the bed-sharing weirdos and other dangerous people like me

A friend shared the article on Facebook. It was about me, and how I’m irresponsible and dangerous and possibly a smidge un-American. How I make bad choices. Isn’t it crazy, how someone could be as crazy as me? A bunch of people agreed, in the comments underneath. Under the article itself, back on its host site, a fierce, self-important debate raged. “Anyone who acts like this is an idiot and should have their citizenship taken away. We don’t need people like you in this country,” announced “ArmyMom” from North Carolina.

“If you met me, you might not think that,” I wanted to say. I always want to say that and I never do.

It wasn’t the first time an article like that has been written and shared. And of course they’re not really about me, individually (although this has actually happened once or twice, too! But usually on someone’s blog, not, like, in New York Mag). They’re about people like me. Weird people who do weird things. A representative from the League of Normal People has to come along and write a chastising explanation about why we are bad.

Sometimes it leans towards tough love: “I know you think you’re doing yourself a favor now, but you’ve got another big, loud, smack-in-the-ass think coming REAL SOON, honey.”

Sometimes it’s sneering: “What is WRONG with these people? Do they have any contact with reality? Um, hello. Reality is over here, weirdos, with the normal people. Get over yourselves and maybe we’ll consider one day sharing our cold, hard, real-American pizza with you.”

Sometimes it’s scientific: “Recent Conclusive Statistics show that your weird behavior is more likely than our normal behavior to result in death and lower SAT scores and also bad breath.”

Sometimes it’s defensive: “APPARENTLY, according to the weirdos, we’re SUPPOSED to do this crazy thing…And I felt pressure from the weirdos to think about my life differently. But then I decided not to, because that was too hard and weird, so I’m doing the normal thing but I’m mad at the weirdos for even suggesting that there is another way to do it!”

I am amazed by the volume of articles in this last category. I see them everywhere. People proudly defending their right to do the totally expected, ordinary thing against the imagined onslaught of opinionated weirdness.

But where are all the opinionated weirdos? I wonder. I glance around hopefully. Anyone? Hello? Where are the influential, popularizing weirdos who are marching at the front lines, waving their banners and demanding that everyone follow suit?

madrid_may_day375

(source)

 

There are a couple, sure, I guess. But mostly, people doing something really different seem to keep pretty quiet about it. I know I do. Because it’s uncomfortable, in mixed company, in most company, to be the eternal other. Or even when it’s perfectly comfortable, it’s awkward to get into a whole discussion about it.  You worry about sounding confrontational, even when you’re just stating facts about your life. You worry that your weirdness might come off as threatening. So you throw it out there like litter from a car window and you hit the gas and keep moving. “Yeah, I had a home birth, but whatever! To each her own type of birth! GOD, I’m glad it’s finally spring. What a friggin’ winter, right?”

There are many pieces of my life that make me alternative and strange and threatening. Some I chose, some my parents chose for me, some I was born into.

I am weird now, as a parent, in so many of the ways that people like to get worked up about. People like to mention moms like me in their articles about how they got an epidural (thank god!) despite the preaching of the supposed “sanctimommies” who had natural births just to prove that they’re stronger and better than everyone else. I am a huge wimp and I think all of my friends are stronger than me and I had a home birth. I plan on doing it again. And what of the breastfeeding Nazis? (I cringe at any usage of the word that doesn’t refer to actual Nazis who slaughtered real people instead of just annoying them.) I am big on breastfeeding and not planning on weaning any time soon. I do it because it feels right in this gently obvious way that gives me refreshing relief in the absence of stumbling around uncertainly until I wander into some sort of reasonable-sounding answer. I don’t have to ask. I’m already sure. Much to the disapproval of the baby books and pediatricians, my baby sleeps in bed with me. That too feels happily simple. Universal, even if it isn’t trendy in America right now. So I am more likely than everyone else, according to some but of course not all recent studies, to kill my child. Or spoil her. Or both! Yet another free-roaming, wild hippie baby in Brooklyn, literally spoiled to death.

diy-flower-crown7

(a DIY flower crown! not that anyone else was going to DI for Y, but still! yes! source)

I even made an effort to use cloth diapers at first.

