Copyright © June Cleaver in yoga pants
Design by Dzignine
Friday, June 28, 2013

in defense of the divergent mama

So, have you read the Divergent books yet? They are the PERFECT summer escapism books featuring a strong female character (Tris) her hunky stoic boyfriend (Four) and a post-apocylaptic (I had to sound that word out, HA.) America, my favorite escapsim genre.

Pause to say, if you havent read these books and dont know about them but really want to and get pissy about reveals, DONT READ THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH. I reveal nothing that isnt the basic plot but some people are kinda picky like that, so....

----skip this part----
Tris lives in Chicago, where the population is divided into four "factions" based on character traits. She comes from the "Abnegation"(selfless, humble leaders of the their world) but after her initiation as an adult (at 16?!) transfers to "Dauntless" the gun-toting, fighting, courageous defenders of their world. HOWEVER, in her testing to see where she belongs it is revealed her personality is not just fit for Abnegation, or Dauntless, or the farming peaceful Amity group, OR the intelligent curious bookish Erudite group, but instead she is equally THREE of the four - Erudite, Abnegation, and Dauntless. She is Divergent. Which rarely happens in her world. She ends up choosing Dauntless and becomes a selfless fighter for freedom and...etc. (Dont want to reveal too much!) I've just finished book two. Book three comes out in October. I might have to re-read one and two before then, yes, they are that fun.

----okay safe to read now, although the post wont make sense if you didnt read the above so you  might as well stop reading now, ha!---

In any case. You've read the title of this post and now that you know the plot of the books, so, well, you see where I am going with this, right?

There is something about motherhood that is so very defining, or rather, we want to define inside of it, in our little camps, so we know who we are and how we relate to each other.

Oh. You are a mom, me too. But what KIND of mom are you? Oh, you homeschool? And you, you let your kids eat McDonalds? And you let your two year old nurse, whenever she wants??? WELL you put your kid in daycare???? Oh, well then. We are DIFFERENT.

I am finding myself experiencing this within homeschooling too. Oh, you do that crazy Waldorfy thing? Oh, you do correspondence school? Via the Internet?? And you, you "unschool"???? Oh, well....

And we have this need to define, in so many facets of life. How we school. How we eat. How we parent. Whether we exercise or not. And then of course the great questions of religion, politics, etc.

You belong in that group there, I belong here. While we are at it we might as well wear armbands or various colors, like in the book, so as to more easily distinguish ourselves. The crunchy hippy mamas can wear green. The working moms can wear yellow. Paleo types can wear red. Unschoolers blue. Etc. Etc. Etc.

We have factions. And it seems sometimes in the mommying world we are particularly...particular...about them, insistent rather that we run up our flag and claim one.

I recently wrote a post for a lovely Waldorfy blog but I found myself nervous about it. I realized later it was because I felt like I was claiming that "Waldorf" label as my own, to define me. That community I have seen can be particularly, um, particular, purist rather, about what to do (fairy tales until they are 10!) or not to do (NO TELEVISION!) The other day I was reading a blog where a mother found herself having to write a confessional blog post, admiting she wasnt Waldorfy enough, and "leaving" the Waldorf world altogether.

I found myself wanting to hug her. To cry out, "BUT WHY DO WE HAVE TO BE ONE THING???" Like Tris in the book, why can't we be multi-faceted mamas, embracing our strengths with pride (I CAN CRAFT!) admiting our weaknesses too (I AM IMPATIENT!) knowing that others are there to support us. Why cant we find the things that work for us and our family (HOMEBIRTH, HOMESCHOOL, TOM AND JERRY, AND the occasional HAPPY MEAL), embrace them, discard the rest (for now) and go on with life? Why do we need the labels, the strict adherence to one set of rules or another?

Maybe I am just not an all or nothing kind of mama though, or person really.  Some mamas NEED daily trips to the gym. Some people prefer to eat GMO free all organic super duper natural all the time. Other mamas feel absolute about no television for their child.

I just cant be extreme all the time like that. Maybe its that I am just, well, divergent. I have many strengths and one is trying to understand where people are coming from, seeing their side of things.

Or maybe I am just lazy. HA. Being extreme is a lot of work.

And I'm not saying, dude, its all good, relax, man. (That is in a surfer kid voice.)

But we can stand up for things that are important to us, like Tris does by the end of the second book, without claiming one title and stridently living by that name. We can be Waldorf-y-ish mamas who love fairy tales and crafting AND listening to their children laugh watching Tom and Jerry antics. We can eat organic, because its good, but also serve grilled cheese sandwiches with American cheese because, lets face it, cheese product melts better than cheddar.

I mean, right? And this isnt about being judgy about others, though it is kinda what I am saying, I think. But its about being judgy with ourselves. Needing to fit in, find an identity. Find your thing to fight for and YES stand for it, absolutely, but dont kill yourself trying to fit that mold.

