Wow, WHERE DO I START?
First of all, on the blogging front, there are two things that I should probably mention. Number one: the book for this week is the timeless awesomeness of The Growing Story by Ruth Krauss, but I will not be posting the review until Thursday. I pushed it back so that I could write this. Number two: many of you have asked me over the past few months about enjoyable kid-friendly tunes. Several others have asked about parenting books and activity books that I recommend. I promised to begin writing about music and adult-centric books several weeks ago and then life turned into a whirlwind. I haven’t forgotten, though, and I do have a few posts in the works.
THAT SAID, let’s talk about yesterday’s post, shall we?
As of this moment, just shy of one hundred and forty individuals have responded to yesterday’s post through the comment field or e-mail. That is many fewer people than respond when I write about parenting landmines like breastfeeding or circumcision – and many more than when I write about my gardening black thumb of death.
Most people responded favorably. They would do the same thing. Bravo. Good for you. Go, Momma. They hope they have the gall to do that. Better I overreacted standing up for the two of us than slunk away and fumed silently. Stuff like that.
But a few people responded unfavorably.
When you blog, you become accustomed to a certain level of vitriol in your daily life. People are endlessly creative when they are cruel. Sometimes I go for weeks without looking at my inbox because reading the insults takes a physical toll. When I read something truly hurtful, I toss and turn at night. I grind my teeth so hard that I wake up with a sore jaw. As a result, I never respond to hate-mail anymore.
On the other hand, I have not stopped responding to critical mail. I know that sometimes it may feel like I have no idea who you are or what you say here, but nothing could be further from the truth. I would not be the mother I am today without the community here stepping in and helping me out. Sometimes you help by patting me on the back and cheering me on. Sometimes you help by making me think, by asking me difficult questions that compel me to figure out what I believe. And sometimes you help by digging your feet in the ground and saying, um, NO.
There is a huge difference between writing to me saying you wish whores like me would die…and writing to me saying that you disagree, that you’re disappointed, that you are offended, etc. It is important to me to make this distinction.
It would have been very easy for me to not write the post I wrote yesterday. It would have been very easy for me to edit it to make myself look cool or to make the other woman involved look evil. It would have been very easy for me to fabricate my response. And although this blog is not a strictly honest blog – I exaggerate and I simplify and I omit ALL THE TIME – I do believe in fairly representing actual events as they pertain to my parenthood.
Before you cheer me on, before you say bravo and before you say go, momma, I want to tell you about the criticism because I believe that these voices are making a very valid point.
The criticism is (mostly) as follows:
1. I am no better than the other woman. I incited a young child to repeat swear words and then I insulted another mother about it.
2. I yelled at a playground. This scared my child and may have scared other children. Certainly it introduced other children to language their parents probably didn’t want them to hear.
3. I should not teach my daughter to respond to physical assault by verbal abuse. I should teach her to be the bigger person and walk away. What if she screamed at me and my daughter first because she was unstable? My reaction could have put my child and me in more danger than keeping my cool would have.
4. I am intelligent enough not to stoop to name-calling.
5. I owe that woman an apology.
6. I could have stood up for myself and my child by asking the other woman to step aside with me. By removing ourselves from the play area and keeping our children in the play area, we could have worked out our problem without such heightened emotions.
7. Most of all, my choice of words was unacceptable.
I am not going to defend myself. That’s not what this post is about. If you want a defense, you can refer to my responses in the comments yesterday or you can ask me directly. What I am going to do is open this topic up for discussion. If I were handed this situation over again, what would I do? If I see this woman again, how will I handle that situation? If this comes up again one day, how will I behave? If this comes up a generation down the line, how would I want my daughter to behave in the same circumstance?
I’m not perfect. I believe that I’m a damned fine mother and a pretty reasonable overall person, but I know that I made a mistake. The exhausting, sincerely exhausting, work of parenthood is in acknowledging a mistake, finding ways to improve, and striving to be a better person the next day. That other woman should not have touched my child, she should not have yelled at her, she should not have insulted both of us, but that doesn’t mean that my outburst was warranted. And if it was warranted, that doesn’t mean that the way I handled that opportunity was appropriate. My challenge to you now is this: think over your initial reaction and think over the criticism too. You know that Dr. Seuss quote about how a person is a person no matter how small? Well an idea is an idea no matter how unpopular. Think over how you would react in my shoes…and how you would want to react. Think over what you would want your kid to do in that situation.
What do you think now?
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