I also hurt my friend's feelings.
This blogging stuff has lots of points and corners and twists and turns. I seem to have made a wrong one.
Little Cuter called me and wondered if my friend was hurt. She saw what others saw and what I had not considered: I was calling on people to disparage another's parenting. Though that wasn't my intent, I quickly came to see how it could be construed as such.
I really didn't know what to think. Her son, after a long hard week of single-parenthood, offered to make her a margarita.
She'd be giving her son the opportunity to make her smile, to present her with something she likes. He offered to do it for her, he's demonstrating his love, he enjoys the process... what is my problem?I was really wondering. It made me uncomfortable, and I didn't know why. I know she's a strong role model, a positive parent, a woman who makes those around her feel comfortable and included. She wondered, in the Facebook post that prompted the brouhaha, whether she was a bad mother or a great mother and I took the question to heart. I mulled it over, I talked to my friends in real life, I went back and forth, and then I sat down to type. I was really wondering.
We all use our blogs for different purposes. This blogger is obviously more confident in her parenting skills than I was/am:
And I am certainly not going to go and write a blog post on whether your choice to provide samplings of alchool to your children is ethical or a good parenting decision. I don't need an audience to tell me "I'm right"I wasn't looking for affirmation; I was looking for context, for other opinions, for analysis other than my own. I wasn't sure where I stood and I was asking for help. My title was a question, in and of itself : Am I Right?
It's worked for me as I heal, as I parent my 90 year old mother, as I deal with family stress. I had no idea it would be so controversial when I brought up parenting. I've always aired my troubles to my friends. It's how I make decisions.
"Is this what you do in your playgroups?" another comment asked. Yes, indeed, it was. We wondered aloud and with one another about our choices, our concerns, our stances on the issues. Was she overly-anal or merely super-organized, our friend who had her full-time sitter fill out an hourly log of the children's activities? We thrashed that one out, over and over again, with her in the room. Should my sitter have gotten her 17 year old daughter birth control pills when she asked for them? There was a lot of disagreement over that one, believe me. Don't imagine that my alcohol-free-party screeds were not contested, either. We relied on one another, we listened, we learned.
I can see how my friend felt bashed by the number of people who took the issue seriously, who wondered about alcohol and tweens, who were concerned about the message it sent. I suppose my opening comments, and their repetition throughout the post, were not enough. Saying "I like this woman. I respect this woman. I wanted to answer her honestly," obviously was not enough.
I'm still not sure about the right answer to the original question. I can see them giggling over the ingredients, frothing the beverage til it was just so, hugging as the joy of making mom smile overcame them all. As my son commented,
As long as the parents are engaged and actively pay attention to how their actions are being perceived and parroted by their kid, I don't think this is necessarily a red flag.Context is everything, as he says. I know that the parents are "engaged and actively pay(ing) attention" and I know that their hearts are in the right place. I'm still not sure about the right answer, but there's more that I want to say. I'm moving on to the meta-issue.
I think it's sad when we look at questioning as disparaging. Sure, some of the comments were strongly on the side of NO, but if you look at them, you'll see "stepdad was an alcoholic," "family of alcoholics" running through the comments as a steady stream. Once again, context is everything.
Our questions are a snapshot of our own issues; as a member of a generation that venerated sex and drugs and rock and roll these subjects roil around in my brain all the time. Are misogynistic lyrics the ruin of today's youth? What about Mick Jagger singing "Under My Thumb?" Is bad behavior by rock stars leading them down the road to hell? What abou the Grateful Dead's Casey Jones, "ridin' that train, high on cocaine?" My parents were appalled at my music, just as I am appalled at Elizibeth's choices; it's a rite of passage and, with good adult supervision and values modeled by the grown ups in our lives, damage can be avoided.
But, if we look at an answer with which we disagree as an ad hominem attack, if we take issue with raising the question, if we can only preach to the choir, then how will we learn? In the original post, I tried as hard as I could to present my quandary - a good parent wondered about a nuanced issue and I wondered, too. I want to keep up with the times, I try to be accepting of cell phones on the table next to the 20-somethings in my life although it screams RUDENESS to my aged ears. I try to recognize that life goes on, that perceptions change, that my reality is based on a 20th century, industrial age education, one where it was taken for granted that our children would do better than we did.
Faced with underemployment and instant access to information and wealth inequalities and dysfunctional government on all levels, the world is a vastly different place than when I was a young mother. My circles were live and in front of me, not spread over the interwebs. Who I was figured into what was said - by me and about me. We've lost that connection as we've made more and more intersections.
Actually, I think that's the crux of the matter. My readers intersected with my friend. They never really connected.
It is an awful feeling when your words hurt another. I'm responsible for giving my friend some bad moments, and for that I apologize and seek forgiveness. I had no idea that the Mommy Wars would touch The Burrow.
I remember the school psychologist telling the 5th grade moms that we were "parenting against the culture," back in 1993. It seems as if it's only getting worse.... with more eyes and ears to hammer home truths... if truths they be.
So sorry, Becca. So very very sorry.