And what do you do?

From time to time the well mannered mother may find herself at dinner party seated next to a young woman.  This woman may be well educated, urban, well traveled and happy to talk about the differences between the vodka in Helsinki and Reykjavik through the entire soup course.  In fact, she may be happy to talk about just about any aspect of her colorful life and give you her opinion on an incredible range of topics.

At first, the well mannered modern mother is just happy to be sitting down for the first time all day.  But then it slowly begins to dawn on her that this Holly Golightly has failed to ask her a single question.  About anything.  At all.

 As she turns to the older gentleman on her right for the fish course she wonders "Do I seem so old and uninteresting that it has not occurred to this young woman that my opinions might be additive? Relevant? Should I start throwing in my own bio?  'Back when I lived in that walk up in Paris' or 'When my company went public...' (tacky)  Maybe I should torture her with stories of my adorable (ha!) children and school potlucks (painful).  Does she think she knows me because I have three children and live outside the city?  Or is this just an example of the over-praised, self-absorbed 'younger' generation?" 

 Perhaps at this point, the well mannered mother finds herself wondering which is worse: the sometimes sticky question of "What do you do?" or the presumption that you do nothing and have nothing to say? 

As the well mannered mother sits there conversing with the nice older man on her right she may begin think how far away his life seems from hers right now.  Retired, living by the water, going where he wants when he wants.  Wow.  Then it might hit her, to Miss Fancy Pants on her left the idea of being well, a well mannered modern mother probably seems about a billion zillion light years away.  Ah ha!  OK.  She gets it.  But in the meantime someone should really teach these kids some manners.


Anonymous said...

I think this kind of "mothers are invisible and boring" culture has been going on a long time. I remember watching an episode of "thirtysomething" in the 1980's where the mom was frustrated to be ignored at a dinner party, and as a teenager, I thought, "No way, not me - that will never happen to me!" And ha ha, now I am a "boring" at home mother, and thirty-something to boot.

Capability said...

I have been at that dinner party and and held both points of view (cannot say retired older gentleman POV will ever be mine). I am so sorry for any time I was unaware but have been paid back in spades!

Anonymous said...

I've met many young and old people, including mothers, who don't ask anything about you, content to talk about themselves or their interests.

Elizabeth Baxter Butcher said...

Dear Anonymous, I did not meant to suggest that mothers are any less self-absorbed than your average human. It would be wonderful if everyone could take the time to stop talking about him/herself long enough to get to know the people with whom he/she has been seated at dinner. Thanks for reading. EBB

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