I saw this on MSN and posted a few times on Facebook.
So yeah, I get it bonding isn't instant for every parent. I don't love everything El D does. I even LOATHED certain stages. I even completely dislike some of his habits. But him? I love him. He is a child and deserves my love and understanding... but the author's own judgment of her child makes me all feel all stabby...and I think she's an asshole. A total asshole.
Anyone else? Am I just clutching my pearls? Whatcya think?
I could tell what this mom's deal was from the first paragraph (and to her credit, she eventually gets there by like page 3) - she walked into parenting thinking her kid was going to be a certain way, and they weren't. The end. We all, on some level, want our child to have our best qualities, and to make us proud, and to be a good, happy human being, someone we want to admire. But sometimes they're not. Kids are imperfect, just like we are imperfect. It's just too bad it took this person so long to figure it out.
I think what's a little more reprehensible here is that the author treats her child's diagnosis as her catalyst for changing her judgments - makes it sound like it's "bad" to judge your child if there's something legitimately "wrong" with them, but okay to judge if they're perfectly normal but not the kid you imagined. There are lots of kids who are weird and skinny and weak and antisocial, and there's not a damn thing wrong with them, and it's just as damaging for those kids to be judged.
I see this as different than having personality conflicts with a child that make relationships difficult, or the kid going through stages that make them hard to be around - the author says in the first sentence that "I wanted this kind of child, and I got that one" then spends the rest of the essay explaining why she held it against her child.
Wow. It's hard to read someone being so critical about their child, and the mean, judgmental language she used really rubbed me the wrong way too. It seems to me that there is a big difference between not liking everything your child does, or every behavior, and straight up not liking your kid because you think her behavior is "weak" and "strange" and "anti-social".
There is also a piece that is sticking out for me about feeling early on that something wasn't right, and it seeming pretty obvious that her kid was suffering. She talks about doctors and developmental specialists not finding anything wrong, but the behavior she describes (freaking out over certain sounds, not making eye contact, seeming to be unable to play or engage with other children) seems to speak to a very heightened sensitivity, at the very least, and I found myself irritated that she didn't advocate more on her daughter's behalf. (This is an issue that I am way too close to, in my own family, and tend to get a little worked up about.)
Anyway, I'm coming down on the side of asshole, too.
My friends were talking about this on Facebook today. I'll tell you what I told them: Portraying yourself as a "bad mommy" is one of the surest ways to get an article published. Sad but true.
If this article was meant to 'help' other women who might find themselves in the same situation...then I'm not sure it's helping or not. Otherwise, I have no idea why this was even published.You can't see yourself in anyone else if you can't find a way to sympathise. And this author makes it nearly impossible.
I also have a problem with the 'diagnosis' somehow making everything okay. What if there hadn't been one? Would she have learned to see past her daughters' quirks at some point? Or would the child have grown up constantly wanting validation from her mother that she would never get?
MightyNinja...You expressed my thoughts exactly. What if there were no diagnosis? It's almost as if the fact that there was one allowed this person to justify feeling this way about her kid for 7 years.
I learned early on with my son that he was not going to be the exact kid I was hoping he'd be. But he's his own kid and I love him for it. There's a difference between being bothered by our kids behavior because they can drive us crazy and trying to force our kids to be people whom they are not.
Thanks for sharing this article. I don't think this is a brave act from a mom who should be applauded.
DGB - yep, I can relate to having a kid that's interested in, or is different than you'd thought they'd be. But these kids don't pop out fully materialized like Athena from Zeus's head or thigh or wherever! They're just trying to find their own way, and it's our job to guide them - not push our expectations on them. Well, what you said, in other words.
Maybe I'm feeling ranty and stabby about it because I really just want to grab that woman and shake her and tell her to be grateful that she even has children. But I realize that is a response from my inner nutjob that miscarried like, five times and she can be a little overbearing, so I can't let her have her way too often.
I thought the same thing about the diagnosis. How would this story end had there not been a diagnosis, and her kid continued being "weird"?
I can't sympathize with the author at all. I'm glad she changed all the names so that her poor daughter won't have to stumble across that article one day.
Changing the names will in no way prevent your kid from finding out about this as an adult.
I don't know, guys. I've thought about this article *a lot*. I thought about it in my sleep. (wait, who's getting sleep in this house?) Parts of it speak to me. I had this ideal in my mind of my "son." He came out exactly like her daughter. He's weak, hypotonic, even. He's delayed. He's the last to get anything and sticks out like a sore thumb. You know, frankly, it *is* disappointing. It's horrible, but I mourn the child that I wanted to have and try to make the best out of the kid I do have. We spent two years doing all kinds of Early Intervention. Speech, OT, PT, etc. Finally, I just gave up. It was making both of us miserable and he always continued on a curve of 6 months behind. I stuck him in classes I knew would challenge him (like gymnastics and hiking) and it made him act out. So I gave up on that as well. We're both happier. But is it horrible of me to be sad I didn't get the gross-motor (or fine-motor for that matter) champion, or even the kid that could read or recite facts?
I don't have a diagnosis. He never comes out as autistic or even Asperger's on any tests--he's just an odd duck and nothing like I am. That's the key I guess, he's NOTHING like me. We're like oil and water. Except oil and water that need each other to survive. As he grows we find common interests: space and mazes have been big the past few months. I feel, like this woman--that we are growing together instead of growing apart. I had to really do some introspection to learn to like my son the way he was and to stop forcing anything on him that he's not.
My second son at 2 months is doing things my first son didn't do until 7. He's not as floppy, he's cooing, he's smiling, he's keeping up with his baby class peers instead of us sitting there nearly in tears as all the other babies respond to "Wheels on the Bus" and mine lies catatonic. He's bigger too. People don't come up to us and ask "Was he premature? Is he a month old?" When he was full term and at the time the person said it, 4 months old.
Well, we're off to a birthday party this weekend at an indoor jungle gym. I'll sit back and watch my kid chase after all his peers who are 50 feet ahead of him on all the apparati and cry when he can't get up a wall everyone else a year younger can. I can handle this better these days. Now I'm just ticked I can't sit down and chat like the other parents. I'm sure it does me good.
I guess I'm just trying to say I can see what she's saying--she's just not that good at saying it.
One of the hard things about parenting is that you can't know what kind of parent you will be until you decide to do it. I mean, you can guess, but you can't know. For me, one of the best parts of parenting was not knowing who my kid was going to be. I didn't have preconceived notions about him, because I figured he'd do his own thing and I'd get to know him. I can see though, if you had a certain mental picture, how it could be hard to adjust to that picture being so far off. Maybe it's easier being the kid who was a weirdo and never fit in. I had no expectations my child would do so either. Actually, he's a lot more socially capable than I or my spouse, which is strange. This woman sounds like she was always pretty, popular, and athletic and can't deal with the fact that her daughter won't be.
I also wonder about what would have happened if it hadn't all been magically "fixed." Bap2, you don't sound horrible to me, but what you describe and how you describe it doesn't sound much like that mom either.
Bap2...When I read your comment I hear a person who has genuine concern for the well being of their child. When I read the article, I hear a mom who is feeling gyped that her kid isn't living up to expectations. Maybe she's feeling the same way, but it sure doesn't come across that way.
People are never who we expect them to be. No matter if it's our children, our spouses or even our parents and friends. People are unpredictable. It's how we adapt that makes the difference. You made a conscious choice to stop pushing so hard for the well being of your kid and yourself. It didn't seem like about trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. But that's not the feeling from the article.