I accept that I live within an insane culture, but I refuse to assimilate. Excommunication, however, leaves me wanting.
My story, briefly
I realized at a young age that I did not fit in. I was born to an unconventional teenaged, drug-addicted mother and a feral, forest-dwelling father. It was the Seventies--think wraparound skirts, bell-bottoms, The Mamas and the Papas. My mom named me after a sad Bob Dylan song. Although my young parents were loving, well-intentioned people from broken, abusive families, bad things happened.
I've never really known what it feels like to belong within mainstream culture. I didn't have a pink childhood bedroom. Mine had drug paraphernalia in it and I was regularly robbed of my treasures by my mom's "friends." I rarely attended the same school for longer than a year. We were on the run from my first step-dad throughout much of my childhood. Still am, really. (It's all in my memoirs, everything no one wants to know.)
(It's satisfying to have a self-serving blog again. I haven't kept a personal-style journal in years.)
Aberrant childrearing (theirs or mine?)
Flash forward. The *super*natural mother that I am now didn't know a thing about giving birth when she found herself pregnant for the first time eight years ago. Strange now (three natural births later) to think that I even considered joining the medically-managed childbirth party line, let alone the cascade of uncaring choices that typically follow along a woman's journey into motherhood (my first daughter's birth story is in a book by that name, full of inspiring natural birth stories.)
My roundabout, unclearly-defined point, I suppose, is that I do not understand this culture despite being born into it, sort of. In other words, most Western-culture childrearing, family life practices seem aberrant and uncaring to me. They don't come naturally.
Typical mothers come together to complain about the responsibilities of caring for their babies. They look for ways around meeting their baby's most basic needs (i.e., breastfeeding, sense of safety and comfort, authentic human interaction.) They ask, "How can I deal with this inconvenience?" I say, "Look into your baby's eyes. How can you not meet that need?" Sometimes I wonder how many mothers realize that their babies are thinking, feeling beings just like everyone.
I can only guess that this widespread indifference to babies' needs is conditioned and reinforced by cultural design. As a Seventies counterculture refugee, I missed the class.
For all her faults, my mother unconditionally loved me. She made clear to me and my siblings that love and happiness were more important than anything. I brought that into my mothering practice, along with some definite ideas on how not to parent. My mother did not give me any experience fitting into mainstream culture, and glad I am for that.
Leave me alone, then
I did not set out to live an unconventional life (if that was at all avoidable.) In fact, I feel decidedly uncomfortable attracting attention to myself (perhaps after years tagging along behind a heavily tattooed, barefoot, braless mom.) Nonetheless, I could not act against my dearly held, instinctual values to seek love, peace, joy, and happiness in whatever form they happen to take.
In my way, I feel happier with the addition of each child. Love expounds. It really does. But I'm still lonely within the larger community. The nuclear family isolates, but the unconventional nuclear family is like a desert island.
When unconventional women such as myself complain about loneliness, we're told to abandon our babies and prioritize adult time and seek a life for ourselves. That's an adulterated concept, if you ask me. I live a life together with my mate and our children.
Can you imagine a life in which children are integrated (welcomed, valued, cherished) rather than one in which the parents are constantly trying to figure out who to leave the children with so they can do adult things? I've long been lonely for a circle of supportive families with joy in mind, but I would rather remain alone than "belong" to this culture that separates and punishes everyone.
So, if you're concerned about the well-being of me and my children, because we live atypically together, and you'd feel much better if I got a stroller and pushed the children off to day-prison and headed off to earn a slave wage so I could get my hair done and go clubbing with the other moms--for my own sanity, I must say, "bye bye."
I'm not anti-social. I'm authentically social. Therein lies the problem. (I get a little bitter sometimes. You wouldn't want to hear the judgments random strangers make about my choices for a happy together family.)
(Reposted from an old blog.)