“I’m not really a hippie,” I told a mom I’d just met, apologizing after being forced to reveal incriminating details about my weirdness. What I really meant was, “You’re getting an incomplete picture. If you heard other details, you’d think something else of me entirely.” (Isn’t this always the case?) What I really meant was: “I am not trying to do these things for the sake of being anything. I’m just figuring it out as I go.”

“You sound like a hippie,” she said.

I laughed uneasily. Her words stayed stuck in my head for days. For weeks. Had she been teasing me when she said it? Probably. It was probably good-natured. But maybe she felt superior? Had she catalogued me in her head, slotted beneath the “weird” tab? Would she listen to more of the story?

My favorite foods are cheap New York pizza and 5 Guys bacon cheeseburgers. I love superhero movies and Agatha Christie novels and I watched a lot of Burn Notice while pregnant and sick. I watched a lot of White Collar while breastfeeding a newborn. I’ve watched a lot of similar TV without a good excuse at all, just because I like it. I went to a state school for college and I worked the whole time. I try to make a good impression on people but sometimes feel awkward. I am friendly. I can’t run a mile to save my life. I haven’t seen very much of the world and I really want to one day. I tend to like people. I am trying to be more confident.

Burn-notice-sam

(but Sam is my favorite character…does that make me weird? source)

The weirdest part of being weird is discovering, bit by bit, year after year, in so many tiny, subtle ways and so many huge, plain ones that I am actually boringly, surprisingly, obviously normal.

We all know, in one way or another, what it’s like to feel like the odd one out. We become a “woman in tech” or stay single longer than most of our friends or marry our high school sweetheart when everyone we know is staying single. We are the only vegetarian or the only one still eating whatever we want in a sea of careful, restricted diets. We don’t have a degree. We have three degrees and are doing something that has nothing to do with any of them. We don’t have sex until we fall in love. We have experimental sex for pure fun in an abstinence-only environment. We decide never to have a child and are pleased with that decision. We want to have a huge family in a time when birthrates are declining and the word “selfish” is lobbed at people juggling three or more kids. We have a BMI that other people feel entitled to judge harshly and vocally. We are gay. We quit a stable, boring job to have an awesome adventure. We work at a stable, boring job every single day because we need the money, even though we are always reading about how important it is to pursue personal happiness at all costs and be creative and take risks and distinguish ourselves spectacularly. We are married to a stay-at-home dad. We are a stay-at-home dad. We are born into something that strikes people as “alternative,” like an unexpected combination of cultures and ethnicities. Like the way we look compared with the way we talk. Like our job compared to a stereotype of kind of work “someone like us” tends to have.

I didn’t go to school, growing up. I am Jewish. I am mostly proud of who I am and what I do.

We are all weird in many ways, we are all normal in many other ways. So much so that the weird/normal dichotomy begins to sag under its combined weight, and little tears appear in the fabric. But when we do or are or try some of these relatively rarer things, and other alternative things I haven’t mentioned, we will inevitably notice an article, shared on Facebook, about us. Especially if we are choosing to do something most people wouldn’t.

What’s interesting to me is that there isn’t really a contest. Not enough people homeschool to truly undermine the school system, even if this practice were actually undermining anything. There aren’t enough women in tech to restructure the dominant maleness of the field. There aren’t enough stay-at-home dads to rewrite the common story about work and fatherhood. Not enough (American) women have home births to make it the looming, inevitable second option, after going to a hospital. Not enough of us do the weird stuff in strong enough numbers to make these choices statistically equal to the more typical, familiar paths they get endlessly pitted against. This is not a battle between two similarly sized armies. This isn’t a battle at all. It’s just the world, where sometimes some people decide to do things differently, or can luckily afford to do things differently, or make big sacrifices to do things differently, or just experiment briefly with doing things differently. Where people are always, always a little bit different from one another. It’s OK.

