It was kids and couples on Saturday night as the usual group of mothers I get together with during the week expanded into a family dinner outing. We met at the ancestral home of one of these mom-friends. The kids ran around the first floor, exploring nooks and crannies in the 200+ year old home, while we adults sampled the potluck fare and drank wine. At one point in the evening, it came up that one of the town librarians had been arrested on a marijauna possession charge. Information was sketchy, as it often is in a small town where people tsk first and find facts later, but it was enough to prompt me to assert my opinion on the matter.
"Marijauna should totally be legal." I wondered why I opened my mouth as soon as I said it. From my perch at the head of the oversized antique farmers' table, I had a unique perspective on the nine men and women looking at me as if I were crazy. The silence did not stretch out long before I felt compelled to fill it anyway. "I mean, I guess it's a gateway drug. Yeah, it is, but there are other..." I trailed off.
"You're having a conversation with yourself," one of the mother's observed wryly. They were all still staring.
I let out an awkward whoosh of a chortle. The unbroken communal gaze finally cracked as everyone joined in the laughter. I was grateful for the interjection into my own strange dialogue. "I do that a lot," I said. "I have arguments with myself. I like to look at both sides of an issue." With a wink, I pulled out the self-deprecation card I lay on the table before anyone starts to think I take myself seriously.
A brief conversation about recreational drug use followed, during which I learned nothing about anyone. I wondered how long I could go about getting to know these people, seeing many of them multiple times each week, without gaining any insight whatsoever into who they are as human beings. As mothers, I know them well. But, mothers? Let's just say I have one of my own, and that's plenty.
Friendships formed when offspring are the only apparent common denominator can stagnate like warm water in a wading pool if you let them. Right now I'm standing calf-deep and wondering how many children have leaked through their swim diaper today. I'm surrounded by other mothers, but I have no idea what they're thinking.