Last week I got an email from a woman who wanted to know if I have ever had to deal with stick-up-the-butt moms judging me because I am so silly and off-the-wall, and if so, did I worry that my being different would make them unfairly judge my child.
My answer to that is Hell. To. The. Yes.
Yes. Yes. Yes.
I have 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 right now (which let's face it, they sooooo totally are, because the people who claim to hate you are always the ones that obsess over your every single move) I am sure they are now judging me because I used the word "hell" up in here and in their closed little minds the word "hell" is not a word that a respectable mother would use.
What will the neighbors say???
I can tell you with absolute 100% honesty that I do not ask myself that question.
Because I don't give a flying fuck.
Yes. I just said "fuck."
My usual "frick" just didn't seem to capture the essence of just how totally and completely zero I care about what people like that think of me.
Was I always this way? No. Like most of us I have gone through stages in my life where I wanted to fit in.
When I was in 6th grade and I left my cozy little private school to go to public, I suddenly felt the need to fit in and I wanted to dress like everyone, have hair like everyone, be accepted by everyone, look like everyone, and talk like everyone.
That lasted for about a day.
When your mom forces you to get a new hairdo that "all the cool kids are wearing" and you end up being the new kid at school who looks like this, then you know that the whole fitting in thing just isn't gonna work out for you:
So what do you do? You say "fuck it" and you start doing your own thing.
Then you meet kids who also said "fuck it" and are doing their own thing.
Those are your people and you are happy with your people.
I spent the next many years doing whatever the heck I wanted to do no matter what anyone else thought of me. You can ask my dad about that. He will totally back me up.
Then one day, years later, I squeezed a screaming little person out of my in-between.
That is when I went off the rails. Or back on the rails. I guess it depends on your definition of rails.
If you are a mother then you know what happens when you have your first baby: You get a little cuckoo majuckoo.
You want to do the right thing so bad that you sometimes overdo it. I was obsessed with being the perfect mom and making sure that The Boy became the perfect boy.
I read all the parenting books that told me all of the things that I had to do so that I wouldn't screw up my kid. I joined all the headachey mommy and me kinda classes and I met other moms and I tried to fit in and be perfect like them. I tried to wear what everyone was wearing and carry the purse that everyone was carrying and feed my family the foods that everyone was feeding their families and push the stroller that everyone was pushing and throw the awesome birthday parties that everyone was throwing for their kids and be accepted into The Sisterhood of Motherhood.
It took me awhile to let it all go. To realize that if I loved The Boy and took care of him then I was a good mom. End of story. Nothing else mattered. I didn't need every other mom in a 50-mile radius to agree that I was a good mom. I knew. The Hub knew. The Boy knew. Everyone else can fuck off.
Oops! I said it again.
After I dragged my ass out of the Stepford Motherhood I started to speak my mind and be my weird little self again.
One day when The Boy was about 4 I took him to a McDonalds playland and he got into a little scuffle with another boy in the dreaded tunnel of germs.
I was sitting at a cluster of tables with a bunch of other moms and The Boy came up to me crying and telling me that some kid was hitting him. I told him to go back into the germ 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 he did what I said and the kid hit him again. I told him to try again. He did. The kid hit him again. And he came to the table to tell me again. So I asked the women at the tables which of them was the mother of that kid. One woman said that she was, so I asked her if she would talk to him about hitting The Boy and she said "Boys will be boys." Okay. Sure. And pissed off moms will be pissed off moms. So this pissed off mom told The Boy to go back in the tunnel and if that kid touched him again he should hit him, kick him, push him, scratch him, do whatever he had to do because that boy's mom says it's ok for boys to do that.
So he did.
That's when all the women at the tables let out a collective gasp and that mother said I had problems and I said "No. Actually I don't. I have a super sweet kid who is nice to everyone. You are the one who has a problem, and some day that problem will be bigger than you. So good luck with that."
Even the women at the table who were my friends, were horrified with me. Actually I think they were more embarrassed that I had spoke my mind and stood up to a table-o-bitches, because they wanted to fit in with them. I didn't care about fitting in anymore. I wasn't 16 and trying to get in with the cool crowd like in some John Hughes movie. I'm not a mindless suck-up and I don't care about your Mercedes SUV and your million dollar house and your full time maid. If you're an asshole I really don't mind telling you so.
This was a turning point for me. It made me realize that I was still the person I had always been. I have been an independent thinker since birth (again, ask my parents) and I have never been afraid to go my own way or speak my mind and motherhood didn't have to change that. Trying to fit in with the herd was going to make me a worse mother, not a better one, because that would be teaching my son that it's not okay to be yourself. It would be teaching him that you have to do what the "popular" people are doing. It would be teaching him that you have to fit in.
Guess what? Fitting in sucks.
It's much more awesome to find the people who are gonna like you for you. It's freeing to just say what you think and do what you do and not worry about someone getting all butthurt about it.
I deal with this in my own neighborhood sometimes. I deal with this on my Facebook page too.
There are people who don't like me because I make jokes about something they might not think is funny. There are people who don't like me because I drop an "F" bomb now and then. There are people who don't like me because I talk about nonsense. There are people who don't like me because I talk about the joy of a good poop. There are people who don't like me because I say that sometimes kids are assholes. There are people who don't like me because I act immature or silly or weird. There are people who don't like me because I want gay people to be able to get married. There are people who don't like me because I want women to have the right to choose. And guess what? I don't really mind if people don't like me for those things. Because those are my things.
And that's what I want to teach The Boy.
That as long as you are being true to yourself, it doesn't matter.
If people don't like who you are, that's okay. 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 you have or for the person you are pretending to be. And 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.
End of story.