My Open Letter to the Haters – For Jill at Baby Rabies.January 12th, 2012
I don’t usually do this. I don’t usually write open letters on my blog, or even engage in any of the mommy war bullshit. I won’t judge you, and I won’t let you judge me. You can try, have your thoughts about who I am or how I parent, you can even talk about me behind my back, that is all fine. I really don’t care. The truth is, not one of you is even close to being as critical of me as I am of myself. So when people are judging me, for the most part, I just ignore. it. A good friend once told me that when people are trying to bring you down, it’s only means you are above them. And it’s true. So all the bullshit about AP parents versus other types, or working versus staying at home moms, or purple haired vs. never been died doesn’t apply to me. You do it your way, and I’ll do it mine. If we are lucky, we’ll both learn something new we can share with each other, and that is that.
However this time, you people (and by “you people” I mean you self righteous, judgmental, dramatic, alarmist mom bully types) have gone too far. You’ve publicly called out one of my favourite bloggers alive, and I can’t just let it go. It’s not that she cannot defend herself, because she can. The woman is all that and a slice of cake. It’s just that I’m angry, and the subject is one of the few things I am passionate about in motherhood. And that’s sleep training. (I shouldn’t say it’s the one thing I’m passionate about. More, it’s the one thing that will have my blood boiling faster than you can say “psychological damage”.).
Here is the the thing, I started out with all the best intentions. Having both a best friend and sister who had employed sleep training methods, the idea didn’t sit well with me. I mean, they are babies, they will learn to sleep, you just need to give them time. And letting them cry is cruel, your babies should never want for anything, and keeping them content is your only job. There are easy ways to teach your kids to sleep, and I was going to prove to everyone that it could be done….it’s funny how much you know about parenting before you have kids.
If we move many months later, we are faced with me, on the verge of a nervous breakdown, completey batshit crazy. You can read about MY post on CIO here. And I’ll warn you, if you think what Jill said was bad or wrong? Then you already aren’t going to like me.
At the end of the day, I am pro sleep and pro sanity, and I am also pro knowing your limits. I think that is one of my biggest regrets from the early days with Everly, I didn’t know my limits. I didn’t know how to ask for help, or be honest about how I was feeling, and I certainly didn’t know how to make tough decisions about things like sleep, for the benefit of my family.
So it angers me, greatly, when I see misinformed women pushing their own beliefs and selfish agendas onto people, especially new mothers.
Now of course, Jill isn’t new to this game. She is 1 year into being the mother of 2 children. She can (and does) teach me a boatload of things about parenting. And here is my point, many other NEW mothers turn to Jill for support. Be it through her blog, her Facebook page, or her Twitter, Jill is all up in the interwebs, being an accidental authority on parenting (and by that I mean, I suspect she didn’t intend to take over the internet with her blog, but she has, and now she is she is bound to a certain level of discretion in what she says…unlike me, who can piss off whomever I choose). So when these crazy alarmist bully moms are spouting complete and utter bullshit all over Jill’s Facebook page? New mothers are seeing this, and that’s adding to the guilt they are already experiencing because they’ve given life and that seems to come with the package. People turn to Jill for her honesty, and if she lied or sugar coated the challenges of this, should would be a doing a much greater disservice to life than she is by teaching her daughter to sleep.
I read some comments about readers claiming to recall being left to cry for hours upon hours at 9 months old, and how they now suffer PTSD from that. What a fucking load of crap. First of all, if your parents let you cry FOR HOURS on end, then I suspect they were lacking in other area’s of their parenting as well, and perhaps the PTSD isn’t entirely related to that one time you had to cry so your mom could take a poop. Also, there is no fucking CHANCE you remember being 9 months old. It’s not possible, honestly, can you even remember yesterday? If anything, your therapist is using the awesome trick of helping you construct memories so you have a scapegoat for all the shitty things in your life. That is your problem, not Jill’s.
I read all the comments about how Jill chose to have a baby, and thus chose to care for that baby. I read that it was cruel to leave your child to cry so you could do something selfish like sleep or rest, and how part of being a parent is giving your all. And that is true, part of being a parent IS giving your all, but what do you do when there is nothing left to give?
Let’s pretend for a moment that Jill could heed all the wonderful assvice she is getting. How she should just learn to sleep when the baby is sleeping, and accept that parenting is hard and sometimes you have to make sacrifices. Sure, that makes sense, and if Jill was a SAHM with a rich husband, cleaning people and NO OTHER CHILDREN, that even MAY be viable (though, my child only napped when I was physically pushing her in the stroller or driving her around, so THEN WHAT ASSHOLES? Last time I checked, sleeping while driving was a no-no. I mean, I guess not as bad as your child shedding a tear because it would only be killing innocent ADULTS and not allowing a 1 year old to cry). However, Jill isn’t a SAHM to a single child with no other responsibilities. She has a toddler, and active little boy who she is also caring for. Sleeping when the baby is sleeping means, theoretically neglecting the older child, so is that the way? Is it ok that her son, her first born, be neglected and ignored so she can catch some sleep? Are we not worrying about HIS psychological welfare? Apparently not. Let him run free in the house, JUST DON’T LET HIS SISTER CRY.
