As mothers who are different than many others, even while we celebrate the joy of our babies growing inside of us, we are gripped with a powerful fear: as we make the journey into motherhood, we start to consider whether or not it’s a descent. Will we morph into the Soccer Mom who lobbies with all their might to reach Tipper Gore-approved levels of censorship in art? Will a slow fog rumble over our lives, sucking out of us every last breath of creativity in our bones? These sorts of fears stop a great many women from procreation.
We’ve all seen it: tenacious and spectacular women — those whom Kerouac would call The Mad Ones — rounding their edges after their children were born, getting lost in chasing small beasts around with rags, and screaming their burning questions about the status of little hands; are they washed or not?!
Those of us who occupy the role of Weird Mom have a very difficult job cut out for us…
We bring our children to places that aren’t illegal, but are also not acceptable: art shows, concerts, festivals, gatherings, rituals. Places that enrich the lives of adults who are already mostly fully-formed. Why is there a possibility that children would not benefit from these humanities even more? There may be artistic nudity, recreational drug use, loud music, strange occurrences, and everything that makes life beautiful.
We give them bizarre names, teach them about cultures across the world, look at their upbringing as an anthropological experiment, see what makes them better. Showing them a glimpse of life not lived as “normal” is paramount. We give them the lives we’d imagine our favorite artists to have lived, even when most of them actually didn’t.
They have transgender aunts and drag king uncles, performer friends; they live in poetry readings and book lectures. They eat exotic foods and taste things before they’re “supposed” to (at least, according to the American Pediatrics Association). They listen to instruments most adults couldn’t identify by sound. They are schooled at home either in the beginning or for their whole lives.
They see breasts and penises splashed across canvases. Body hair becomes a normal sight rather than an abhorrent one. Radical self-love can be safely practiced. Injustice and sadness are explained to them, as conversations about the art they witness in their formative years.
This is all okay. This is all okay. This is all okay.
It doesn’t make us Awful Human Beings to expose our children to the beauty and pain people express through their art. It doesn’t ruin children to travel around the country numerous times. No children were harmed from learning to use a microscope before they learned to ride a bike or hit a ball. Boys don’t have to be confined to blue, and girls don’t have to be confined to pink. Here’s a secret: they don’t even have to be confined to “boy” or “girl.”
I tell you this for two reasons. First, because when I took my six month old baby Escher and my eight year old Dahlia to an Amanda Palmer concert, Amanda expressed to me that I gave her hope. She explained that she was glad she could see that we as mothers don’t have to lie down and die after we give birth. And second, because I know firsthand that it isn’t easy to be a Weird Mom. Kimya Dawson makes it look easy — but she makes everything look easy and that isn’t fair to those of us who weren’t born with Superhero status. So I’d like to give all the other Weird Moms this level of hope.
As the children of Weird Moms mature into adulthood, they will ask questions. They will ideally view each newly acquired bit of information as a glimpse into the past life of a rare gem. They can appreciate the knowledge that their mother was an interesting and gorgeous creature. It will be something they hold dear to their hearts, giving them a bolstered sense of what they can accomplish in their own life. Inspiration will reel through their bodies.
Every mom has a method. In such a seemingly thankless position, we the Weird Moms just appreciate getting our own (often scarce) applause too. If you encounter one of us, even smiling is an amazing gesture. If nothing else, smile at our children and know that we are trying our best to help them be open-minded, intelligent, interesting, and accepting humans that will benefit future generations.