The Gaggle Of Geese Theory

Yesterday I was out running errands. In the middle of a busy street, a gaggle of geese were walking alone in formation in front of me. 

I stayed far behind the last one, giving them room. To heck with the people behind me. When there were no more cars in the opposite lane, I went around them. 

I thought to myself, if I'd been born a goose, I'd know what to do. I probably wouldn't be "different." They all looked alike. I might have fit in. 

But then I remember the phrase "odd duck" and thought maybe that thought didn't have a lot of merit after all.

It's hard to be the odd duck in life. You try your best to mimic the actions of people around you. You try to say the right things. But people habitually disappear from your life without so much as a word in parting. 

It is disconcerting. It makes me turn inward even more. It makes me not want to be in social situations of any variety. 

I retreat into my quiet little apartment with my pupsters who love me unconditionally. For which I tell them I love them many times a day. 

They don't seem to see me as an odd duck. I'm just mama.

But then I was mama to two girls, and the lasting impression of having had an odd duck for a mom seems to have distanced them from me. I am not really part of their lives. 

I guess I should understand. They know I wouldn't show up for big gatherings even if they asked. Point taken. I wouldn't want to go into a mall for any reason whatsoever. Point taken. I wasn't ever a member of the PTA. Point taken.

I was just their weird duck of a mom. And it seems to have defined me as a person.

I don't like to make people uncomfortable. I don't grasp the wrong thing coming out of my mouth until I never hear from them again. And then I still don't know what I said, just that I must have said something wrong. Again.

It's like being in an alternate universe where nothing makes sense. Where I never seem to be able to put the pieces of the puzzle together to see the entirety of the picture.

We are components of our genetics, our childhood environment, and our personality structure. All of these things make up who we become. 

But I still think: If I was just a goose walking along in a gaggle of geese, all looking alike, I wouldn't stand out as different. I would know, because nature would have had a strong hand in guiding me as a goose, what to do next. 

The geese in the street went at their own pace, oblivious to the cars all around them. Marching to the tune of their own drum. They walked like a pregnant woman in her last trimester, bobbing to and fro. Doing whatever it is that nature preordained them to do. 

I so admired that gaggle of geese. 

At the end of the day, we are simply who we are. We can fake it to make it. But I've never been very good at that. I'm very concrete and I say things like I see them, without the proper editing. I feel and hear and say things without the proper social filters. 

I don't understand the shifts in social situations. I don't grasp the cues that are probably right there in front of me. 

I'm currently reading this novel called "Love And Miss Communication." It is about this young female attorney who thinks she is about to be made partner. She is called into the big meeting, all ready with her acceptance speech. 

But instead of being made partner, she is let go. They have discovered that she spends an inordinate amount of time at work online with social media. And she is abruptly without a job and given a small window of time to gather her belongings and be escorted out of the place she's slaved at for years. 

She ends up spending a lot of her time in her apartment in NYC, not knowing what to do with herself. She decides to give up the internet, which she is, she finally admits to herself, a virtual slave to. 

At one point, she says, if she doesn't get her act together, people will begin to think of her as a home bound Aspergian. I inwardly bristled at the comparison she made. Because I am that home bound Aspergian.

Here is a list of traits of Aspergian females. It is something you can choose to read if you want to, so I shall not copy it here. It is written by a woman with Aspergers, and for me it is eerily like looking in a mirror.

As I read it, I finally felt part of a gaggle of geese. Or maybe a group of odd ducks. 

I feel everything the Aspergian female wrote, acutely. I agonize over every situation in which I am in the presence of others. I am never calm until I am back inside my apartment with the door closed. And the pupsters are there to greet me with such joy. 

Their eyes light up when they see me. No judgment, no admonishment. Just pure unadulterated love. 


  1. Oh Brenda I don't know what to say. I get a little more insight into your Aspergers with each of your posts. What a remarkable lady you are. You function in a world you feel so out of synch with. Animals are the best. No judging or criticizing, I hope you have a nice weekend.

  2. My 15 year-old girl, Laura, has high-anxiety along with chronic pain and sleep issues. Several weeks back, when we were just talking, she told me how her brain functions. While our alarm goes off and we get out of bed, go do our morning bathroom routine and then eat breakfast, get dressed and start our day, her brain does not do those things 'normal'. Each action has a long list added to it. Example: Open eye. Mentally check each body part, making sure it is okay. Roll over, but which way? Which foot do I put down first? Why? Put foot down, put other foot down, etc. Every movement, every breathe is thought about. By the time she opens her bedroom door, she's already overwhelmed for the day. She says she doesn't ever remember not doing this and she always thought everyone did this. When she started public school, which was 8th grade, her anxiety became worse. By this last year, which was her Sophomore year in high school, she had to stay home and do school on-line. She is starting to see a therapist this next week. I guess what I would like to know, if it is not too personal, is this sort of what you go through? I never thought about her maybe having Aspbergers until you shared with us and then I read that article you gave the link for. She does a lot of those things. Anyway, I know you aren't a professional, I just would like your thoughts on it. Thank you for all the topics you have always covered. You help so many people, you know.

