Vulnerablity

I have always enjoyed writing but never felt like I had something worth writing about until I had Caroline. The intensity of motherhood, the insanity of co-parenting, and the deep love I had for her compelled me to write it all down. Looking back at my blog posts is like reading my journal. It makes me laugh and it makes me cry. Blogging, however, is not journaling because I am posting my thoughts and feelings in cyberspace. I'm sharing my opinion with the whole world, or at least my friends and family and facebook-land. It's a very vulnerable place to be but it is also empowering. I'm often validated by the positive feedback I receive from a post. I just love to hear that someone else relates to what I've written or has found it touching or humorous. I'm delighted when I learn that someone has read it aloud (I always try to read each post aloud to Andy but he refuses and insists on reading it to himself.)even if it is to her annoyed husband who is sick of my bitching.

Sometimes readers don't like what I have written, disagree with my commentary, and on occasion, they let me know it. Maybe I was trying to be funny and insulted someone. Or I didn't totally articulate my thought and it came across wrong. I know more than once that I've made a foe of a hubby who thinks I'm rude and nasty and not kind to Andy. When this happens I have to confess that I think about not writing anymore. I feel hurt and angry and want to hole up in a shell and keep my ideas protected. Yet, after a day or two, I realize that I can't stop writing because as long as one person connects to the blog, I don't care if others don't. My reader, you are entitled to your opinion and I am entitled to mine. I am entitled to post my opinion online and you are entitled to read it and to then agree or disagree. This rule goes for everyone out there writing and reading blogs.

I write this preface because I am now going to tell you about a blog that I disagree with. I'm all about mommy blogs and mom power, particularly through the written word, but it is a wide world of diversity out there and just because we are moms doesn't mean we are going to see eye to eye about all things parental. I recently came across a post in which a mom writes about how there is not always a "fix" for the difficult child. Her blog is great. She is funny, articulate, and sincere. I just don't agree. I read the blog several times and the more I thought about it, the angrier I became. In her blog, the author talks about her toddler who has a difficult personality. She expresses frustration that those around her always recommend a reason why her daughter exhibits difficult behavior (difficult meaning tantrums, fussiness, strong-willed, etc.) and she comments that her daughter has nothing WRONG with her. She writes, "I could make up excuses for my child. I could blame it on something that is beyond our control. Or I could try to control the situation in every way possible." She goes on to say that rather than blame an "ethereal factor" on her kid's actions, she chooses to blame it on a)chance and b) herself and need to buck up as a parent.

Listen, mom-blogger, I hear you. I totally get it and I know what you mean. All kids are different and it doesn't mean that there is something broken with them that we need to fix. Hell, I was one difficult kid with amazing tantrums and a diva-like attitude and my brother wasn't a picnic either. Could my mom and dad have been better parents? Could they have made some stronger parenting decisions? Yes. Couldn't we all? I spend the conclusion of each day second guessing my actions. Would I have turned out any better of a person if Mom and Dad been more consistent, firm, loving and boundary-setting? Sure. Or not. Maybe I would have acted the same and turned out the same.

This blogger is not saying it outright and maybe she wasn't implying this at all, but I interpreted that her words are a statement against a culture of labeling. Do all hyperactive kids have ADHD? Do they have a gluten intolerance that is making them act wild? Why are so many kids being diagnosed with food allergies or autism? Why now? Why not before? Are these labels scapegoats for bad parenting? Are these labels, and the kids who exhibit the behaviors resulting in these labels, a symbol of a sloppier mom? Is a label an "out" for a parent? Is saying something is "wrong" with a child a way for a parent to escape criticism? Should it be?

I just want you to think about this. Does a sloppy parent attend countless parent-teacher meetings to advocate for his child and discuss the challenges his child faces each day at school? Does a lazy mom travel hours, and meet over and over with specialists, and then stay up at night reading about words told to her like, "mental retardation", "autism", "stroke in utero", "cerebral palsy","aspergers", "dysgraphia" "dyslexia", or "unspecified developmental delay"? Does a family who has a child with a labeled disability have a "get out of jail free card" when their son or daughter is in the grocery store screaming at the top of their lungs or eating food off the floor at a restaurant? Do they get to just look around, smile, and say, "No worries. It's not me. It's her. I AM A GOOD PARENT WHO GOT STUCK WITH A BAD KID!" Do parents with a child who has a disability not argue at the dinner table about parenting styles, being more structured, setting better boundaries, being firmer? Does a child with a label not push her mom to be a better parent? Does using a term in association with a kid fix them?

Yes, some kids are "easier" to parent than others. Yes, some challenging kids are not meant to be labeled. Some challenging kids are. That label does not exist so that the child's family can feel less guilty about not being the best parent. Families don't decide to pursue a diagnosis so they can sit back and suck at parenting. Moms and Dads seek guidance from medical professionals and educators so that they can be better parents; so that they can provide their child with everything he or she needs; so they can understand their child better. Sometimes, these families may feel down about it and wish that the kid could be "fixed" but most of the time, they know they'll love the kid no matter what. Just like you, mom-blogger, parents struggle with these issues and we all feel equal amounts of tears and joy as we navigate parenting each individual child.

In conclusion, you can agree with me, or disagree with me. I'm not asking you to take sides. I respect all mom-bloggers, and this one in particular, for their honesty and ability to share their experience with others and find strength in admitting vulnerability.

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