My standard small talk typically revolves around the weather. I
use it to fill the uncomfortable gaps in conversation while
chatting with the bus driver, the dentist, or the lady behind me in
line at the Jewel. It's safe. There is just something so simple and
non-controversial about weather.
Or so I thought. I made mention of the recent temperature
fluctuations to a neighbor yesterday. This led to a discussion of
Hurricane Isaac which resulted in comments about the related delay
to the Republican National Convention. Then, without warning, I
became the recipient of an unexpected onslaught of political
I listened, nodded, and ran like hell at the first break in the
Next, I headed to Back-to-School night for my middle son, Jack.
The school hypes this event as some kind of all-important affair
where the secrets of the universe are revealed to those in
attendance. In actuality, the entire thing is simply a half-mile
procession to pay school fees in exchange for revealing your kid's
new teacher and room number.
During the long wait to fork over my $100, the topic of the
teacher's strike was brought up (this was several hours before the
actual strike notice was in fact filed). I found myself sandwiched
between two moms with diametrically opposing views. As the dialogue
became heated, I ducked out of the fee line in favor of the Spirit
Wear line (a table hawking school sweatpants and gym shorts for
about $300 a pair). What were the chances of these rabble rousers
congregating over embroidered socks and headbands? The Spirit Wear
line, I told myself, was practically Switzerland.
My taste for civic debate died long ago. As a mother, most of my
confrontational energy is spent arguing with kids over cleaning
their rooms, turning off the television, and taking out the
garbage. Whatever oomph remains is then used to diffuse my
husband's request to buy a deep-fryer or go on a trip to the Grand
Canyon (did he NOT see that "Brady Bunch" episode where Bobby and
Cindy got lost for like YEARS??).
This does not mean that I am devoid of passionate views. There
are specific issues I hold sacred. But I have neither the heart nor
desire to share them, explain them, or defend them to just anyone.
I will not post them Facebook. There will be no Tweets. My blog
will never offer a commentary on a single one. It took me many
years to accept that most people's political views come from a
decent and good place, even if they are in stark contrast to my
own. It took me even longer to realize that debate and argument
rarely convince anyone to suddenly switch convictions or
We are who we are. We support what we support. For the most
part, it does not make us villains or heroes. It simply makes us
individuals with our own perspectives, life experiences, and
I remember my sister-in-law telling me once about a little boy
she knew. He had autism and sensory issues that left him desiring a
very specific amount of personal space. Over the course of time,
the boy became tired of constantly defending the "zone" he needed
to feel defined. In a creative stroke of genius, the child started
carrying around a hula hoop. When the world became too
confrontational and overwhelming, he put himself in the middle of
the hula hoop which let everyone know he didn't want to fight
anymore. He just wanted to be.
Sometimes I wish I had such a hula hoop.
Marianne is mother of three sons and the wife of a southside Irish fireman. She has learned that sometimes you're just too dumb to know what makes you happy. She blogs regularly at We Band of Mothers (webandofmothers.com) and curses with even greater frequency. Her material is written for the imperfect, the imprudent, and the impatient mothers who know that all this stuff is really very funny if you just give it a minute.
See more of Marianne's stories here.
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