    1. Why don't you have her read the link in this post, or you read it to her. Ask her if she feels like that. Break it up into small paragraphs. Because it is hard for us to answer questions that are long because we forget the beginning once we reach the end. If she says she feels like that, Google Aspergers test. There are several online. I took one before I had my actual test, and many of the questions were the same. But there were just a lot more questions at the actual test + the other tests I was given. I would have emailed you, but you have a no-reply address. Good luck and let me know.

    2. Oh, I forgot something. No, I don't question the same things she does. But every Aspergian has different symptoms and ways of processing information and the minutia of life. I'd definitely get her to someone though.

  3. Brenda, you express yourself so well in words. I truly am learning so much from you. I know life is hard for you and you do experience much loss of friends and family, but many of us admire you and support your sharing things with us. I found the Aspergers Traits for Women fascinating and realize even more how hard it is to navigate this world for you and others like you.


  4. Thank God you live in an era where there is an online community of friends who care about you.


  5. I know that it is very difficult to live as a concrete thinker while most people see things in shades of gray, but there are so many of us who will not abandon you, sweet friend. xo Laura

  6. You are raising awareness. Girls are so often missed, especially the most intelligent.

    1. Agree ! and even with Deb to help her daughter!!

  7. I feel a bit like you describe...I think we all must. Home is my very favorite place to be. It's where I feel the most at peace. And, speaking of awkward social things, I read a comment of yours on another blog regarding ants and peonies. The ants are needed to open the blooms. So, if there are no ants you will not get the beautiful flowers. A bit like people I suppose. We each have our way of being needed.

  8. Remember the tale by Hans Christian Andersen "The Ugly Duckling"? To many of your readers, you are a swan.

  9. funny.....I am desperately trying to teach my children to be different and to dance to the beat of another boring would like be if we all were alike. I like different and I like visiting you and your blog!

  10. I wonder sometimes if I am somewhat like you. Maybe to not the degree when I was younger but now that I am retired I feel out of place nearly every where. When I was in charge I could cope better but being a follower does not seem to work for me because I don't know how. I have friends that go away too. No word at all as to why. I miss them off and on through life. My life is very busy right now. My dog passed about a year ago and someday I might get another dog for company as I enjoyed both my dogs over the long haul more than people. Other than my daughter who is a lot like me although processes things better than I do. We get along great and I am very thankful for her. Now, I am tucked in my home and make myself go out for something about 5 times a week. Seems maybe if I keep trying it will get better. Unsure about that really. I hope things improve for you quickly and you find good times coming up. Also....just to throw this out there. Our times have changed. People in general are more selfish, they only want to talk about them selves they even drive the car with their own rules so maybe the world changing has made us feel even more like introverts. Blessing to you as you go through each day. Beautiful pictures....I just love them and have used many of your ideas.

  11. You are a COOL DUCK ! So talented and creative and HELPFUL.. my friend from college days has a child in the same situation as Deb's daughter. I'm going to send them here to read this. So sweet, and extremely (beyond just slightly shy) shy! Happy weekend to you and the pups ox

  12. Brenda, you explain so much of how you are and who you are and who you were as a mom.... I just hope and pray that your daughters are reading your blog. I would encourage them to do so.. even if you write them a letter to make that request of them, as your writing is very clear and precise, and you explain very clearly what it was like when you were a child and then a mother.. and now..... so I hope so much that they will read your posts having to do with Aspergers.

  13. Brenda, if you were a goose you would know better than to walk in the middle of a busy street! You are so smart and I admire you for a lot of reasons. You take responsibility for yourself even though you have had a lot to deal with in your life. You should give yourself a lot more credit than you do!!

  14. Masterfully written, Brenda. This essay really hit home. I haven't been to a Mall in decades, and I count that as a victory. OTOH, I haven't set foot in a Homegoods, but I'd love to go someday--it's on my bucket list. Just yesterday, thousands of frogs hopped out of my mouth. Even as I talked (yelled), I knew I was making a scene, but I'd had it up toHERE with my DH, so those frogs kept a-hoppin'.

  15. I lost my comment so if it magically appears I may be repeating myself.

    I've been called a black sheep in my family so I know I'd probably qualify as an odd duck as well. I guess it's something we learn with age and wisdom--that we can't judge or define ourselves by what others think. Yes, you have Asperger's but just as you are honest and to the point on your blog, can you be that way with friends and strangers? Maybe you won't seem so "odd" once people know what you are dealing with day to day.

