Archived Opinion

If it means reconnecting with my gypsy soul, I’m in

op barbeeOne Friday night in October my husband and I were dining at the bar at Frog’s Leap when I realized Smoky Mountain News Editor Scott McLeod was next to us enjoying a beer and an order of truffle fries. He and I began chatting about his kids, my kids, mutual friends and ultimately landed on the topics of writing and journalism. He asked what sorts of topics I write about and which publications I write for.



Even though I spend countless hours writing every week, I felt myself fumbling for an answer. My immediate response would have involved a number of words like “parenting” and “mom blog” and “family.” So I decided to be honest and answered with something along the lines of, “Up to this point, I’ve written a lot about parenting and family topics, but I really want to get into magazine writing and other types of writing outside of the parenting world.”

Then he said, “We need to talk. And I think we need another order of truffle fries.”

Several weeks later we met for coffee at City Bakery and that’s when he asked if I wanted to write an “edgy” column for The Smoky Mountain News. During the hour-long meeting, I nodded my head with enthusiasm as if I knew exactly what he meant by that word. But in the days that followed, I felt my brow furrowing often as I contemplated the meaning of “edgy.” 

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Am I edgy? I think I might be. 

People who only know me in passing would probably say that I’m sweet and smiley but not particularly edgy, but those who know me well would hopefully say that while I am nice (sometimes too nice), I am very edgy. Just in my own way. 

I’m not one to cuss all day or spout my opinions in the middle of a public place. I don’t have tattoos (though I really want one) or piercings all over my body (though I once did). I don’t post slightly scandalous or controversial statements on my social media channels, but I am real on my channels and work hard not to portray my life as perfect and blissful when in truth, no one’s is.

And even if I wasn’t a mom and a community member and a principal’s wife, I don’t think I would be this kind of edgy. And I would never try to write a column pretending like I am because it would clearly sound forced. 

Nevertheless, I feel like when I really dig down, I am my own type of edgy. I have many clear opinions, though I try to articulate them gracefully. I’ve traveled a jagged path through life which has simultaneously given me thick skin and a compassionate heart. I am not willing to settle for the status quo, hence my four career changes since graduating college. I have insane willpower, a stubborn will, my own style, my own musical taste, my own mind. 

In fact, I think all women are edgy by default, but so many of the fairer sex lose their edge when life and parenthood and motherhood and wifehood (if that’s even a word) storm in and take over. When a person’s entire day is spent nurturing others, managing a home, using words like “potty” and “night-night” and “blanky,” it’s hard to resurrect even a semblance of edginess. 

I love being a mom. It’s the most amazing job I never knew I always wanted, but I’ve finally learned, seven years in, that it doesn’t have to come at the expense of my own gypsy soul, my own edginess. 

As we start this new column at The Smoky Mountain News, a column written by women, my hope is that some of our female readers will dig into their own personalities and remember their edginess, whatever that may mean. 

(Susanna Barbee is a local mom, writer and educator. Find more on her blog, Reach her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

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