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.
Comments on In praise of the “Weird Moms”
I love this! I am an adult child of a Weird Mom. I didn’t appreciate the weirdness as a kid – I just wanted to be like everyone else, but now I really appreciate it. Growing up in late 80s and early 90s, I was the only kid in my class with any kind of dietary restriction (you’re a vegetarian? what do you eat?), my name references a Sanskrit word, and I was taken to various moonlight ceremonies on the beach. Not quite the same as art shows and Amanda Palmer concerts but certainly Weird for the time and cultural context. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
We’re an all-vegetarian family! SAME QUESTIONS. Hahaha!
So glad you had such a rad upbringing!
Awesome article that expresses a philosophy so few have courage to embrace!
Thank you for this powerful shout out to the non-trad moms. I’m afraid of becoming that normal mom, as I tend to be susceptible to the Kool-Aid of Normalcy when under routine stress. You’ve made it clear that it goes beyond myself – it’s about helping form an awesome person who knows no limits.
Thank you so much for this. I’ll keep to remind myself when I finally go down the road of mini-me production. 🙂
This! Sometimes I feel like it takes a lot of energy to be my authentic self and raise my kids with the kind of experiences that I want them to partake in. I’m definitely afraid of falling into a normal routine, but sometimes that’s the only way I can keep some sanity too… as long as I don’t die from boredom…
I’m going to be a weird mom. I won’t be able to help it. I’m a non-religious person in a very religious town. I play tabletop games, but not video games (though my boyfriend plays those when he has a rare bit of time). In the end, I’d rather teach my children to be accepting of differences, including their own, than teach them to fit in.
Totally the product of a weird-behind-the-scenes Mom… starting with the fact that she had me at age 33 in the early 80s, where the average age of first time mothers was 27. She also largely raised me by herself during a time where single parenthood wasn’t unheard of but was still largely frowned upon. She put into practice the idea of co-parenting with my grandparents in a multi-generational household long before anything besides “grandparent” in the aforementioned clause was really a recognizable term. She was sex-positive before it became a thing, encouraged all levels of nerdity and free-range parenting, and completely expected her kid to be offbeat. She was a big proponent of alternative schools and pro-active parenting for a special needs kid. However, she worked as an a corporate accountant in a 9-5, served on my high school’s board of directors and was highly involved in the PTA. She crocheted, used subdued makeup colors, and drove sensible used vehicles all her life. She LOOKED like your typical suburban mom — but wasn’t. And I loved that about her, and THAT’S the kind of Mom I expect to be — weird and a little undercover about it.
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