About a decade ago, before a mortgage, a husband, and kids, I used to host get togethers. I’d invite all my lovely adult friends over and we would spend hours, sometimes the entire night, talking. We’d chew on ideas big and small. People did astounding things like waiting their turn to speak.
Now that I think back on that time in my life I have to wonder if I made that sh*t up. These days, I can’t get through a sentence without one of my kids interrupting me. Being engulfed in this torrid linguistical nightmare has put a damper on my ability to articulate myself beyond a few threats of time outs or weirdly long explanations for why we wear pants at the dinner table.
As such, my sphere of friendships has slowly been taken over by other parents, which is great for my eroding communication skills. No longer can I chill on the phone and have long drawn out conversations the way my mum could in the 1980s. I speak in a sort of modern mother shorthand in which I rely on my friends to be able to read between all the typos, autocorrects, and elaborate emoji sentences. Thank goodness most of them can do this.
While I may be accustomed to having my thoughts and words rammed over by the constant traffic of kids wanting and needing and asking a million questions — Why don’t spiders poop? Can I have another muesli bar? When will dad be home because he said that I can eat pancakes for dinner and MOM, YOU ARE THE WORST! — my friends, however, are not.
My favourite example of someone who understands my knack for cutting to the chase is my neighbour, Jaime. She just gets me. Last night, for example, I needed to know when the next Cub Scout meeting was and instead of calling her, I texted her a picture of a cave. She immediately knew that I was referring to a den meeting and drew the accurate conclusion that, as usual, my head was right up my a*s and I needed to be reminded yet again of all the details.
My friend Sara, however…well, she’s sweet and bless her heart, she still calls me on the phone to see how my day was. My own mother knows not to do that, for crying out loud. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not an a*shole, I really do love chatting with my friends, but I literally have no time for phones. I can barely text. So, when Sara calls me, I end up feeling like a big fat jerk because my blood pressure starts to go up as she slowly beats around the bush. I have to cut straight to the meat of whatever it is she needs to know or say.
Parents of young children have a look about them that just screams, “Please hurry up, Jimmy’s about to set the house on fire…no, really, get to the point, please!” I know I have it. I know my friends do, too, and I don’t fault any of us for it. It’s in the way a mum starts to silently mouth words in an attempt to finish a sentence, or in the stressed out twitching of her left eyelid.
Someday, when the kids are older, I’ll have more time for conversations, but for now, I am relying on texting, fist bumps, wild gestures, and looks of distress to communicate. For my friends who don’t get it, I hope they understand that I’m not intentionally being a jerk — even if that is what this looks like. The truth is, I have no time for chit chat, but I really miss that more than sleep. And to my mum friend like Jaime who can read a novel worth of communication in a single text, to you I say HUZZAH! We’re somehow getting through this and thank you for not judging me.