(Note, mostly to myself, so I’ll remember later: This is the first day my blog has been offline in many many years. At the moment, I’m writing this not knowing if or when I’ll make it public again. I’m essentially writing for an audience of one. If that doesn’t make for more honest writing, I don’t know what does)
I hate back-to-school season. I really do. I mean, on the one hand, it doesn’t even affect me.Our life doesn’t follow a school schedule, so it really doesn’t make any difference to me what time of year it is. And then there’s positives of back-to-school time, like the fact that the parks, zoos, museums, etc are all quiet again.
But there’s a whole host of things I observe this time of year that just stress. me. the. heck. out. Which means I piss more people off this time of year than any other. And it doesn’t matter how I temper my words, doesn’t matter how diplomatically I try to speak, doesn’t matter how good my intentions. People are on edge and defensive and deduce that it’s all my fault for having an opinion. Or voicing it. Or existing.
And the thing is, I’m cool with respectful disagreements. I’m cool with discussions. I’m cool with passive aggressive, I-disagree-with-you-but-don’t-want-to-get-into-it comments like, “Hm. Interesting.” The thing I will never be cool with (and in fact the thing that ultimately pushed me over the edge into believing a good long break was my only option) is the people taking me to task for THINGS I NEVER SAID.
And I get it, I do. Emotions are high, we all have our own crap to deal with, and we’re defensive. We read something that creates cognitive dissonance for us, and we react. Doesn’t matter at the moment whether or not what we’ve just read actually does say what we’ve projected onto it. We’re pissed off and we’re gonna let people know it. The problem – for me – is that you then spew at me and you feel better and go about your day. But I deal with not just your anger, but the anger from the 50 other people who felt the same way. And the next day, when the 51 of you have all moved on, there’s a new batch of people angry, or hurt, or crying about the fact that they’re disappointed in me. It never stops. It literally never stops. My own blog has become a veritable source of “Let me tell you why you suck.” I can’t apologize to the world every day. And I WON’T apologize for being me.
What I can do is provide you with the following handy little chart. The next time you read something I write and are about to hit “send” on your little diatribe telling me what a horrible person I am, you can double-check the chart and see if I REALLY said what you’re so sure I said. If I didn’t… well, say what you want, but it’s a reflection of you, not me.
Unless I expressly say these words (hint: it hasn’t happened yet) the things I write DO NOT MEAN any of the following:
You’re a terrible parent who hates her kids. It seems ridiculous to even have to expressly write it, but my sharing an opinion on something related to parenting is not exactly the same thing as calling someone a terrible parent. Or accusing her of hating her kids. It is the grossest of leaps to make, and yet it’s something I see, verbatim, over and over and over. I’m not calling anyone a terrible parent.
I’m a better parent than you. The other day I went to the store with the two little ones. It was four in the afternoon. Tegan says to me as we pull into the grocery store. ”I’m starving. I haven’t eaten anything all day!” A few minutes after that, as we walked into the store, I gave Everett a verbal list of about 5 things to remember. I’d forgotten the (relatively short) list at home, and didn’t have anything to jot it down on. He looked at me with a deadpan expression that could have come from his 14 year old brother and said, “Geez. Forgetting to feed us, now making us remember the grocery list. You’re the worst mother in the world.” They keep me humble. It should go without saying, but the truth is, I’m as perfectly imperfect as the next parent, and would never pretend otherwise.
Homeschooling is the only answer. Of course homeschooling isn’t the only answer. Obviously, we’ve found it the best and right choice for us, otherwise we wouldn’t be doing it. Everyone should be confident in their own choices! But happiness with my own choices is not the same thing as condemnation for your choices. And I don’t care where your kids go to school. Really.
People who send their kids to school don’t love them. Some of the best, most loving parents I know send their kids to school. Wonderful and loving parents do all KINDS of things that I’ve chosen to do differently with my own family. These differences are what make life interesting. They do NOT make me, or them, any more or less loving than the next family. It’s ludicrous to suggest that someone who does something differently than you doesn’t love their children…. and equally ludicrous to accuse me of the same.
Wanting a break/getting tired/having struggles makes you a bad parent. Want to know a secret? Every time I go to the bathroom, I take at least an extra minute longer than it actually takes to use the toilet and wash my hands. An extra minute to breathe. An extra minute to pray. An extra minute to put on some lotion/smell some essential oils/refresh my lip gloss. An extra minute to just BE. Parenting is hard, and we all have our struggles. I get that. I GET THAT. It would get a little redundant (and obnoxious) if I prefaced everything I wrote with, “I understand that parenting is hard….” so let me just state for the record, once, that I DO understand that parenting is hard, and I AM aware that we all – all of us – have our struggles.
I AM JUDGING YOU. Oh sweet baby Jesus, the JUDGING comments. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve been called judgmental, I would be writing this in an upscale cafe in Tuscany… NOT on my old and stained couch in my sweatpants and holey t-shirt in my middle middle class neighborhood in Phoenix. First, a definition of “judgement:”
an opinion or decision that is based on careful thought. : the act or process of forming an opinion or making a decision after careful thought
We all judge, every day. When you’re pointing your finger at me, and crying about how judgmental I am, you too are engaging in the “act or process of forming and opinion or making a decision.” Thanks for the nice dialogue, pot. I’m the kettle.
Beyond that though, is this pernicious idea that I’m always filtering everything through a veil of Homeschooling is best / I’m an awesome parent / You’re a terrible parent / You must hate your kids. Guess what? I’m not. I get that it makes you feel better to think that about me when I tick you off, but that doesn’t make it any more true. And of course the great irony here is that your little snips to me about my needing to have more grace for others, more understanding, more support, and yes, less judgment, should go in both directions. But they never do.
Yesterday I got a big speech about judging someone for not homeschooling….. on a post that had literally NOTHING to do with homeschooling. Homeschooling wasn’t even in the back of my mind. I think that was the point that tipped me over into the realm of, “I give up.” Truly. I cannot currently handle even one more comment judging me for - ironically enough – judging something I’m not even judging.
If this had been a “real”
emergency blog post, I would painstakingly craft a suitable ending that would tie it all up in a neat little bow. But I just realized (with a sudden blinding burst of wonderful freedom) that I’m no longer writing for anyone but myself. So I’m just gonna stop writing.
Let the healing begin.