So if you find that you are threatened by the idea of rogue difference, and imagine that there really are breastfeeding Nazis who are currently hating you forever for feeding your baby a bottle, then maybe you should take the time to talk to a weirdo like me. I’ll probably be friendly. We might even hit it off. I promise, I will not yell at you to be just like me. That would be weird.

*  *  *

What makes you weird?

Unroast: Today I love the way my hair curls loosely. It always looks distracted.

Speaking of birth, I wrote this piece for the Sydney Morning Herald’s Daily Life, about how I feel about hiring a birth photographer.

 

39 Responses to “the bed-sharing weirdos and other dangerous people like me”

  1. April responded on 16 Apr 2014 at 10:14 am #

    Well I’m definitely one of those people working a job just for the money, wishing I could follow my dreams. The thing is, I don’t have the slightest idea what I actually want to do in life. I have a degree in Ecology, which is going completely unused while I work my office job. I would love to be a stay-at-home wife, which I was once while living in the middle of nowhere when I moved in with my husband. It was nice. And I’d be even more productive now that I actually have hobbies I’d love to do. Sigh.

    I never thought you were un-American or someone so weird that they shouldn’t act the way they do and talk about it. It’s not even like you boast and tell people that’s how they should be, too. You’re just weird like everyone is weird. I find it strange for the small fraction of people that are considered “normal,” the other vast majority of people are all considered “weird.” Make sense?

    I gotta run to my office job now. Always be proud of who you are!

  2. Ellie Mad responded on 16 Apr 2014 at 10:21 am #

    I too was homeschooled, had a homebirth, breastfeed (and plan on continuing until Dear Baby decides she’s done), and do other out-of-the-box things. I make people uncomfortable. I feel like these decisions have been best for my family until I read one of those articles on Facebook. They make me second guess everything and not want to talk to society for fear of being judged. This post was exactly what I needed today. Thank you for writing it. Today I am confident with my alternative lifestyle and have faith that there are other “weirdos” like me out there. I will keep living out loud so that I can meet them. If you ever decide to adventure to Wisconsin hit me up. Our daughters can play together in a circle of no judgments.

  3. Alicia responded on 16 Apr 2014 at 11:01 am #

    You really hit it on the head with this. I’ve had to stop reading those articles, no one needs that in their life, why so defensive people? Why are you so angry? I’m weird too, but I find myself being very quiet and guarded with my weirdness. I hate that people immediately put you in a category, so I try not to be obvious about the fact that I still nurse my 2 1/2 year old. I just remove myself from the conversation when people want to commiserate about sleep or lack-there-of with babies and children. My oldest has always struggled with sleep, he doesn’t like to go to sleep by himself. He can, but he doesn’t like it. So snuggling in bed with him for 20 minutes while reading blogs on my phone is how I get my 4 year old to go to sleep at night. I’ve had friends say, “You shouldn’t have to do that, he should go to bed on his own.”
    and about my 2 year old, “I can’t believe you still nurse him when he wakes up at night, he should be sleeping 12 hours straight.”

    I despise that word, “should”, and I really don’t like it when people use it when talking about my children. I LOVE snuggling with my four year old at the end of the day. He puts his hands on my cheeks and looks me in the eyes and tells me how much he loves me, and how happy he is to lay with me. How could this be a bad thing?!

    I don’t want advice, I don’t want to be told I’m weird, so I’ve found that I just need to shut up about it. Which sucks. I don’t like feeling like there are certain very general topics I can and can’t talk about.

    Love your writing by the way, and it’s fun to hear about your perspective on motherhood.

