Oh, Issa…

Sometimes, I take some time to peruse the offerings over at BlogHer, a network for women bloggers, featuring posts by those bloggers. Sometimes I like what I read, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I comment, most times I don’t. But this article by Issa Waters…no matter how I tried to compact all I needed to say into a comment that people wouldn’t dismiss as TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read), I simply have too much to say. First, go have a read. It’s okay, go on, I’ll wait here.

Did you read it? I’m going to assume you did.

I get it. I really do. She’s attempting, and failing (Sorry, Issa, but it’s true…), to get across the point that “parenting is hard” is never an excuse for blatantly abusive behaviors. But goodness, this article totally rubbed me the wrong way before she even got into her point.

Parenting isn’t hard.

Well, okay, sometimes it’s hard.

Sometimes it’s hard to contain all this love that I feel for my child, and I’m worried I’m just going to snatch him up and squeeze him to bits in a fit of overly-emotional love-smush.

Sometimes it’s hard to fathom the future and that someday there will be a 6-year-old, an 11-year-old, a 17-year-old living here, and someday a 25-year-old not living here, living out in the world instead where I can’t watch over him.

Sometimes it’s hard to love him so deeply and yet not be able to take his hurts away. I am sometimes bowed in this powerlessness.

Sometimes it’s hard to realize that I am his whole world right now and that his trust is vast and complete. I tremble before this power.

I realize that this article was written over a year ago. I can only hope that Issa is still basking in the babymoon. Judging from a lot of the comments, I was not alone in reading that part up there, rolling my eyes, and thinking “Gee whiz…hope it isn’t too cold on top of that high horse she’s sitting on”. I might have been more willing to listen had she followed that with a tale of how her patience is sometimes tested. Something to make her seem human and less of a Stepford Mother. Yes, I have moments when I look at my children, and I just want to hug them so tightly that they just meld into my flesh and stay safe forever. And yes, those moments are MANY. There is no denying that sometimes the love we have for our children is overwhelming.

Yet in the brief article, Issa manages to alienate most readers by, in one short paragraph, making it seem as though she never loses patience with her child, and never once thinks “Can I go back to sleeping in until noon and staying out until 5am?”. She compares the act of a very possibly overwhelmed mother yelling at her child in a McDonalds to an adult couple doing the same (both couple and mother/child are hypothetical…I think).

Issa, you need to get one thing clear. Adults are not children. Children, in their lives, need guidance, need taught right from wrong, need to be taught manners/social skills/proper interactions. Adults have already been given that. Or not, I’ve met some pretty rude adults…

Point is, you come off more than a little holier than thou, and in doing so, lost the chance to make the wonderful point you seemed to be trying to make. You wanted to say that to say parenting is hard does not justify obviously abusive behaviors. And I agree.

But let me tell you the story of when I was like you, with one child who had not yet reached the “terrible twos” or even the age where tantrums start coming into play. (I find it important to note that, when the article was written, in January of 2012, Issa’s completely ADORABLE son was 7 months old)

I too almost climbed up on that high horse. Before SchoolGirl was brought into the world, I read the books. I made lists. Things I’d never do.

I’d never spank my child. I’d never yell. I’d never be uncool or unfair. My kid would love the crap out of me because I was going to be the most awesome mom ever and my kid was going to be the most awesome kid ever.

I never had a chance to climb on that high horse of the first time parenthood babymoon, because when SG was 2 weeks old, she developed a wicked case of colic. Screaming all day, screaming all night. I don’t know how she did it, but she even screamed while gulping down a bottle (because my first goal of awesome motherhood, breastfeeding, failed when my milk failed to come in…until she was 3 days into colic…but by then she wanted nothing to do with the boob). I handled it with patience, grace, and humility.

Hah! Just kidding!!! By day 2 I was crying almost as much as her. By the end of week 1, I had lost 15lbs, my hair hung in greasy strands, and there were circles so dark under my eyes that more than one person stopped me to tell me that I deserved so much better than the abuse I obviously was being dealt.

By the end of the month, I had stopped speaking, for the most part. I’d lost 30lbs, and my doctor was growing alarmed. Thanks to a couple of friends, I managed a shower here and there, along with a nap and a meal, but I still looked like hell. But though my patience was tested, no, more like completely SHATTERED, what could I do? It was beyond my baby’s control. She couldn’t help it.

That bout of colic lasted one more month before finally going away. But though I didn’t realize it at the time, that bout of colic imbued within me a reserve of patience that I had to draw on many times once SG began becoming independent, and hit those terrible twos…

I have spanked my kids. Sorry…correction…I have smacked the back of my kids’ hands. Or a fluffy diapered behind. But…it was only when the consequence of them repeating the offending action could get them maimed or killed (ie, sticking a finger in a socket, running out into the street). I remember each time, and between my three children, I have smacked them a grand total of maybe 10 times.

Have I yelled at my kids in public? Yes, but more along the lines of “SG! Stay over here with me and stop running off!!! Someone could snatch you!!!”

I never call my children names. I never belittle them. I do not yank. I scold gently. I have raised my voice in public, but rarely, because I have taken my duty to guide them very seriously, and they have impeccable manners in public. At home? That’s a different story. They are still well-mannered, but at home, I expect them to cut up and go nuts. Sure, on rough days there can be a lot of yelling, but everyone is allowed to be human.

I hope that the past 13 months since you wrote that article have been a time of growth for you, Issa. Because while the point you were trying to make is a valid and noble one, the article fell woefully short because it was very hard for a lot of moms to see past the condescending mannerism to the heart of what you were trying to say. Your article did not allow itself enough length to delve into your point.

Mamas, I would love to hear your input, your stories of tested patience, heck, I’d even love to hear about a day when you pulled it all off. You know those days…everything goes right, kids are happy and hubbies think you’re some kind of domestic goddess queen who is just in her freaking element!!

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