{Answer: Don’t talk about poop.}

I’m a mom. And while that means that I have definitely had my fair share of conversations that could be entitled “50 Shades of Poop,” I’m kind of over it. There’s only so much poop talk a mom can take! Replace poop with picky eater talk and bedtime strategies and I feel pretty much the same way.

It’s easy to fall into the trap. You see a mom at the park. Maybe you know her, maybe you don’t. But she has two kids in tow. Instantly, you have something in common.

Something like a tag cloud forms in your head. It includes terms like Cry it Out, Breastfeeding, Baby-Led Weaning, Birth, SAHM vs. WAHM, first words, choking hazards, tantrums. Before you know it, you’re entrenched in yet another conversation about—you guessed it—poop.

I’m pretty sure when we see another mom, the label Mom jumps into our heads and erases our ability to connect on a more personal level. It’s like the word Mom has subliminal stereotypes hidden in its one short syllable, and we interact with other mothers based on that word, that label, instead of based on who they are.

Think about it: before you had kids, when you met new people, did you immediately ask about the other members of their family? Did you ask them how many sisters and brothers they had, how often they ate a healthy dinner, what their bathroom habits were? I hope not. It’s hard to remember, but I think I asked things about where they worked, where they hung out around town, and –oh, they went on a sweet vacation last year?

I don’t get that vibrant, personal information from other moms anymore. Not because they’re not willing to offer it, but I think they have temporarily wiped it from their short-term memory in favor of what they DO spend their time on 89% of the day, which is, well, poop.

How refreshing would it be if, next time a new mom came up to you, she asked you how you and your husband met, or where you got those awesome shoes? What if she asked you what you were like in 8th grade? Or what if she asked you what book you were reading?

Um, what a weirdo.

But what if we lived in a society where it was ok—encouraged, even—for moms to ask these questions about subjects that have to do with things other than poop? Well, then it wouldn’t be weird anymore, would it?

So, right—you’re probably not going to go asking that new mom at the park her deepest, darkest secrets. But maybe next time you’re having a playdate with the mom you HAVE been hanging out with lately, switch on Pandora and ask about her favorite bands. Pull up Pinterest and drool over the glitter nail polish. Ask her to describe her dream vacation.

And poof! Just like that, you’re not a stereotype anymore. You’re living, breathing people forging a true friendship. Never again will you contemplate the color of a turd.

How to make friends at the park