“I realized that I needed to put a name to this group of women, and finally give us something to work with. This is my Platypus Theory. This blog catalogs the Platypus Directive.”
I have always been an observer. I get much more pleasure out of watching a crowd of people than I do interacting with them.
There are so many things people bring with them that it is like watching stories unfold every time they go outside; and, granted, some stories are better than others. A floral shirt a woman wears that reminds her of her Portuguese grandmother back home; jeans that are worn in the knees from years of carpentry, following in the footsteps of his father; a young woman with a crisp new leather purse she bought with her first paycheck. Which brand of cigarettes does this man smoke, which shade of lipstick does that woman wear, what are they listening to, what are they saying? I love to see what people are drinking, which tea they prefer, what they put in their coffee: what does it all mean?
With all this in mind, it is no wonder I have spent most of my time in mother’s groups and women’s groups observing my neighbors at breakfast potlucks. There were outgoing women, shy women, women who spoke in German as a secret code to combat feeling uncomfortable; women who cooked, women who hated cooking, women who could decorate their homes that would put J.Crew to shame, and eclectic women who just did whatever they felt like. It kept me entertained, at least.
I loved watching the spectrum of people involved and the amount of different things they all brought with them. Yet, there was one day at a mother’s group when I saw something different:
We were playing an “ice breaker” game, which I’m sure everyone has played at some point in a group setting. “An icebreaker is a facilitation exercise intended to help a group to begin the process of forming themselves into a team. Icebreakers are commonly presented as a game to “warm up” the group by helping the members to get to know each other. They often focus on sharing personal information such as names, hobbies, etc.”(1) Which is just the clinical definition for, “we are forcing you all to interact with each other. For fun.”
The game we were playing was a “four corners” game, where a question is posted on the screen and 4 possible answers were displayed as “A,B,C,” or “D.” We were to go to the labeled corners of the room in relation to our answer: so if we answered B, we would go to the corner of the room marked B. It is pretty straightforward, and fun to play since we get to see what we have in common, or what differences we had with each other.
The question I remember in particular was something along the lines of, “When you feed your family, you would prefer to: a) eat out, b) order in, c)frozen or boxed meals, or d) make dinner from scratch.” I made my way to the D corner, because I prefer to explore my creativity through culinary arts in my kitchen just about every day and every night. Since I was diagnosed with Celiac many moons ago, I found it was just easier to make meals from scratch to eliminate the surprise ingredient I was wont to find in premade dishes; so, I cook at dinner every night, from scratch, trying out new things to keep it hopping. I have so much fun in this area, I naturally thought everyone else did too! Why wouldn’t they??
What happened when I went to the D corner was interesting: I anticipated the majority of women to be in this corner with me, when instead I was standing there with 4 other women, out of about 80 women total. I was astonished that more people weren’t like me…which, I know, is a big shocker to anyone!
After that, though, I started noticing that there were always about 5 women in a large group who never really fit in. For some reason, they were the observers of the community, watching everyone else interact. Every group, the same situation: I was watching them watch others.
Yet, I could see no obvious, valid reasons for this to happen: for example, in one mother’s group I was in, it was a pretty homogenous group. We all lived in a Californian suburb, we all had a similar housing arrangement (e.g., we all had a house, as opposed to some of us living in apartments, condos or trailers), we were all in the same general financial spectrum (a solid middle-middle class), we all had children about the same ages, we all shopped at Target, we all drove similar cars, and we all were following the same religion. With all of this, you would really think that every one of us would have been 100% accepted!
And yet…there were about 5 of us who weren’t.
Master of Operations Management: MOM
Anyway, I just kept that in the back of my mind, just chewing it over for a year or two.
About this time I also had my “pregnancy marathon” years: 3 kids in 3 years, with 2 already out of their toddler years and I had just started homeschooling our oldest. We were busy, to say the least! We found ourselves in different social circles a few times, from switching churches or finding different homeschooling groups, and I kept noticing this same pattern: a couple women in these groups never felt comfortable belonging. It was interesting.
Also about this time, on another note, I was writing, publishing my first book, sewing, gardening, homeschooling, educating myself on elementary school academia, running a mother’s group and scheduling childcare and speakers for the group, raising kids, raising babies, being married to the most amazing man, and trying to keep up with the laundry (this is still a work in progress).
I was sitting at my desk one day lamenting the fact that I didn’t like my title. “Mom.” What is that? It covers so little of what I do every day, that I wasn’t satisfied with my title. When people asked what I did for a living, replaying with “Mom” just didn’t cut it. I also didn’t feel comfortable listing all the things I do, because then it just sounds like I’m defending myself or compensating for something, and that’s not the case. However, I wanted to give myself credit for what I did do.
I decided that I needed to take my fate into my own hands and give myself a title that was better suited to cover all of my qualities.
Be the master of my own destiny and create a title that fit me. My husband and I worked on many different titles for a few months, and finally settled on “Master of Operations Management.” I was very pleased with this title.
But then I was thinking about the unnamed group of women I seem to find in every group. They aren’t all extroverts, they aren’t all introverts; they aren’t all engineers or domestic divas; they were each individually different, and yet had the same unique quality I could see as clear as day whenever we got together with them. They were the small, unnamed group of women in offices, in churches, in groups and in families who are different…for some reason. There is a duality about them that allows them to belong to a group, without becoming a part of the group.
I realized that I needed to put a name to this group of women, and finally give us something to work with.
This is my Platypus Theory.
This blog catalogs the Platypus Directive.