In many ways, I am attracted to controversy. I liked to rock the boat in high school with my teachers--for instance, when given a ceiling tile to paint in health class I wanted to do one about safe sex and they said "NO!"...so I snuck it outside and painted a big, red picture of a Trojan condom wrapper and installed it back into the ceiling. I like to surprise people in their perception of me--maybe have a certain look, but then say something unexpected when I opened my mouth. In college, this was with a very punk rock look...at bible study. And the obvious, my choice to bring home a man tattooed and pierced from top to bottom to my family...and then marry him and have lots of babies.
The thing is, once you do something that is considered "fringe" or "alternative" and it picks up steam, it becomes mainstream. And once it is mainstream, I feel the need to question it all over again with a more critical eye. My biggest blessing/curse is that I am a natural diplomat--given any circumstance, I can see both sides. (This can be very frustrating to my husband who alwasy wants me to have his back;) The blessing part aspect of this is that, even if I find a way that suits me, I can (usually) easily get to a place where I can respect the choice of someone who does things the opposite way. I can hear and understand a theory behind a certain type of lifestyle or choice and not feel threatened by it. On the flip side, this can many times put me on the fence. I especially feel this way about politics, beacuse the choices made do not just affect the individual but a whole population. Often times, when those ballot measure booklets come in the mail, I read them and think "Well, that makes sense..." and then "Of course, this side makes a good point, too...." Most of the time I can't make up my mind and toss my ballot into the recycle bin.
Sometimes on the fence is a lonely place to be. Its natural for groups and friendships to form around common ideals. This is certainly true of mothering tribes, who in the past decade seem to have become so polarized between "the natural way" (which somehow leaks over into more areas than just things like birth and breastfeeding, but also commonalities like politics and parenting) and the "mainstream"...which is funny, and maybe this is because I live in the bubble that is the Republic of Portland, but it seems that "natural" IS mainstream now. And as said before, once something becomes mainstream, I feel the need to question it, to challenge it. Suddenly, I feel outside of the circle that I'd been so inside of. I do find it a challenge to only focus my new found scrutiny on only my own life with having it spill over into other relationships, but I find it doable because of my diplomatic tendancies. I can say, "this isn't working for me anymore, but respect that it might still be working for you". Making a move like this makes me search deeper for those relationships that are not merely built on "doing things alike" but on mutual respect and trust and openness. Sometimes I find that the easiest people to talk to about parenting are non-parents, or to talk about politics to people who are less-informed--their ideas are not so cemented, so they are receptive.
But I wonder where this "need to be different" stems from for me. Relationships are importnat to me, and sometimes I feel that this boat rocking puts them in jeopardy. I don't think I do this on a purposeful (albeit unconscious) level. Does this make me seem wishy-washy? I mean, to abandon ones ideals seems like something a very unstable person might do. I don't feel unstable...yet I am often teetering on a fence:) Maybe I am just impressionable. I was at the library the other day and I picked up a book, that seems to at first glance be in line with "the way I do things." But on further inspection, I could see the author was challenging them instead. Not one to be close-minded, I took it home and found that many of her arguments not only made sense, but I could see examples in my own life. Suddenly, my world-in-my-head was set aspin (I think I just made that word up--it's like afloat, but more spin-y than float-y)--theories about attachment, education, and society that were banging against previously popular views. Some of these opposing views I could reconcile, somehow finding a way for both to live in harmony in my brain. Others that may at one time been so unwelcome in the circle...looking very, very sensible to me now.
It maybe that I was looking for something new and fresh. Or that I am continuing to search for a place where my true values fit in--or that my values continue to change and mature every year. One thing I have learned about life, whether its parenting or politics or whatever, is that often times something look really great on paper, but turns out very different when put into action. I suppose we all put things into action differently as well, what functions well for one family or one country just doesn't translate the same for another. Right now, besides finding what is right for my family, I am also trying to find how my constant questioning can be a strength for me and not a weakness--and to explore what relationships make me feel safe enough to question without being judged, and who also will not feel judged by my questioning.
Was that vague enough for you? LOL. If you are still following along, do you ever feel this way or have any thoughts??