Camille, in visible distress, wished today for a "normal family". Setting aside my initial internal reaction of hurt feelings, and ignoring that voice that wanted to lecture her about how good she's got it, I calmly asked her what that would look like. "You know... NORMAL."
So, we had that conversation.
More structure around mealtimes and bedtimes? "No." More limits and spelled-out rules and expectations, less open-ended choice and freedom? "No." Live in a finished house in town? "No." Attend sports games? Eat hotdogs? What?
"I don't actually want to be a normal family. I just want to look like a normal family."
OK, now we're getting somewhere. She had been teased in her summer school classes about having such a weird looking Mama, and apparently it's been stressing her out for awhile. In rural Wisconsin, dreadlocks and flow-y clothes are not exactly the norm. I have consciously made sure to keep my hairy legs and armpits covered when interacting with Camille's local friends because I know that it really weirds some people out. I have my own reasons for choosing to have dreadlocks and such, and it's not just to freak people out. I'm not morally opposed to shaving my legs or pits or wearing make-up, but I find it highly time-consuming, uncomfortable, and rash-inducing, as well as just not being what I'm interested in.
She confessed that she had a secret plan to turn me into a normal mom. It involved saving up the money from her egg-business and buying me a new wardrobe, a wig that looked like a bun, make-up, shoes, and jewelry. OK, I could be pretty insulted, but I somehow think it's kind of sweet and amusing. Interestingly enough, she's not afraid of letting her freak flag fly and dressing like a pirate queen, a boy, or a hippie.
All that being said, what is my responsibility to my child to not being an embarrassing mom (is there such a thing?)? She knows how I feel about the issue of conformity vs. being yourself, and I'm certainly not about to cut off the dreads or start wearing heels, but could I tie my hair up in a bun when I go to pick her up? Sure. Could I wear simple clothes and not African print wrap-around skirts in front of her friends' families? Why not? And if she really wants to pick me out some clothes from a thrift store with her own money? I'll accept it as a gift and not an insult.