This weekend Mr M and I had a rare chance to spend a night home alone. Before anyone gets any funny ideas it was mainly due to two reasons: 1) my parents have spent the past six years living in Paris and have now moved back, therefore emptying their storage locker and my garage of their possessions which we needed to sort prior to their collection and 2) we were knackered after a week of sleep training. I use the royal “we” but in reality it was more me directing from the sidelines; the brains of the organisation if you please. After several heated exchanges of words and one sided accusations of too many clothes (a complete and utter lie) we decided to call it a day on furniture removal/garage packing/pouring wardrobe scorn and retreat to the local for a few shandies in the remains of the sun.
Now don’t get me wrong it’s always fun to do this because sun and pubs tend to bring out a sea of characters always willing to provide you with entertainment and a talking point but I couldn’t help but notice that 95% of our conversation revolved around our daughters. Even more noticeable was that it was probably conversation we’d had before but neither of us could remember. It dawned on me then that we had definitely become parents. Parents who talk about their kids. A lot. Almost exclusively (the other 5% was what food we were going to eat and how unbelievably drunk the woman was on the table opposite ours).
I’d heard from a number of reliable sources (friends) that once children came along you, as an individual, ended up taking a little bit of a back seat, but even I was taken aback by how quickly we’d become “just” the twins mum and dad. Our local estate, though large still has quite a little community feel to it and I remember our health visitor saying we were one of four sets of twin parents living there. As it turns out one was our neighbour. So much for our observation skills I hear you cry! We’d never really spoken before but as soon as we had the girls that changed. I know pretty much the whole of my immediate street post the twins arrival. I don’t think anyone ever waved in the past, I certainly can’t remember anyone doing so? That seems to be the power of having children, they instantly make you more appealing and interesting to talk to. Or perhaps it’s that you now have a rather obvious thing in common with them?
I’ve also discovered that some topics of conversation are only appropriate for certain groups of people, and indeed certain locations. Fairly quickly you realise the single or childless friends probably aren’t as enamoured with your chosen topic of sleep patterns/dirty nappies as you think they are, and that brings me back to the topics you tend to find yourself discussing in a “more than is healthy” manner as new parents. So, just because I really do love a good list here are the top ten new parents conversation topics I guarantee you’ll all engage in at some point!
1) Poo: Is your baby having any? How much there is? Or why isn’t there any? What was the consistency like? Did it smell? What colour was it? If you could liken it to a food what would it be? Then at some point you go a step further and discuss this with your new mum friends as if it’s always been an acceptable conversation topic over lunch.
2) Feeding: Whether it’s about breast feeding, bottlefeeding or weaning at some point you’ll end up having a conversation surrounding what your baby has had food wise for the day. It’s either sore nipples, and cluster feeding, or an unhealthy obsession with the number of ounces of milk the baby has taken (and where mental arithmetic really helps). With weaning it’s whether you’re spoon led or baby led? What they’re going to eat today? How much they ate yesterday? How much they’ve eaten today? What they’re going to try tomorrow? How they loved carrots but hated parsnips and the right time to add water in cups into the mix. Do they eat with you or separately? Supermarket shopping has never been so intense.
3) Life before they arrived: You all say you can’t remember what it was like before your baby arrived. “Can you remember before…?” Of course you can but it’s just that it doesn’t really seem to matter that you could do all of those pre baby things because you’re happy with how things are. Or because you might break down in hysterics now you understand true sleep deprivation.
4) Your hopes and aspirations for your children: What will they become? What will you encourage them to be? What hobbies do you hope they take up? Will they be sporty like dad? Or a diva like mum? Will they be academics? Will they love school (because I adored school so I hope that at least one of them takes this from me).
5) Who they look like: It’s always curious that you can never see yourself in your children. I think both the girls look like their daddy (minus the beard and hairy chest for starters obviously) but can’t see myself in them at all. I assume there must be an element of me after growing them for 38 weeks but I can’t for the life of me work out where.
6) Sleep: This is always a big one. Sleeping patterns in babies seem to change as regularly as their nappies, and just when you think you’ve conquered it a new development takes place and you’re thrown again. Often it’s about how tired you both are. Sometimes that’s the end of any conversation as you acknowledge you haven’t really got the energy to even chat anymore about said exhaustion and mutually agree to an early night to capitalise on catching some zzzz’s. A lot of the time it’s about how the baby has slept. Or is sleeping. Or how you can try this method to get them to sleep. Or why that method didn’t work and you should try the next one.
7) Planning: Whether you’re being brave and venturing on a trip away (see my previous blog post to find out why we aren’t again this year), or returning to work and discussing childcare arrangements all conversations you have together inevitably lead to some type of event coordination. Mr M and I often reel off dates for specified activities, either with the babies or as an individual, to each other although I don’t know why because he invariably forgets everything I tell him anyway.
8) Spending money: Having kids is expensive. Having twins is often doubly so because there’s less opportunity to recycle, and if you buy for one you generally feel obliged to buy for the other. This topic often ends in me showing Mr M various screenshots of everything I’ve bought while he mentally tallies up how much overtime he might need to consider with a spendaholic wife.
9) Photos: You can spend the rest of time looking at them but I always find one of us ends up going back to the very start when they were first born to remind ourselves how small and breakable they used to be. Then you get to spend an unhealthy amount of time remarking on big they are now and how you can’t believe they’ve grown into “proper babies” whilst going through all the recent pictures of them being unwittingly hilarious.
10) How they’re going to be best friends: I suspect this is particularly relevant to multiples parents but if you’re expanding your family and introducing siblings then you always hope that your child/children has a close bond to their new brothers/sisters. We find ourselves talking about watching them grow up together and always having each other a lot. I’m fortunate to have a close relationship to my brother and my childhood memories are full of the adventures we shared so to know the girls will be able to create the same magical times together is pretty special. The more they grow, the more that relationship is starting to form, even at this young age, and you can’t help but be excited for what’s to come.
I could go on but I won’t. Let me know if there’s things you are your partner/ friends/ family end up discussing!