Maverick Mothering – the tale of the professional woman and the amateur mum. “The joys of motherhood”. It’s a pat phrase, often bandied about ironically by tired mums laughing amongst themselves.
(And before this raises hackles with fathers, I am talking about the visceral link that birthing creates with a child. In no way do I intend to denigrate the amazing work most dads do – you’re half of the solution, after all.)
What many mothers worry about is the child’s experience, as they grow up. Will they be viewed as a good mother by the school – gate posse of Judge-and-Jury (you know who I mean)?
Will they be remembered as a good mother by the child as it grows?
With Socialised Mavericks , this is an issue, balancing the urge to break free from all convention with the pretty restrictive expectations of the standard nursey/school/play-with-other-children behaviours, held by non-Maverick parents and, therefore, by their children. Those judgements will be visited upon your child in the playground with what will feel to them, like a Biblical curse.
When you come to the niche subset of Socialised Mavericks that is the Misanthropic Maverick, that can pose yet further challenges. This is because, in addition to knowing that you are being judged by all the other parents (and children) because you’re a “bit different”, you don’t care what they think, but your non-Maverick child really, really does.
The Biblical curse just got the DeMille treatment (social history reference – Cecil B DeMille – worth viewing some videos).
Translation: it all just got a whole LOAD worse. Seriously, tantrumy, wailingly worse.
And when you actually speak with these parents, letting them spout their judgements about “other parents” and make assumptions about “people like us” (presumably based on the fact I have turned up in a suit because I was on my frantic way to work), it really kicks off.
That’s because I do not conform for the sake of it. I disagree if I think they are being unfair, I raise serious topics about the state of education, or politics, or even … parenting. These are often met with awkward silence, as The Judgers realise they aren’t dealing with the norms and vanilla platitudes that they expect. I make no apology for using my intelligence; it is how I please my clients every day in work.
I also make no apology for using it to challenge pointless chatter and confront it with evidence, challenge, facts.
The difficulty is, my children would love it if I was just a bit more vanilla …
And now more to balance (this is becoming a really tottering pile of expensive and fragile glassware we’re balancing here – one mistake and it tumbles, breaks irreparably and cuts you in the process).
Add your child’s behavioural preferences. What if you have two, as I do? One deeply conformist and wrapped in the smothering veil of others’ necessary good opinion, the other a Socialised Maverick but still struggling with the fact that others struggle with her difference, and struggling painfully with my indifference.
And, to add to the metaphoric pile, add advanced teenage and public exams into the mix. Wow is that a big pile of expensive glassware all waving around that I’m trying to keep from falling.
Hang on. “My indifference”? How come? Let me explain.
I am not indifferent to either of my children. Let’s be clear – they took a whole lot of medicinal intervention to be here at all and they are both lovely, intelligent, loyal individuals whom I love fiercely. The issue really is that I am no good mopping up the tears after another teen bust up over social media, or tolerating whining about the wrong width of jean leg.
Leave me out – the Misanthropic Maverick’s not about that. It’s the tale of the professional woman and the amateur mum.
And also I am working 19-to-the-dozen to make a crust. As a solopreneur, I have to work to earn. I am a professional woman, working with other professionals, and aiming to demonstrate my worth in business, so that people buy my services. I am seen as professional in what I do. The Misanthropic Maverick in the paradox of needing to appear the swan like, take it in your stride, serene professional above the water, but not minding that they are paddling like glory beneath.
It’s how I do what I do.
And that’s the rub. What I do … IN WORK. I am seen as pretty amateurish at home. The “joke” is that I am “sub-optimal” in the eyes of our Performance Manager offspring. Never stopping work soon enough to fix meals for people rushing in and out for summer jobs, college, work, meetings etc.
Never quite having washed the right pair of seemingly-identical “trackies”. Never having tidied the house sufficiently when mates come round (of course it never occurs to the Conformist that he would deign to do this himself).
Generally, never quite good enough.
Except – and this is crucial – I am still there for the concert, or the lift to the interview, or the impress-the-friends meal en famille. Occasionally this receives a thanks.
That’s not why the Misanthropic Maverick does it.
They do it because it is the right thing to do. So it’s important to remember that a professional business person can be amateur (ie unwaged) in their home life and still be pretty professional in that too, in terms of commitment, support and performance when it really counts.
That’s just another part of what makes this Misanthropic Maverick tick.
The tale of the professional woman and the amateur mum. So far, the glassware is fairly stable again. It’s bound to topple sometime, but by then, the young people won’t be so young, and vulnerable to the perceptions of others … so they won’t see it, or they won’t mind if they do.
And that’s what keeps me balancing, sub-optimal all the way.
 Socialised Maverick – Judith Germain. The Maverick Paradox: The Secret Power Behind Successful Leaders. PublishNation 2017