Mom Identities Are Like Bumper Stickers

Ah, the bumper sticker. A sense of pride. Camaraderie. Another way to identify with our “tribe” whatever that may be.

We proudly display our political beliefs, religious affiliations, sorority houses, branches of the armed forces, or whatever activity in which our kids participate.

I myself am NOT a bumper sticker gal. Mostly because I’m not always the most attentive driver and I don’t want to bring shame on an entire group of people because I accidentally drifted into another lane. But, there have been moments where another driver has cut me off, or saluted me with a certain finger, that I’ve seen a specific bumper sticker and thought, “Figures.”

Once I entered Mom World, I began to notice the sense of pride associated with each Mom Tribe. Maybe they weren’t plastering stickers all over their double stroller, but they were easily identifiable if one only knew the tell-tale signs…

I would find myself naively meandering around after library story time, completely unaware of the school lunchroom-like environment in which I was engaging. I was clearly not a workout mom, as evidenced by my untouched diastasis recti and the absence of a protein shake. I also didn’t have much ground with the nanny crew--all in the early twenties decked out in Anthropologie. I could try the crunchy crew, but all the talk of homemade kombucha immediately revealed my fraudulence. So, I found myself at the train table, crouched next to my child, not belonging to any tribe.

Sometimes, I think we as moms need something to cling to, to help us make fewer decisions and, also, to help us identify with a specific group. So, we define ourselves solely by a book we read, a sleep-training system, a diet we follow, or anything to alleviate some of the inevitable pressures of parenting.

I am not against finding your tribe and parenting within your beliefs, but I would caution us to not do so to the detriment of ourselves or others. As your children grow, it’s okay to change your mind. Maybe cloth-diapering exclusively works for one season and not another. Maybe you eat organically most of the time, but order pizza several nights a week while you’re on the couch with prenatal nausea. It’s also okay to include a mom that isn’t like you. Maybe you’re all about those essential oils and she’d prefer to call the doc for a round of antibiotics at the first sign of strep. That’s okay. You don’t have to see eye to eye to overlook your differences for the sake of friendship.

Have your tribe, find your people. But just remember to look up now and then  and smile at someone who doesn't look just like you. There's common ground there, somewhere, it just doesn't have a label yet. 

Kara Garis is a cloth diapering, baby wearing, semi-crunchy mama to two active boys and a baby girl. She lives with her husband in Oklahoma and loves running, cooking, traveling, reading and teaching herself how to braid. She blogs at karagaris.com.

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