a class, a club, friends who do similar work....I think it actually worked out better. I find people now who are not only interesting, but interested in what I am. Good luck.

mpolhemus
01.13.09

Oh...Risa Green. The last two weeks your articles have been such a bright spot in my week. Last week I posted a link to your "resolution" because it was so universal. This week, I worry that I would insult my non-working friends. One of the reasons that I went back to work earlier than I had planned was that I could no longer move from school, to activities and talk about the mundane.