I was the weird kid growing up. Like everyone else, I tried to fit in, but it was always so forced and strange. In middle school, I watched Japanese anime and listened to punk rock and tried desperately to express myself through style. But it was like no one ever got it. As a teenager, it was even harder. I was the awkward kid in heavy eyeliner and a black hoodie despite the hot weather. My sanctuary was the art room and those were the only other kids I could relate to because we were all so quirky. There were the countless times I made jokes that no one found funny and put comments in conversations but was only met with blank stares. And when I tried to act “cool”, I failed…epically. Most of my peers were into trends, hip hop, and house parties because they too were just trying to fit in. It’s hard enough just being an adolescent, but being a weird kid made it seem like I was trying to squeeze into a mold I wasn’t meant for.
It got easier after high school, as it usually does. I was still a nerd but it was easier to find other nerds and weirdos. We were all in the same classes because our interests finally lined up. College eventually comes to an end, though. When college is done and you grow up, all your friends grow up too. They change into different people, get jobs, and move away. We all change. When I grew up and joined the work force, it didn’t matter as much because I had coworkers to bond with. After all, we had something in common just by working at the same place. But becoming a mom, or more specifically a stay at home mom, is very abruptly isolating and lonely.
The beginning was the worst. Most of my friends didn’t have kids and my old coworkers all quickly forgot about me. I tried to make friends in the neighborhood and at the playground, but that was worse than high school. First, there’s the anxiety driven “should I talk to her?” battle in your head. Then the awkward conversation that consists mostly of, “he/she is so cute” or “how old is he/she?” or “it’s so hot today”. Finally, if there’s some sort of successful conversation or the kids get along, there’s the trading of numbers that are never going to be called anyway.
And then there’s me, the weird mom. I have a ton of dorky interests that I love to talk about. What Hogwarts houses we’re in and favorite Harry Potter fan fictions, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and why it’s the greatest show ever (Buffy and Spike foreva), or the choice between Kirk or Picard. Sometimes I speak entirely in movie quotes and other times I want to talk about things that matter like history and female equality and the environment. And of course, my clothing is almost entirely graphic tees and nerd references, and it never quite matches. But it’s hard to find another weird mom, let alone another mom friend at all. What is there to talk about if I don’t like sports, or I don’t watch new TV programs or popular movies, or fad diets, or trendy clothing, or if I don’t like to gossip? It’s super awkward getting blank looks when I try to slip an X-Files reference or Buffy quote into a conversation. It doesn’t help that I stutter when I’m nervous and have yet to be able to have a normal social encounter.
Then I got lucky. Really lucky. A glass of wine prompted me to comment on a girl’s picture in a Facebook babywearing group because she lived in the same city as me. That’s all it took to find a member of my own weird mom tribe. We spend hours talking about fandoms and nerdy things and it’s fantastic. It was really like finding a gemstone among rocks. But it took a long time to find her because most of us awkward moms are rather introverted and find it hard to make new friends.
As moms, we’re all struggling, falling apart, and wondering why we don’t have it together like everybody else. Weird moms, I see you. I get you. Just as you settled in a world that called you strange, you were thrown into an even more hostile environment as soon as you became a mom. But it’s okay to be a dorky mom. Stay in those fandoms, quote those shows, make those bad jokes, talk about science and big issues, wear those graphic tees, ignore normal conversation and just be weird. Because chances are, our kids will be the weird kids too. It will be our responsibility to make sure that they read The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. It’s our job to introduce them to Doctor Who and play Legend of Zelda. Weird moms, let your nerd flag fly high because another weird mom is looking for you too.