Random Thoughts: Hand-Wringing Edition

And possibly a little late to the party, so to speak.

Kate Vietje caused a little dust-up in the blog-o-sphere last week (or maybe the week before) by admitting — in public, on-line — that she maybe didn’t love both her children equally.

A few of my thoughts, and many a link:

1. If this author *had* lost a child, she would not think about which child it would be easier to lose now. She would know it hurts to lose a child, period, and speculating that maybe it would be easier to lose her daughter because of the way she felt about her daughter (i.e. that her daughter is more demanding or more challenging than her son) is useless.

In the author’s defense, she never wishes her daughter was dead, and she avers her love for both her children repeatedly. Should she have written what she did? Probably not. What responsibility does Babble have in promoting the controversy? Probably quite a bit.

2. A great number of commenters observe that when/if her daughter ever reads this post, she will be devastated by it. Their point mostly being (I think) that these private thoughts should never have been made public.

I think that a lot of people judged this woman very harshly for speaking her mind, for telling part of her story. I think mothers’ stories, and mothers’ voices need to be out there, “telling it like it is”. Whether there are lines one shouldn’t cross is still being worked out. For better or worse. See number one.

3. This mothering gig is hard (and, yes, the fathering gig is too). In my opinion, the more people out there telling it like it is (@mattieflap, for example), and admitting that the mothering gig is hard (Heather Sobieralski, at Owning Pink, for example), the better for parents in general. The community has changed, has moved online, and I, for one, am glad.

4. Catherine Connors (Her Bad Mother) skates an interesting line, in my opinion. While she might be writing from a place of love and affection, she also, in another post, defies anyone who tells her to shut up. Would she ever admit to loving one of her children more than the other? I don’t know. When she writes that the thought of losing either of them fills her with terror, I completely believe her. And I also believe that this is a more common feeling in parents with more than one child: That we can’t contemplate losing any of them without breaking out in a cold sweat.

5. I was furious with Michael last week. I was so mad he wouldn’t sleep. I hated that he was sick, and sometimes in my sleep-deprived state, I felt like I hated him.

I don’t hate him, of course, I love him deeply and unbearably. But, oh, how I sobbed Friday night when he woke me, again, from sleep. Sobbed so hard, that Dan took him from me, and sent me off to rest, if I could rest.

I rested, and two hours later, I took him once more from Dan. And two hours after that, Dan took him again.

And that is parenthood in a nutshell sometimes. Sometimes the kid doesn’t sleep, and you get mad at the kid. It’s okay, and I think it’s okay to say that. To speak the experience of parenthood. And a lot of the “oh, but think of the CHILDREN” clap trap out there is just another form of oppression. Or repression, depending if it’s external or internal.

Look, the kids are going to be fine. Psychology came into being long before blogging, so people going into therapy for one reason or another isn’t anything new. If Vietje’s daughter decides to cut her mother out of her life, it’s not going to be because of that blog post. It’s going to be because of her mother’s actions, not her words.

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5 thoughts on “Random Thoughts: Hand-Wringing Edition

  1. I wasn’t even aware of the controversy going on but your take on it was spot on, in my opinion.

    And thanks for the shout out. It always startles me when I see stuff like that (the couple times it’s happened) because I just assume no one reads my ramblings. :P

    • I stumbled across the controversy on Slate, and then read HMB’s take on it, and had a few thoughts of my own. My thoughts kind of tied into what you had written, as well as the blogger over at Owning Pink, so I thought I should mention that, too. :)

  2. I remember one particular when my daughter (my oldest) was about two months old. It was 3 a.m. and I had been up with her countless times already. My husband had to catch an early flight, so I was on my own. I wanted to shove the pacifier she kept refusing in her mouth, put her in her bassinet, walk out the front door, and keep on going. I really, really wanted to. But I didn’t. I stayed right there, crying right along with her through the night.

    Point is, I think you’re exactly right. Thinking something and saying it out loud or actually doing it are two very different things. But in many ways, the blogosphere is just a public forum for getting our thoughts out, isn’t it? And, really, which one of us can judge? We’ve all been there, even if we never say it out loud.

    PS: Hope your little guy is on the mend very soon!! (That deserves two exclamation marks.)

    • Oh, yes, the binky. I was up at 1 a.m., 3 a.m., and 5 a.m. this morning replacing M’s binky before he woke all the way up. I wish those things came with velcro or sticky-stuff that just fastened on somehow!! ;)

      I think Vietje was judged because she talks about “losing” her children, and how she could accept losing her daughter easier than losing her son. She never says anything about anyone dying, but a lot of people took it that way. She clarified what she meant by “lose”, but the damage was done. As I say in number one, if she had experienced true baby loss or child loss, she wouldn’t even let it cross her mind.

  3. Although emotional honesty is (often) commendable, Kate Vietje should not have written what she did in a public forum that her daughter may someday find. . .and read. Children who are less favored do not need to be told or read this information, as we usually already intuit it. Nonetheless, it hurts to hear it “from the source,” especially in detail. Don’t rub it it.

    I knew from the time I was fairly young that my mother probably didn’t love me as much as my elder sister: my mother (perhaps even more than my father) wanted a son, I was a premature baby in an era before preemie/parent bonding was encouraged in hospital nurseries, and as an infant I was diagnosed with a minor congenital defect that eventually required surgery. Although all these factors probably contributed initially to my less-favored status, what maintained it was the fact that my mother recognized two of her own “negative” personality traits in me. Like her, I’m generally quiet yet often stubborn. . .only more so! Knowing that what she REALLY dislikes about me are some of the same things she dislikes about herself means I can bear her rejection, sometimes even in good humor: my mother couldn’t “disown” me if she tried!

    At risk of starting another controversial discussion, if I had children and one was born with medical problems, I would probably love the ill or disabled child more. I’m not saying this is a natural reaction for most people or even a good thing, as I believe parents should love their children as equally as possible. However, I have an “advocate” personality and tend to fight for the underdog.

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