  4. Ashley responded on 16 Apr 2014 at 11:54 am #

    I am weird, and I like it because it makes me different from everyone else. I don’t want to be just like everyone else.

  5. Isadora responded on 16 Apr 2014 at 1:10 pm #

    “If you’re weird, you’re normal. If you’re normal, you’re weird.”
    And the ones who try to be the most “normal” and suppress all weirdness are totally counter-productive; they stick out as being “weird” for caring so much about what strangers do with their lives.

    And if you’re an idiot, can I be one when I grow up?

  6. Britta responded on 16 Apr 2014 at 1:47 pm #

    I am weird, but I do it quietly: I am single, basically nearly 40 and never wanted children, so I am completely happy about my childless life. I’m a feminist which I rarely mention, because it just causes akwardness all around. I try to lead by example and just be me, do the things I find right: if others pick up on that, fine, if they don’t, that’s also fine. I think we must all try and live authentic lives: authentic for ourselves, because that will most likely make us happy, fulfilled and attractive to others. Following your heart and your gut (and using a little of your brain) creates good energy because you are being authentic in your actions. Stay away from the trolls and the people who are judgmental.

  7. Raia responded on 16 Apr 2014 at 2:41 pm #

    This post really resonated with me too! All the things parents and women are told we “should” do and be, ugh. I am also weird in my own way. I am a female mechanical engineer. I had a homebirth, breastfeed my daughter until we were done (2.5 years), cloth diapered, and she still sleeps in our bed. Do I think these things are for everyone? No. It’s what worked best for me and my family. I try not to care what other people think, but in those new-parent days especially, it’s tough. I have a very distinct memory of going to a to a new mother’s support group and hearing the others talk about about they would *never* sleep with their babies, how dangerous it was, etc. And when someone asked how I get my baby to sleep, I said nurse her, and their reply was they would never do that! I didn’t try to convince them to do otherwise, and quietly really started to question my own decisions, but also didn’t go back to that support group.

  8. Annie responded on 16 Apr 2014 at 3:34 pm #

    Your challenge at the end to communicate with someone different is spot on.
    Much like your “I had a home birth oh look at the weather” comment, whenever I have to tell someone I’m vegan (because they offer me a hamburger at a cookout, tell me there’s cake in the fridge at work, etc) it’s the same scenario. Because if I don’t misdirect, it’s suddenly a Big Deal, even when I don’t say it like it’s a Big Deal.
    Which irked me. For a long time.
    Then I realized (through observation and people flat out telling me), the person I thought was judging me was actually defending themselves from a perceived (but unreal) judgement. By ordering the chicken taco while at lunch with me (vegetable fajitas, please, hold the sour cream), the difference in our orders were noticeable – particularly to those who are aware of the (social, political, environmental) problems with America’s meat industry.
    Yes, by becoming a vegan I made a judgement call. But that judgement was on and for myself. If you eat meat, you eat meat. I don’t judge you. Don’t judge me.
    If we all communicated that to one another, maybe we’d all be one step closer to something like Understanding.
    And I know there are a lot of vegans (and home birthers and stay at home dads and what have you) that DO attack and judge others. But maybe they’re doing it defensively as well?
    Who knows to that last part, I can only speak for myself.
    And I would love to continue to speak for myself, to people who are different but willing to listen. Just as I hope they will continue to speak for themselves to me.

  9. Barbara responded on 16 Apr 2014 at 4:56 pm #

    I love so many things about this post. I also bristle at the word “should.” And the casual use of the word Nazi. I love this paragraph: “This isn’t a battle at all. It’s just the world, where sometimes some people decide to do things differently, or can luckily afford to do things differently, or make big sacrifices to do things differently, or just experiment briefly with doing things differently.” I wish people would have the grace to be curious without being judgmental. Nice post, Kate! :)

  10. Mandy responded on 16 Apr 2014 at 5:09 pm #

    When I was growing up, if a family member called another “weird,” it was considered a huge compliment! I’ve never been afraid of that word, and if someone calls me weird, I smile and say thank you.
    My husband agrees with me: this Christmas, he got me a little framed tile that said:
    “We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness–and call it love–true love.” –Robert Fulghum

    It’s one of my favorite gifts from him, ever.

