I do not define myself through what I wear, or what I buy, but just like everybody else, I am guilty of wearing and buying things that fit my definition of "cool." But we live in a consumer culture, and while I rail against it on the inside, I fall victim to it more than I care to admit. I wear Chuck Taylors. I buy Gap jeans. My kids wear funky, crazy tights, Misfits onesies, and get pushed around in a well made stroller.
By its current definition, that does make me a hipster.
I've been called worse.
Yesterday, I was attacked online, both personally, and as a contributing writer of Strollerderby. Called names. Made fun of. Insulted. And I felt compelled to defend myself, and my choices. I could've just ignored the comments, and jibes, I suppose, but I chose not to. I jumped into the altogether pointless and downright mean "conversation," because I felt like I was being accused: accused of being a bad parent, of being a thoughtless consumer, and of being less that what I am.
I spent the better part of my day yesterday thinking about who and what I am, exactly. And all I could come up with is this: I am more than just one thing. I am more than a lifestyle or a demographic. I am bursting with contradictions, opinions and passions. I am less than perfect. I am a beautiful mess.
I can see how someone who does not know me in real life could get an impression of me by reading Strollerderby. I write snarky posts about celebrities, and make fun of stupid people for being caught doing stupid things. But that's my job. I get paid to crank the sarcasm up, and engage readers in conversations like "New Mom Jen Garner Thinks She's Fat: Discuss!," and to debate things like a federally mandated HPV vaccine for young girls. I like my job - but I'm more than that.
I can see how someone who does not know me in real life, but reads this blog, could form an opinion of me based on what I write about my life as a woman, post childbirth. Let's see: I breastfed my kids until they were almost 2; My 4 year old daughter only recently stopped sharing a bed with her parents; We had a loving pet pit bull in our home for 6 years; We take our kids to protests and concerts; I swear a lot, and sometimes, I ignore my kids in favor of spending a little quality time alone. Depending on what your take is, I could be called a hippie, a hipster, an attachment parent, a careless parent, a mommyblogger, a pushover, a lactivist, a foul mouthed knee-jerk liberal, an asshole, a freak, or housewife. But I'm more than that.
Some people call Salad Days "an exploitation" of my children, a way to get attention, a badge of my status as a (insert insult here). I call it a chronicle of this amazing time in my life, and my family's life. When I started it, no one read it but family, and the word "blogosphere," was not in my vocabulary. Through it, I have made friends, shared heartache and joy, told intimate secrets, learned some valuable lessons, and discovered pieces of myself that I didn't know I had. Yes, I am a blogger, and proud of it. But I'm more than that.
Yesterday's discussion of the TIME piece, and Strollerderby, and me, took me back to high school. It was bizarre. It took me back to a time when everything and everyone was labeled and categorized - if you were this, you weren't that, and if you weren't that, you had to be this. There was no grey area, no room for more than one interest, belief or defining characteristic. It took me back to when a time when I had no idea who I was, so I was a little bit of everything, and nothing.
But now, twenty years later, I've got better things to think about; I have two young girls to raise up. And I have the self-awareness and chutzpah to tell people who make assumptions about me to go fuck themselves. People who don't like who they think I am are just ignorant. People who think they can define me based on their own perceptions of mothers, women and the word "cool" will get it wrong every time.
I'll never be just one thing - ever. I'll always be a mess of ideas, dreams, plans, contradictions and compliments. I'll always be changing and growing. No one word will ever accurately describe me. Because I am more than that.