    I applaud you for getting out to do your errands, shopping and visiting the doctor, vet and your daughter and grandson. Keep pushing yourself. We all breathe a sigh of relief when we walk in the door at the end of the day. Mentally it's more than a shelter for you but I know you are a smart, beautiful, vital person and I that you will find your way through this.


    Jane x

  16. Brenda,
    Know this for certain, your gaggle of geese here and now are part of your group.
    We admire and respect the woman you are and all that you offer to so many others.

  17. I understand what your saying. I'm a a faithful reader because I admire your endurance. I have to say I think of your daughters and pray for their strength. I didn't have a mother that was there to support me when I needed it. She had her issues. It's a difficult road for the child that has to take up the role of an adult parenting the parent.. We only get one life. Peace to you and your daughters.

  18. So. very. interesting. I think there is an odd duck in us all - one way or another - we all have an issue or two. I'm very similar to you. I would MUCH rather be at home in my comfort zone with my little one, than out socializing, any day.

    1. I agree. We all have issues. Being OCD, I can relate to a lot of this.

  19. I can fit into some of the descriptions, but I think my experience is because of environment, that is, a dysfunctional family. My parents were good in many ways, but both were children of alcoholics and both were emotionally scarred from their childhoods. My upbringing was shame based, meaning my siblings and I were made to feel guilty if we didn't appreciate what our parents did for us to the level they deemed appropriate. We were often told of how they were making sure we had what they didn't have as children, and we should be ashamed for not being grateful. I became such a people pleaser. As long as others were happy I felt relief. But when I tried to spread my wings I got my feathers yanked. So I kept trying to stay in line like a goose. My first husband also was the child of an alcohol and I experienced the same thing. That marriage really warped me and that's when I began to really develop some asbergian like behaviors. I really think my tendencies are environmental, but I do learn a lot from your writing on asbergers. It helps me too.

  20. My mom thinks my younger brother (29YO) has Asperger's. He's been on medication before for depression. He recently moved back in with my parents and spends his days locked in his room listening to music. My dad has less sympathy--and I'll admit, so have I-- for him and thinks he's wanting to relive his college days. Basically, he thinks he is lazy.

    But when I talk to my mom, I notice how eerily similar she and my brother are, in their outlook of others and how they think others perceive them. They complain frequently how the majority of people are too stupid to converse with them or be in their presence (and then that just pisses me off because it seems condescending to me)...but then they'll go back and admit that their inability to "adapt" to acceptable modes of behavior or conversation is what alienates them from others. It's almost like a badge of honor for my mom to say how many enemies she's made throughout her life, because she has said the "wrong thing" out loud to them. Both a badge of a honor and yet a lament when I hear her talk.
    Brenda--I can understand this because I used to be more like them to a lesser degree; it wasn't until I started working and being out in the "real world" after college that I realized I have to get along with all sorts of people; but it doesn't mean they all have to be my best friend. I don't have a whole lot of good friends. My husband is probably my best friend, and I'm grateful I found him. I have two pups like yours, too. Dogs are so noble and loyal.
    I feel for you when you talk about your two daughters. I admit I kind of feel for them, too, because my own mother was a little like you are. I never understood why she never wanted to go on trips with my dad and us when we were younger (and if she did, she made us all miserable). Even this weekend, my father is at my cousin's wedding sans my mother because she doesn't want to socialize with anyone. I asked her why she couldn't simply see it as a fun road trip and spend some time at the beach with family. She claimed she has nothing in common with my dad's family and would rather stay isolated. I guess I worry how it makes her look and sometimes wished she would just "suck it up" in situations like that. But she is almost 67. She won't change. I guess it's good my dad recognizes that and leaves her be.
    Anyway! A lot here that I can identify with. It seems like a lot of your followers "get" you and so do I. I hope your daughters come around soon and can recognize that now they are adults and should be able to have more sympathy and compassion for their mother. It can go both ways sometimes.

  21. Brenda, you have a gift for communicating with your words. I am amazed by your ability to put your thoughts into words. When you said "At the end of the day, we are simply who we are.", that hit home with me. Your thoughts are powerful and you are bring awareness to all of your readers for sure. Each reader who takes something good away from your blog makes the world a better place. Thank you for sharing your heartfelt thoughts.

  22. I think all of us struggle at times feeling like we don't fit in...I'm sorry that your relationship with your daughters is distant. I hope that you are still able to see little Andrew and be a part of his life.


I always enjoy reading your comments and having you join the conversation here at Cozy Little House. It is like having a gathering of friends sitting in my cozy apartment. Enjoying coffee and dessert, chatting and having a good time. I appreciate each and every one of you! However, if you are a no-reply commenter, I cannot reply via email to your questions or comments.

Back to Top