    PS: I, too, enjoy Bruce Campbell’s acting. He also wrote a book entitled: “if Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor.” In one of the chapters, he discusses gifts that some of his fans have given him. One of the items he mentioned them made me laugh so hard I literally had to sit down. My husband heard me from across the store, and came over to find out what was so funny. But, to get the joke, you had to have watched his movie “Army of Darkness.”

  11. daphne responded on 16 Apr 2014 at 7:48 pm #

    I guess I’m weird because I was married to a man, but then I got divorced and was with a woman for seven years, but then I went back to the man I initially married and am going to marry him again. Is that weird? I’m happy, and I have no need to label any of this except to say it’s my own path and it’s made me who I am (and I’m proud of that!)

  12. Sage responded on 17 Apr 2014 at 12:09 am #

    I have a one year old whom I breastfeed, a lot. We sleep in the same bed and I spend much of my time carrying her around because she likes that. I almost had a homebirth but then tranfserred to the hospital after 33 hours because the pain was too crazy and I wanted DRUGS, NOW. We cloth diapered for awhile and then I got lazy. I’m kinda a hippie but mostly I’m just me and that’s fine. Good for you for doing what feels right and works for your family!

  13. CorinaMarie responded on 17 Apr 2014 at 12:10 am #

    I love this so much. At my house we embrace weird. I’m the weird, funny mom who doesn’t care if her kids swear (as long as they aren’t swearing with cruelty) and who giggles at completely inappropriate things and who walks in for. Work singing about how it’s ‘happy happy pajama time’ because I’m delighted to be DONE with the work day. My kids tell penis jokes in front of me (my oldest kids are college age and my youngest is 13 – it’s not a group of 8 year olds doing that). I am the one told to turn down the loud music in our house. We are a houseful of (mostly) joyous lunatics. I interact with my kids as if we are friends, and that includes telling them what they need to hear, even if they don’t want to hear it. I am the weird mom who allowed her kids to sleep in her bed any time they needed to. No one died. They all sleep in their own beds now and no one’s ruined for life over it. We LOVE weird at our house. I’ve taught my kids to be open to strangeness and identify with oddity and I think they are good people because of it.

  14. CorinaMarie responded on 17 Apr 2014 at 12:10 am #

    *walks in from work

  15. Katie responded on 17 Apr 2014 at 12:50 am #

    Just when I thought I couldn’t love you anymore! Such a well formed post.

    Somehow I ended up being the resident “hippie” at work and I’m not sure how I feel about it. I get called out at meetings for drinking water out of a mason jar…my boss asks me about my wooden biodegradable utensils I use every day for lunch..they ask me why I’m a vegetarian…why I eat chia pudding for breakfast and say “what’s so wrong with a breakfast burrito?!”…they wonder at my critiquing of words we use on our intake forms to designate gender and relationship status….all of these things that are just ME. I’m not playing a part in a movie. I will sometimes make light of it, “well, what do you expect? I drive a Prius..hardyhar.” Sometimes I pull out facts about factory farming or I teach them all about intersex newborns. In my head I’m thinking “did you grow up under a rock?!” I never really know what they want when they bring my differentness up. Just to know whether I’m a threat? Yeah, it’s intriguing, to be a hippie in the military. So what.

    I just like to think I’m planting seeds and maybe one day all us weirdo hippies will be recognized for the normal, boring, regular people we are.

  16. angela responded on 17 Apr 2014 at 7:48 am #

    A friend told me tonight ‘we all feel like frauds’ and its’s true; i think we all feel a little freakish inside our own heads no matter what kind of normal we wear on the outside. I found this post very comforting. Thank you. Loved the sydney herald article too – you kissed the shadow – admitting to the great female fear of pooping and birthing. This makes you a brilliantly honest human. And being. Don’t stop.