You know?

I think that is what I am trying to say.


In any case. I have come to accept my divergent personality over the years. I am ENTJ, according to the Meyers Briggs personality test, but I am barely an extrovert over an introvert, depending on the situation, and I am Judging (making decisions easily) but just barely over being perceptive (being able to adapt in situations). All this to say, I have gone nuts at one point or another, trying to be the out and out crunchy granola mom. (But you ARE Sara, you gasp) But I just cant do it. (And no, no, I am not.)

And I am not saying be like me, be like Tris, be DIVERGENT. No, I am not that cheesy (okay, yes, I am). But mostly I am saying don't kill yourself trying to fit into that mold. Wear your hair in dreads AND shop at Ann Taylor (dammit!) Go back to work, if staying at home with kids is not your thing, embrace your strengths. Take the plunge and start homeschooling, even if people think you are nuts. Dont conform to the mommyhood need to categorize the shit out of our lives. We hurt each other and ourselves doing it, I think.

Just be you. And be content! We are working our butts off to be the best mamas we can be. That is the important part.

And yes, sure. BE DIVERGENT. TRIS'S of the world, UNITE.

(Ha. I had to, you know I did. And seriously read these books!!)

...just for kicks, below photos of me over the years. WE CHANGE, is the thing, priorities and goals. And that is okay. Good even. Right?? wow. I just spent WAY too much time looking at these. Motherhood really is a precious journey, isnt it? Its fascinating to see who we were, who we have become, where we are going. Anyway. Enough of this long post. Love to you mamas! You rock.

hippy mama. my current frame of reference ;)

international adventurer lecturer girl, pre baby years.

new mama. (SKINNY! TIRED!)

grad school years (SKINNY! TIRED!)

international adventurer years, out for a run.
mama years. the only picture of me i could find in a suit. (ha! i used to wear them, and pointy toe heels too!)

super duper pregnant with little man. :)

mama to a baby girl

mama to another baby girl.

here i am a few months ago. wearing whatever the hell
i want, dreads all crazy. no wonder i get crazy lady stares
at the library.

the dreads now.

the dreads begin

early dreads.

little man took this picture. this is totally the height of my early
yoga pants years. hilarious.

fat baby (little miss) and a blue sky. the theme here now seems to be having a baby pressed to my side. who knows
what will be next? a pixie haircut and a full back tattoo - of an oak tree :)  maybe??? while i go on a book
tour and start my organic garlic and goat farm????


  1. Man! I am so glad to read your post I don't fit in a box or want to be label I go with the flow somethings day others days they don't.Thanks for sharing good to find someone of liked mind.
    Happy days Emma :-)

  2. I can't completely remember how I stumbled upon your blog (maybe from a post in a Waldorf yahoo group?)...regardless I loved reading this post! I catch myself at times thinking "We (my family) are so not Waldorfy enough. Someone is going to call us a fraud. It's so clear that we have no idea what we're doing here!" or "We try to eat organic, GMO free, homemade foods, but today I just need to stop the screaming of hungry people in my backseat and so Chick-fil-a will do!". But reading this and some other things lately is helping me to realize we are who we are. We are enough of many different things and extremes are extreme....and we're not extreme!

    1. Emily, life is so much more sane when you stop trying to be who you "think" other people think you should be and just be YOU. which sometimes means happy meals, for the toy alone, and an hour of sesame street so mama can breathe. :) hugs!

  3. Hooray for the divergent moms and dads...rock on!

  4. Loved this. Loved, loved, loved this post.

  5. glad you did A. and thanks for sharing around :) divergent mamas! UNITE!

  6. SUUUUUCH a fantastic post, girl. I love it when you go all ranty!! And yes, seriously, why do we do this to ourselves??? It's everywhere - homeschool, parenting, politics, PTA, churchy stuff, anti-religious stuff, writerly stuff, health, style, you-watch-what?, you-like-tattoos ohmygosh!!! As if I don't put enough pressure on myself, people.

    So yes, I'm with you on the Divergent / Possibly Lazy thing. I just really like human beings!! Real, authentic human beings who know what a beautiful and painful adventure this thing called life is and want to share the journey together - allowing our unique choices and oddities to ENHANCE to the experience.

    Oh, and the tattoo I'm getting next month? "You were wild here. Don't let them tame you." *le sigh*


  7. dearest mer. thanks and love what you are saying here.
    and yes, perfect quote. I need a new tattoo too. :)

  8. This is terrific. Not a momma yet.. maybe someday and maybe not. But I think it can be said for all, that fitting into labels is really very damn hard and we spend way too much time and energy trying to do so. Really appreciate this entry.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...