The care and feeding of squirrels.

Last night, I visited with some girlfriends under the stunning red moon. The restaurant patio was pleasant and the wine flowed.

We talked kids.

I love my friends. I want to hear about their lives. I am empathetic to the challenges of motherhood.


We talked about kids and parenthood and marriage as parents for 2 hours. As a childfree person, this was kind of like talking about squirrels for 2 hours.

Yes, I am very familiar with squirrels. There are lots of squirrels around. I have provided short-term sustenance and care for squirrels. I happen to like squirrels.

But I don’t have squirrels of my own, and am unfamiliar with the day-to-day challenges of squirrel care. I know squirrelhood can be difficult and the keepers of squirrels need to vent and compare notes.

I have no squirrels. Instead, last night, I had a wandering mind. I’m ashamed to admit that I committed that greatest of all social faux pas: I checked my phone.

I try to channel my childfree, perennially single, and quite fabulous friend Liza during these times. What would Liza do?

I have no idea. Maybe she’d go to the ladies’ room and call a friend with benefits. Except I’m married and I’m pretty sure my friend with benefits would be at our shared home anyway.

So I smiled and tried to be engaged. I do not want to diminish anyone’s experience. Except … by doing so, am I denying my own experience as someone gets sick of talking about other people’s kids all the damned time?

I think it’s just a pitfall of being a woman in your 30s. Raising kids is what all of my peers are doing right now, while I’m painting baseboards and trying to find myself.

This summer, I ran into an acquaintance who, upon figuring out where I live, rattled off a list of neighbors that surely I knew. I knew none of them. Finally, exasperated, the acquaintance said, “Do you go to Grant?”

Grant is the elementary school in my hood.

I graciously replied that I don’t have children, but I’m sure the mothers on my street are lovely people.

But really, I wanted to say, “Actually, I graduated from elementary school several years ago. Clearly, you’ve lost yourself and are identifying yourself in terms of your children. Dude, that’s messed up. So don’t be all looking down at me. I know who I am.”

So, that last part is maybe a stretch. I’m figuring out who I am. And I’m someone who gets tired of talking about squirrels.

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  • Reply cookingwithgas August 22, 2013 at 4:46 pm

    stop talking about that cake- Lilly Tomlin routine that comes to mind when people fixate on a subject, such as their kids or them.
    Enough about me, let's talk about me.

    It is hard.
    I find myself figuring out different ways to mentally know what is going on while trying to figure out how to move the conversation somewhere else.
    I have friends who never had kids. When we are together we talk about other things.
    Books, movies, husbands, parents…
    Trying to figure out how to converse and bring everyone in. I do find that some folks are a bit squeamish when I bring in snakes and mice…
    I like my kids but they have their own lives.
    I also like what I do, but I don't want to talk about it all the time.
    I find that I keep looking for people that make me laugh.

  • Reply Becky August 22, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    I find that most of my friends I know through my kid. Certainly our kids take up a good bit of conversation, but they are also a launch pad for other things we have in common – food, wine, music,marriage, tales of women of a certain age share as we approach menopause. Seriously, that's now a conversation topic since at least one in one of my groups of friends had hot flashes in the middle of happy hour one night.

    That said, asking if you go to the elementary school is just weird. That assumes you consider your child's experiences as your own – helicopter parenting at it's worst. Ugh.

  • Reply Gary's third pottery blog August 22, 2013 at 8:32 pm

    Not to diminish your feelings, but I cannot resist joking: at least with squirrels they won't drink straight out of the milk carton OR need braces, nor will they came home at 3 am in a strange boy's Camaro….

  • Reply Mary @ Giving Up On Perfect August 22, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    Dude. I have a squirrel and get tired of talking about them! If I had to talk only about squirrels with my friends (moms or not), I'd lose my mind.

    Obviously you need friends as cool as me. 🙂

  • Reply Liz in Virginia August 22, 2013 at 11:15 pm

    I'm with Mary! When I get the chance to be out without the squirrels, the last thing I want to talk about is the squirrels!

  • Reply Kelley August 23, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    Agreed, if I get a chance to get away and have time without my squirrel, I'm not going to talk about my squirrel. Given the chance, I'll talk about anything non-squirrely. Squirrels, much like children, are sort of spastic and odd, and not everyone will find your squirrel as precious as you do.

  • Reply Kate August 23, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    Holy cats!
    I get bored of *myself* if I catch myself talking about my squirrels too much. When all else fails, start talking about sex.

  • Reply Green Girl in Wisconsin August 23, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    I have a friend who told me years ago how she hates it when her friends go on and on about their kids–she didn't have any. It was a good reminder for me to be empathetic–and take advantage of her to discuss FUN stuff like movies, books, politics, religion, SEX, travel, food…that they never got to another topic means their lives are just that limited. What a shame.
    And most of my good friends hardly ever talk about their kids–crazy.

  • Reply Mrs. G. August 27, 2013 at 6:42 am

    I have squirrels and when I go out with adults (who aren't immediate family)I don't want to talk about them either.

  • Reply Karen (formerly kcinnova) August 31, 2013 at 5:20 am

    Nothing wrong with squirrels… actually, there are lot of things wrong with them: they constantly chatter at me when I'm trying to be alone in the backyard!
    Books, aging parents, travel dreams, crazy drivers — there are so many other things to talk about!

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