  17. Lynn responded on 17 Apr 2014 at 7:50 am #

    Excellent Post! Thank you :)

  18. Casey responded on 17 Apr 2014 at 8:49 am #

    I am weird because I have always, always wanted to be a mother and never, never wanted a career. I remember standing in front of the full length mirror in my bedroom as a child with the door locked and putting my pom poms under my shirt to see what I’d look like pregnant. I feel weird because a career never was as important to me. I wrestle with this on occasion. My friends have degrees and I do not. Does this make me less?

    If it’s weird, it’s weird. I’m going with it. Being a mother, making this house our home is what makes me happy. If I worked, I would miss it terribly. It’s all small things– sitting on our front steps when my kids come bounding off the bus, meals taken together at the table fixed in my little kitchen, towels that smell good. It’s all small but it’s all me and that feels pretty big.

  19. Kate responded on 17 Apr 2014 at 9:23 am #

    @Casey
    Awesome. I love your confidence. This seems like a brave thing to express in a time when there’s so much pressure to have a career. But what a wonderful, achievable, important thing to want. I’m so happy for you!

  20. Olivia responded on 17 Apr 2014 at 2:03 pm #

    My husband and I are weird in many ways (e.g., he was a stay at home dad, we go to comic book conventions, we don’t talk badly about each other to other people, etc.). I used to feel compelled to provide an explanation in regard to my/our weirdness, but I discovered that when you own it and mean it, people back off. It’s like there’s some rule, that I’m not aware of, that says when someone doesn’t fit into your version of normal, you get to harass them until they breakdown. I find however that when confronted with such a person, a simple “yeah so what?” completely baffles them. It’s gotten to the point now that it’s fun to be called out for weirdness just so I can go “I know I am but what are you” off on them.

  21. Kande responded on 17 Apr 2014 at 2:32 pm #

    When you see my kids at school, it is ridiculously obvious what parenting choices I made. Oh wait, no it isn’t. Other than my choices to teach them to have self-esteem without haughtiness, to choose kindess over popularity, and to admire rather than be embarrassed by the things that make them different. Whether or not they breastfed, co-slept or used cloth diapers? Not so much. Keep having confidence in making the choices you want to make, while paying more attention to the choices that shape her character and less to the ones that have shaped other people ;)

  22. Angela responded on 17 Apr 2014 at 5:57 pm #

    Really enjoyed this post, thank you Kate.

    I’m learning to ignore the labels to all the things I do/enjoy/prefer/feel etc. Sometimes I can’t figure out what defines ‘weird’ and what defines ‘normal’ to even divide bits of me into each label.
    I study History and it gives me a great context – norms change from one extreme to the next, so I feel whatever the norm is now, whatever norm I’m not conforming to, will soon be considered weird.

  23. Jessica responded on 18 Apr 2014 at 12:32 am #

    Everyone is ‘weird’ when you get to know them, that’s what makes each individual special. How people respond to differences in others is a reflection only of themselves and not of the person they are judging. I truly believe people who judge others harshly are unhappy or ashamed about something in their own lives. I’ve never met a truly happy, content and confident person who had any negative things to say about another person. When you are truly happy and at peace with yourself these thoughts do not occur to you let alone get verbalised. Kate you are a wonderful mother and writer who is doing her best and your best is always enough I say.

  24. Jen responded on 18 Apr 2014 at 5:18 am #

    I’m weird in so many ways, I can be awkward. I am raising my son very similarly to the way you talk about raising Eden. I’m trying to find my confidence in raising my child in a way that is different to the mainstream – I am learning not to justify myself so much.