Or perhaps, she should ask for help and get someone to come over so she can take a nap. You know, so that she can spend 2 hours trying to sleep while consumed with guilt for not being able to handle it all, while simultaneously being so amped up on sleep deprivation induced anxiety that she’s physically shaking. I am CERTAIN that a 2 hour nap and someone to do the dishes once or twice would cue all that ails her AND teach her daughter to sleep. SIMPLE RIGHT?
Or, how about if you’re like me, and your child is a tension RELEASE crier, who actually needs a few moments to settle on her own before falling asleep? Pretend for a moment that this concept goes against everything you’re taught about babies, so you spend weeks upon weeks trying to soothe your child to sleep, all the while exacerbating the issue. You try co-sleeping but your child doesn’t want to sleep with you after she has self weaned at 13 months, and would rather play play play, or cry right next to you. Then you read an article or two like this one on Ask Moxie, and learn that you’re attempt at parenting your child to sleep may actually be causing more harm than good. Then pretend you accept that as possible, and offer your child a chance to do what she needs, and you learn that 4 hours of parenting to sleep could be solved with 8 minutes of fussing? Now where is your pedestal girls?
Let’s not forget that having children means adding to you life, not giving it up. Yes, you’re responsible for them. Yes, any good mother will sacrifice whatever she needs to care for her children, and yes, Jill understood all of that long before she had her second child. All that said, what about her? Becoming a mother does not mean you suddenly become a robot who lacks basic needs (though you wouldn’t know it by our lack of eating, sleeping, showering and peeing). And further, caring for your kids requires you to care for yourself. I don’t give a shit what kind of lies you’re spouting off to the internet, you’re not a fucking stepford wife, and everyone has a breaking point. Maybe you’re an amazing person who thrives on stress and anxiety, who never needs to sleep and who can take the psychological torture your darling children sometimes deliver. Maybe you are all that and a bag of chips, but even if that’s the case, YOU are the anomaly and not Jill, and you should never ever ever make any other mother feel inadequate for trying to take care of her needs. If you’re ignoring yourself, your children are going to suffer much larger consequences as they grow, especially when you start to put perfectionist pressure on them for everything.
It is that kind of bullshit that has every second mother I know diagnosed with some form of PPD.
Jill sought out to make a change in her life, the life she and her husband have built for their family. She didn’t put her child down and let her scream so she could get a pedicure, she isn’t watching Oprah while her children are locked in their rooms, and she isn’t sitting there content and happy with herself as her darling daughter tries to figure out her shit. She didn’t say she let her kid cry for hours, or even that that was ever an option. She simply detailed a plan for sleep that took everyone’s needs into consideration, because THAT is what a good mother does. She is a caring and compassionate woman, who is at her wits end and needs to do something before a real tragedy occurs. Jill did her due diligence here. I sent her an eBook I used on gentle sleep training, and at the point that someone like Jill, with a million followers and expert parenting resources at her finger tips reaches out to a small blogger like me, to collect (in her words) “any advice or ideas on how to get her daughter to sleep”, you know she’s giving it her all. She didn’t make this decision with a callous heart. She isn’t one of those women who are crying in their latte when their 5 week old isn’t sleeping all night, and she certainly didn’t make this choice just to piss you self righteous bitches off. She did what she needed to do for her family.
If you don’t like it? That’s your choice. You don’t have to read about it, you don’t have to agree with it, and if you want, you can even offer constructive feedback about why you made the choices you made for your family. In fact, Jill is one of the most receptive bloggers I know to that sort of thing. But flaming her? Threatening a CPS call? Being a complete and utter bitch? Trying to pile on guilt or pass your inadequacies onto her? Is not acceptable. She put herself out there, and is honest and true to who she is. Even if you don’t respect the choices she and her husband made for her family, you should at least respect her as another mother and human being.
I for one am proud of Jill for making a choice, and trying to make healthy changes for her family. I am proud of her for putting it out there, even though she KNEW what kind of response it would get. That says a lot about her, about the type of person and parent she is. It says a lot about how hard this whole thing has been for her. It says a lot about how she is raising those kids. If you can’t be a decent human being, then go back to raising your children to be assholes just like you….because fuck it, at least they aren’t crying when the push people down right?
Being a bully is ugly, no matter how you try to cover it up.