Monday, May 12, 2008

Fitting in...

In case you haven't noticed, I'm not great at fitting in. I'm just one of those people who was born noticeably less like everyone else.

I'm not like the working professional parents. I'm not your typical SAHM. I'm not fully organic. Not fully mainstream. I'm not a traditional church girl. I'm not extremely counter-culture either. I am a visitor in many social scenes, but an inhabitant of none.

I've been through the adolescent efforts to squash and cram myself into a personality that isn't mine but that fits into more social molds. It doesn't work. I'm either unconvincing or feel like I've betrayed myself in doing so.

As a result, I have learned to embrace my true self (it's still a work in progress, but you know what I mean...) And, I came to the conclusion a long, long time ago that the price of individuality (i.e. never fitting in) was one I was willing to pay to be who I am.

However, as a mom, I am starting to wonder if my choice is a fair one to my kids. I am noticing, for a variety of reasons, that I am just not like the other parents at school, at church, at playgroup, at wherever. And, I'm okay with that for myself. But, when I see how it is taking a toll on my girls I start to question my decisions.

Whether it be exclusion from birthday parties or just not fitting in at school, I am wondering if I am giving my kids the choice to fit in or not. Don't get me wrong, I think fitting in is HIGHLY overrated. But, should I let my girls make that choice for themselves? Should I reign myself in so I'm not always the mom who just isn't quite like the other moms? Should tattoos be covered and more "normal" clothes be worn? Should I try to act a little more like a chameleon where my kids are concerned? Is it fair to force my girls to be the "different" kids before they even get a chance to figure themselves out?

To be honest, I don't know.

I know that Kai is already different from the other kids. I know that the other day when her teacher said that she wished Kai could just "act like the other kids" I was furious. Because she isn't the other kids. She never will be. She is, undeniably, Kai. And that is why I love her. And I know that is what makes her special. And I know that being yourself is worth missing out on a few birthday parties.

I guess, for now, I'll trust my instincts and give them the freedom to be who they choose to be and hope and pray that they'll understand that a necessary element of being brought up that way is having a mom who is who she is. Even if she never fits in.

If all else fails, there's always lots and lots of therapy. In fact, maybe I'll start saving for that now...

7 comments:

Pennie said...

Wow. I'd be really mad if I found out that my child's teacher had said that. I can understand your predicament. When I was younger, I was teased a lot. I want my children to be popular. However, I don't want them to be mean to other kids. I want them to know that that is never what makes a person *cool,* and that God don't like ugly. As in *Ugly Inside,* lol... just to clear that up. My brother heard me say that once and said that God even loves the ugly people. Which is not what I meant at all. It's a tough line to decipher. (((HUGS AND PRAYERS)))

jen said...

yeah, she just meant, "why can't she act like all the other kids at nap time" but I think it is a sign of things to come. seems to me, people are always trying to force kids into a certain mold. I have a feeling, though, she's gonna be one of those kids who just don't budge! : )

Katie said...

That teacher should be fired. And, NO, you shouldn't try to conform for the sake of fitting in with other moms. I made a promise to myself, while I was pregnant with Char, that I would stop trying to "define" myself. Because defining myself was restricting and I was really just building myself into some sort of weird box. People in boxes are no fun. I don't want my kids or myself to live in a box.

juli Eddy said...

Being normal is entirely overrated and who is to say what normal is? Normal for people living in Africa is a lot different day to day then normal for us. Normal for women who drop off their children at a pricey day care is different then what is normal for a mom who drops her child off in a state day care in NYC. What is wrong is that we as people become so self involved that we believe that our normal should be everyone's. What we should learn to do is to think outside of our box and embrace everyone regardless period. What these people miss out on is the greatness from having a not so normal off the wall a little bit quirky friend and daughter. Being the mom of daughters and being anything but normal and being left out of many normal things because of judgements from normal people I can look back and say who cares? I like who I am I love who my girls are and we had fun and they aren't normal and I thank God for that.

jen said...

i so agree. thanks for making it possible for me to be so not normal. i cherish my memories of life in our often crazy and always memorable house!! i hope my girls do the same some day...

Sara said...

I just read this post (I'm stalking you!) to my husband and he said "I think she should encourage her kids to be unique as early as possible". We have two boys and we aren't ultra "normal" either and I don't really fit in at play groups, etc. either. Since my boys are only 1 & 2 1/2, I haven't seen how it effects them, yet. But I am hoping that they will try to be different and embrace being unique. I'm totally girl crushing on you, by the way - I woke up at 2 AM and couldn't get back to sleep, so I've been reading archives. You make me squee. (Where in the world did you find that teal colored clock?!)

jen said...

Thanks Sara! I've been thinking about this since I wrote that and I think everyone is right. Not fitting in is okay by me. Plus, I wouldn't know how to do it if I tried!

Glad you like my site! And the teal clock was an amazing find for $5 at a random Dollar General a couple years ago. You can find cool stuff in the most unlikely places!