  25. Sarah Johnson responded on 18 Apr 2014 at 1:28 pm #

    I just finished your book, happy tears dripping off my cheeks. Thank you so much for sharing, I had two c-sections and will always feel cheated by the medical nature of their births..but getting to live vicariously through other women when they tell their stories..is a balm.

  26. Alpana Trivedi responded on 19 Apr 2014 at 3:59 am #

    I feel like this is my story. Let’s see, what makes me weird? Everything. I’m a walking contradiction. I’m a control freak, but I don’t take on too much responsibility. I want to learn to do many things, but my favorite thing to do is sit down with a cup of coffee and have lots of conversations. I’ve been called an old soul, but a lot of my knowledge comes from books I read, rather than from life experience. I hate conforming and love self-expression, yet somehow I’ve survived six years in the Navy.

    Kate, I love your blog. I love how you say out loud what people are probably wondering about in their everyday lives.

  27. Michelle responded on 19 Apr 2014 at 12:34 pm #

    I co-sleep too and the funny thing is whenever someone asks where my son sleeps and I say he just sleeps with us they all admit to it too! They say they tried to do the “right thing” but co-sleeping ended up being much easier and made everyone happier. Whenever I feel self conscious about it I think about how common it is in other countries like Japan, and they are all doing fine. There is a lot of pressure to adhere to our cultures norms sometimes.

  28. Tobasco responded on 19 Apr 2014 at 11:07 pm #

    Oh girl, don’t even get me started. Whenever I talk to new parents, or about to be parents, this is the advice I give them. You are not going to be the parent you thought you would be. Because your child is going to have a personality of their own, and needs you may not have anticipated. Do what works to make your family thrive. What works today may not work tomorrow. What works for someone else may not work for you.

    I love what another poster said about being your authentic self. I am a mish mash of things, and when I was young it bothered me that I didn’t fit I to a category. But now I like it. I’m surprising. I’m interesting. I’m always open to trying things. If I do t like it well, now I know. I remember a conversation I had with another set of parents at preschool pickup. The mom and I generally discuss makeup, jewelry, our latest boot camp workout and so on. But when I mentioned I was excited for opening day of fishing season you should have seen her face, and her husband immediately joined in the conversation. Yes I like makeup but I also like to get dirty. I do the yard work, I go fishing, I love to go trail running.

    I also agree with what someone else said about people defending themselves. I am sort of a vegetarian, although I hate using that word. I just personally don’t enjoy eating meat. I truly do not care if you order a steak. I’m way more concerned with my own meal thank you very much. It gets tiring when new friends apologize for eating a burger, or worse yet go ON AND ON about how I’m missing out. Can I please enjoy my food without pressure? Because I really do love food. Eating is one of the best parts of my day.

    Finally, I never understand why people do the whole “this is America! And in America we do x!” Isn’t the one thing that makes America great our freedom of expression? If you’re so proud to be an American, then you should be absolutely thrilled that we can be different and not be persecuted.

  29. Emily responded on 20 Apr 2014 at 2:16 am #

    I have donated my eggs multiple times.

    I am married and 24 and enjoy a very wide range of recreational drugs. My husband is an extremely tall Korean man with an extremely Christian, and conservative family (we got married shortly after meeting).

    My brother once got drunk and hit on me. We are not of the redneck variety (I have a Master’s degree!)

  30. Jaime responded on 20 Apr 2014 at 11:49 am #

    I just found you and oh my god I love you!

  31. Kate responded on 22 Apr 2014 at 9:20 pm #

    I love this post! I think when we first meet someone, or even just observe someone new from afar, we have this need to put them in a box. We look at what they wear, drive, eat, a few casual comments, etc., and decide “this is one of those rednecks/hippies/soccer moms/rich jerks/whatevers.” But once you actually KNOW a person, it turns out nobody actually fits into those categories. People are way more complex than our little categories can account for. And usually we only see a few factets–only with family and close friends do we get a fuller picture.

