(I’ve shared this cartoon before, but I just love it).
Have you ever found yourself face-to-face with someone who is clearly making small talk to pass the time? This has happened to me a couple of times at holiday parties with people I hadn’t met before. They were people who clearly weren’t that interested in talking with me. I can say that confidently because they were both the type of people who constantly peek over your shoulder while talking to you, as they scan the crowd, looking for other people they know. They converse with you in a small talk way, that comes out as we-don’t-really-have-anything-to-discuss-but-let’s-pretend-we-do sort of context. I can sense within five seconds that I am the “filler” so that they don’t have to stand in the corner and look as if they have nobody to talk to.
In both instances, they asked me what I “do”. While I realize that this is a universal “get-to-know-you” question, sometimes your sixth sense tells you that the person doesn’t really care. Perhaps I’m sensitive as a stay-at-home-mom who is constantly analyzing my decision to stay home, because every time the conversation comes up I think to myself, “Do I really have to cover this again?”
I am dreaming that when this happens in the future, I will find it in me to give them a response that is so unexpected they won’t know what to do or say. I will deliver my response with Jim Carrey-like faces, gestures, and movements in such a fun and freeing way that hopefully I can let go of the endless irritation I feel when people like this try to engage in this type of conversation with me about a topic that frequently stresses me out.
Here is what I would say:
“Oh, that’s so nice of you to ask. Actually, I manage a shi#show. I’m the COO. We have myself, my husband, three kids, and a dog as part of our production. Let me tell you about our shi#show since you seem so genuinely interested. I’m very busy with all aspects of this operation, including cooking, cleaning, driving various members around, and doing errands to keep the show afloat. I plan our vacations, organize all holidays, and manage the social calendar for each member of the shi#show. Detail is my middle name, and I spend a shi#load of time making sure every “i” is dotted and every “t” is crossed to ensure my family runs as-close-to-perfectly-as-possible. Otherwise, it’s my ass on the line.
As COO, I try to take good care of myself. I can see you’re going to ask me now how I have time for the gym. A shit#show is very stressful to run. It requires patience and stamina, and my daily exercise is an important part of keeping this show going. Additionally, I hope to be the COO of my own shi#show for a very long time, so all of those hours spent at the gym are needed for longevity and good health. So the next time you think about making a snide remark about how I’m always in my yoga pants, please think twice.
Sometimes I stray from this plan. Sometimes I get into a shi#load of junk food and wine because I’m having a shi#ty time of it and I just need to chillax a bit. So if you see extra wine bottles in my recycling one week, don’t judge me. For the shi#show to keep running, this mama needs her vices.
Would you like me to tell you about some of my daily tasks? Cooking is something that takes a lot of my time. I try a shi#load of different meals for my family, who have a shi#load of requests, and the odds of them all liking something I make are about as good as winning Powerball.
Let’s talk laundry: I wash and fold a shi#load of it on a weekly basis. Once, I was out and about and pulled a dryer sheet out of my bra, a fun little souvenir for sure. Sometimes I have such bad static cling that I shock myself silly when opening my car door. This happens as I head out to do a shi#load of errands before picking up my kids at school in a long line of a shi#load of minivans just like mine.
In the line, I see a lot of other women who have chosen to stay home and manage a shi#show, just like me. I think to myself, These women are so beautiful and so powerful. Cheers to them. No two shi#shows are exactly alike. We are all so unique and special and bless each and every one of us for making it this far without winding up on a funny farm.
Managing my shi#show is far from glamorous. I don’t have a sticker chart, and I don’t earn prizes for the shi#load of things I do for my team on a daily basis While I know the members of our show love and appreciate me, I often take a shi#load of verbal berating nonetheless. Undoubtedly, anything that goes wrong, whether it’s lost homework or picking someone up at the wrong time, as the COO, I get all the blame. Wrong kind of cream cheese on the bagel? Forgot to wash the long underwear for skiing? Didn’t buy the dog food? Didn’t schedule the plumber? Never bought the present for the birthday party? All my fault of course. When these many flaws are exposed, my job performance is harshly criticized and the shi# really hits the fan. My job rating can go from stellar to shi#ty in a matter of thirty seconds around here. A friend of mine told me her very young son recently called her a “Dumb, stupid old lady” during a tirade, and let me tell you, that’s how I feel some days too. As you can see, life is not always all shi#s and giggles around here.
Do you see my car out there? No, it’s not The Mystery Machine even though it may look like it because it’s a sporty van. It’s the Shi#show Mobile. And when I’m done talking to you, which is now, I’m going to get into it and drive home to my dream job at 20 Shi#show Drive. It’s been great talking to you. When I don’t have another sure-to-fall-flat-on-its-face dinner to prepare, a shi#load of homework to help with, and dusting to do, (in my house coat of course), I’d love to hear more about you.
Until then, happy small talk, and perhaps we can catch up sometime between Days of Our Lives and As The World Turns.