Parenting article on Slate

I just read something awful. It wasn’t written poorly, it just sucked. It was an essay from a Ruth Graham on Slate, where she whines about how she’s always wanted kids, but the parenting blogs that she reads make it sound terrible.

http://www.slate.com/articles/life/family/2014/02/what_s_it_really_like_to_be_a_parent_please_don_t_tell_me.html

She simultaneously acknowledges that motherhood was whitewashed for generations, and that women were supposed to present as perfect and happy no matter what they were experiencing, and then complains that women today are oversharing about the challenges and scaring her. She ends, honestly, with a plea for mothers to take a moment while blogging to pity her for her dilemma. What they should do with this pity is anyone’s guess – back to whitewashing? Chuck her on the chin and tell her to buck up?

I was moved to comment on the piece, and wrote the following before remembering that I don’t like giving out my email and being tracked just to vent, and I don’t have a facebook acct (for similar reasons) to log on as, and I’m trying to put thoughts into this blog.

So here’s the response I failed to give:

This is wretched.  Ending with a plea for pity for (wait for it)… not having problems??  My suggestion for the author: grow a pair.  Of whatever you need to grow and have to stop pitying yourself.  If you find that you’re too intimidated to have children, then please don’t.  What the world doesn’t need is more children growing up with complexes b/c their parents couldn’t decide if they could cut it or not.  If your (the author’s) response to what I just wrote is “Fuck you!”, then great! Own that, put me in my place, and have kids.  But don’t sit on the fence and publicly whine that it’s the fault of someone sharing their experience that you can’t make up your mind.  “Do or do not — there is no try.” — Motherfucking Yoda.

This is not my attempt to be internet tough guy, and I’m happy to post this here, where most of you know who I am and all of you know how to find me. This is an issue I’ve had with the direction we’re taking as a society, an issue I’ve had for a long time. I’ll probably blog about it before too long, and the title will be something like “How getting the shit kicked out of me was the best thing that ever happened to me.” I will not be making that post a universal prescription for happiness, and please let me write it before you take umbrage with it.

But to get back to the topic at hand, my issue with the piece is this: do your homework if you think you want to do something, and then decide if it sounds like it’s worth trying or not, but don’t complain that the thing you’re considering isn’t different than it is, or something other than what it is. Example: I ride a motorcycle. Not all the time. Every time I go out to get onto the bike, every fucking time, I take an internal poll to see if my desire to ride that day outweighs my desire to not take a chance on landing in the hospital. Or dying. There have been days when it doesn’t, and I take a car instead. What I don’t do is complain about how I want to ride my motorcycle, but I want it to be safe, so someone should build a set of training wheels for it, or they should stop all the traffic on the route I want to take. It is what it is – awesome and dangerous. If a new system comes along that can increase the safety without decreasing the awesome, I’ll support it. (And that, for those of you who don’t ride, is what the whole ridiculous helmet law debate is about; there’s a large portion of the riding population who believe that having to wear a helmet decreases the awesome more than it increases the safety. For them, wind in the hair is an integral part to the experience, and they are fighting any attempts to take that experience away from them. For me, I gots no hair, and I always ride in a helmet, but frequently in a t shirt. Because the wind on my arms is a very awesome sensation, and a risk that I’m frequently willing to take.)

The point here is that we’ve a large portion of the population that thinks it’s reasonable to ask the world to change to suit their preferences. I’m no conservative – I don’t think that things should never change – but this particular essay reminded me of another one that I read when I was a teenager, waiting in the dentist’s office for an appointment. That piece was written by a woman who was nervous in traffic, and complaining that people shouldn’t criticize her for slowing down while trying to merge onto the highway. Again: she was braking while merging into faster traffic. As a driving instructor and a motorcycle rider, this woman terrifies and infuriates me. She wants everyone to stop what they’re doing to accommodate her, and instead is creating a dangerous traffic pattern that dramatically increases the chances of everyone around her getting hurt. Not acceptable, no sympathy.

Finally, I want to address the possibly misogynistic tone of this blog post. Please be aware that although I’ve given two examples of women annoying me with their timidity and indecisiveness, that is not a trait that I’m attributing to all women or women in general. I’ve got several stories/examples of men doing the same things, and it bugs me equally, but the piece that set me off today happened to be written by a woman, and the memory it recalled most immediately also happened to involve a woman. The essay that I haven’t yet written but referenced earlier is about how I’ve attempted to overcome these tendencies in myself.

Well, I’m off to watch some Holly Holm MMA clips on Youtube. Until next time,

John

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