“Oh how cute. How old is he?”
I was sitting with Michael by the pool at our condo, counting down the final minutes of his day, when she walked up with a bright smile and a tiny baby girl tucked in the crook of her arm.
“About seven months,” I said, struggling to contain Michael as he attempted to climb over my head. “She’s… about the same?”
The baby girl was literally one third the size of Michael, with little newborn sized hands and feet, but she had the all-knowing eyes of a post-6 month old.
“Yes, eight months. He’s big huh? Eating well? On solids?”
By the end of our five minute conversation, I’d learned that baby Swara was exclusively breastfed (she wouldn’t accept bottles of any kind), exactly how much she weighed at birth and now (2.8kg and 4.5kg), how many feedings she had a day (4-5), and how she was doing for solids (pureed to a thin liquid, except for breakfast which was oatmeal). I’m surprised we didn’t make it to “Does he/she nap well?” but that’s definitely on the cards at some point.
Since that first meeting, Swara’s mom and I have exchanged rushed pleasantries on our individual walks about our condo facilities with our charges. But I still don’t know a thing about her, other than that she moved here from India last year. I don’t know her name. Neither of us has ever attempted to even approach the idea of acquaintanceship apart from our babies. And this is the same for Megan’s mom, Kieran and Zachary’s mom, Lauren’s mom…
And yet, these trivial mom conversations by the playground, the pool, in the entrance lobby, at the mailboxes, in the elevator – I enjoy them very much. Other than the sheer pleasure of talking to another adult, I genuinely do want to know when Megan learned to walk. When Kieran and Zachary slept through the night (9 weeks, damnit!!!) and when Lauren goes to bed. How did breastfeeding go for you? How much milk does your little one drink? Sippy cups? Straw cups? When and how?
None of it matters in the least, of course. It is dull dull dull but also… entirely fascinating.
When I was pregnant, I had a conversation with a non-pregnant friend who said that after her otherwise intelligent friends became mothers, they became boring and stupid. Harsh, but I know what she means, so I am careful to bite my tongue about the kid when in the presence other non-mommy friends. But oh, moms with babies – we have so much to discuss, don’t we? There’s just something so uplifting, so cheering, about reminding each other that we are in this together. Because mothering a baby is like being born again into a world that never existed before, and now exists so painfully.
We live on the moon, and it is made of cheese.
We are all at once lost, triumphant, fearful, confident, proud, ashamed, appalled, about things and in ways that we’ve never previously experienced in our lives. Frequently, we feel alone in our obsessions. These details – they are all dull, and they are all wonderful.
So I read you, and you read me. I say hi, and you say hi. I don’t know you, but I know how hard you work, and how hard it has been. How you feel about your little one. And with relief we say, oh I’ve been there, I’ve been there.