Someone recently asked me if I ever have to deal with other moms judging me because I’m sort of known for being a bit weird and off-the-wall, and if so, did I worry that my being a little different would cause them to unfairly judge my child. My answer to that is Hell. To. The. Yes.
Unfortunately, I’ve had to deal with that on many occasions.
Way too many occasions to count, actually.
And if any of the uptight Judgy McBitchholes are reading this, I am sure they are totally judging me at this very moment. After all, I just used the word “hell” up in here, and in their world the word “hell” is probably not a word that a respectable mother would use.
What on earth will the neighbors say???
I can tell you with 100% honesty that I never ask myself that question.
Because I don’t give a flying fuck.
Yes. I just said “fuck.”
Nothing else seemed to capture the essence of just how totally and completely I don’t care what people like that think of me.
Was I always this way? No. Like most of us, I have definitely gone through stages in my life where I tried desperately to fit in.
I grew up going to a teeny-tiny little private school with kids that I had always known, and I was just totally myself because those kids were like family. With family you don’t really think about how you are; you just are. When I was in 6th grade, I left my private school bubble to go to public, where everyone and everything was different, and I suddenly felt an overwhelming need to fit in. I wanted to dress like everyone, have hair like everyone, talk like everyone, act like everyone, and be accepted like everyone.
That lasted for about a day.
When your mom forces you to get a perm-fro that “all the cool kids are wearing” and you end up being the new kid at school with the hairdo that nobody is wearing but the lunch ladies, then you know that the whole “fitting in” thing just isn’t gonna work out for you. It’s kinda hard to blend in with your peers when you’re a foot taller than everyone else and look like you lick light sockets for sport.
So what do you do? You either try to be someone you’re not, or you just say “fuck it” and start doing your own thing.
Then you meet other kids who’ve said “fuck it” and are doing their own thing.
Those are your people and you are happy with your people.
From then on out, I kept on doing and saying whatever weird stuff I wanted to, no matter what anyone else thought of me. Not only did I march to the beat of my own drummer, but my drummer was kind of a naked, bongo-playing, Matthew McConaughey type. None of that uniformed, marching-band kinda drummer for this gal.
Some people loved me and some people hated me. And that was alright with me, because I was just being myself.
Then one day, years later, I squeezed a screaming little person out of my in-between.
That’s when I went off the rails. Or got back on the rails. I guess it depends on your definition of rails.
If you’re a mother, then you know what happens when you have your first baby: You get a little cuckoo majuckoo.
I was totally and completely obsessed with being the perfect mom and making sure that my son became the perfect boy. Motherhood kinda throws you right back into that insecure teenage mentality where you want to do things like everyone else is doing them. Young mothers can be cliquey, which causes you to suddenly feel that need, once again, to fit in.
And for the first time in a long time, I really wanted to fit in.
I joined all of the Mommy and Me kind of classes so that I could meet other moms, and I tried to fit in and be perfect like them. I tried to wear what EVERYONE was wearing, carry the purse that EVERYONE was carrying, feed my family the foods that EVERYONE was eating, push the stroller that EVERYONE was pushing, and throw the awesome birthday parties that EVERYONE was throwing, all so that I would be accepted into The Sisterhood of Motherhood.
And ya know what?
It totally sucked.
Not only was I drained from the daily grind of being a mom, I was even more drained from trying to be just like everybody else.
Then one day, when my son was about 4, I took him to a McDonald’s play land and he got into a fight with another little boy in the dreaded tunnel of germs.
I was sitting at a cluster of tables with a bunch of the “popular” moms when he came to me crying and saying that a boy had hit him. Trying really hard to be calm and polite, I told him to go back into the tunnel and tell that kid that it isn’t nice to hit people and that he wanted to be friends. A few minutes later he came back to the table and told me that the kid had hit him again. I told him to try again, and the boy hit him again. At that point I asked the group of women at the tables which of them was the mother of the hitter, and when one woman happily claimed him, I asked her nicely if she would talk to him about the hitting. Her reply? “Boys will be boys.”
OK. Sure. And pissed off moms will be pissed off moms. So this pissed off mom told her boy that if that boy touched him again he should hit him, kick him, push him, do whatever he had to do, because that boy’s mom said that it’s OK.
That’s when all of the women at the tables let out a collective gasp and the mother of the hitter said that I had “problems.” I said, “No, I don’t have a problem. What I do have is a super sweet kid who is nice to everyone. Actually, you are the one who has a problem, and someday that problem will be bigger than you, so good luck with that.”
And then we left.
Unfortunately, all of my “friends” were upset that I had spoken my mind and stood up to that bitch. I knew that they wanted desperately to belong, but I honestly didn’t give a shit about fitting in anymore. I wasn’t 16 and this wasn’t some John Hughes movie. I don’t care if you’re “popular,” if you’re acting like a total asshole, I really don’t mind telling you so. And if your kid is acting like an asshole, I don’t mind my kid telling them so either.
This was a turning point for me.
I finally realized that if I loved my son, took care of him, and taught him to be true to (and stand up for) himself, then I was a good mom. Nothing else mattered. I didn’t need to belong to the pretty, popular group of moms. I also didn’t need any of those other moms to agree that I was a good mom, because I already knew. My husband knew. My little boy knew. Everyone else could fuck off.
After I dragged my ass out of the Stepford Motherhood, I started to speak my mind and be my spunky little self again.
I have been an independent thinker since birth. I was never afraid to go my own way or speak my own mind, and motherhood didn’t have to change that. Trying to fit in with the herd was making me a worse mother, not a better one, because it was teaching my son that it’s not OK to be yourself. It was teaching him that in order to be liked, you have to do what everyone else is doing. It was teaching him that you have to force yourself to fit in, even if you just naturally don’t.
Trying to force yourself to fit in really sucks.
It’s much more awesome to find the people who are gonna like you for you. It’s really freeing to just say what you think, do what you do, and not worry about people disliking you for it.
People are either gonna love you or hate you.
Obviously I know that there are some people who don’t like me.
Some people don’t like me because I make jokes about things they don’t think you should joke about (laughter makes everything better). There are people who don’t like me because I curse a lot (a-whole-fucking-lot). There are people who don’t like me because I have no filter (life’s too short for bullshit). There are people who don’t like me because I think that sometimes kids are assholes (by “sometimes” I mean “almost always”). There are people who don’t like me because I act a little goofy (it keeps me young). There are a ton of reasons that certain people don’t like me, but guess what? I don’t really mind if people don’t like me for those things, because those are my things and I’m proud of my things.
And that’s what I want to teach my son.
As long as you’re being true to yourself, it doesn’t matter.
If a few people don’t like who you are, that’s OK. Anyone who doesn’t like you for being yourself isn’t worth knowing anyway. You will find your people, and they will be people who like you for you and not for the things that you have or for the person that you are pretending to be. In the meantime, you have to be able to look at yourself in the mirror and be proud of who you see. You are with yourself 24/7 until the day you die, so it’s kind of important that you like yourself or shit can get old really fast. And who the hell wants to look at some stranger in the mirror until they’re 90?
Not this girl.
I want to look at the real me.