    I slept with my son too when he was a baby, until it stopped working for both of us. He’s 2 1/2 now and still nurses 1-2 times a day. I rarely mention this fact to anyone, and when it comes up I feel a little like I’m confessing something. This happened at my book club last month. “You aren’t still nursing him are you?” Pause. “Yes, actually. But only a little. Like just at bedtime.” And then later I kick myself. Because I’m not ashamed of this. Not at all. But I think people are surprised. I’m a lawyer who represents corporations. “Hippie” mothering choices maybe don’t fit the box others have put me in.

  32. What I’ve Been Reading | Make-Up & Mirtazapine responded on 22 Apr 2014 at 10:18 pm #

    [...] Kate talks about feeling like the odd one out in an internet full of people proudly defending their right to do the totally expected, ordinary thing against the imagined onslaught of opinionated weirdness - the bed-sharing weirdos and other dangerous people like me. [...]

  33. Kate responded on 23 Apr 2014 at 2:23 pm #

    @Ellie Mad
    I would LOVE to meet you and your daughter someday!

  34. Kate responded on 23 Apr 2014 at 2:27 pm #

    @Raia
    I’ve been around those conversations, too. And I didn’t say anything, and I wondered if I should, if it was somehow bad that I wasn’t speaking up. Sometimes I do, sometimes I just put my stuff out there. But it gets exhausting, to have to explain, especially in an environment where it’s not a friendly conversation, it’s four other moms who all clearly think I’m insane. Sometimes leaving the group is the best option– I’m glad you did that.

  35. Kate responded on 23 Apr 2014 at 2:32 pm #

    @Kate
    It’s funny, how the boxes always conflict, and yet we keep trying to apply them to each other. I love that you’re a corporate lawyer who breastfeeds a toddler. Take that, people desperately trying to apply stereotypes!

    And I know exactly what you’re describing– I do that too. I try to downplay it, and then I am annoyed at myself, because I know I’m not actually embarrassed or ashamed or even nervous about my choices. I feel good about them. I just feel the need to be careful in introducing them. Maybe because there is also this stereotype that I feel keenly aware of– the one of the radical, yelling, pushy all-natural mom. I have never met one quite like this (my own mother is actually the closest I know to a loud and proud attachment style mom, and she’s also really nice), and I’m beginning to wonder if she is the bogeyman of the mommy wars. But still. I am afraid of being mistaken for her, even for a couple minutes.

  36. Kate responded on 23 Apr 2014 at 2:33 pm #

    OK– i can’t respond to more comments– I just grabbed onto couple of them on the fly, but THANK YOU for the rest!! I enjoyed and appreciated every one of them, as they came in.

  37. shelley responded on 26 Apr 2014 at 2:47 am #

    you do what feels right, not what ‘other’ people tell you is right, that is the difference.

  38. Rosanne responded on 14 May 2014 at 3:21 pm #

    Three things:

    1. Awesome post.
    2. Love your un-roast, I will think of my loose curls as ‘distracted’ from now on.
    3. Emily’s comment at #29 cracked.me.up.

  39. Dawn responded on 20 May 2014 at 4:24 am #

    I find your weirdness refreshing.

    I homeschooled my kids (and wish it had been an option for me).

    After months of battling hyperemesis with each pregnancy, midwives delivered my babies at a charming little house that was not a hospital. When I brought them home 3 hours after their birth, they slept with me until they were finished…they all gravitated to their own beds and it happens so gradual and natural that you barely even notice.

    I also breastfed until they were finished. And now that they are grown, they thank me for that milk because they all look like sculpted Viking Warriors.

    I’m so thankful there are good, weird souls unafraid to simply do what feels so right…and I can’t for the life of me figure out what those voices mean when they say you’ll be sorry someday. Because my kids are all amazing adults now and the only thing I’m sorry about is that it went by so quickly. I’ve learned to recognize the sound of conventional folk as a type of white noise…buzzing in the background for the sake of those who can’t bear to be without it.