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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Open letter to "happydog"

Thanks for writing. I always appreciate insightful comments and criticisms from people who comment on my blog. The open communication is part of what makes blogging so enjoyable. It's the anonymous people who offer up criticisms that I find irritating.

I typically ignore people like you, but since you brought up some emotionally-charged fodder, I had to reply. So let me break things down:
  • Pity Party...
I'm entitled to a pity party anytime I like. That is one of my rights as the mom of two young kids, who--like most kids--have the ability to be naughty. Just today, for example, Preschooler in Chief thought it would be a good idea to saturate the family room with the hose. It was hot out, so I can see why he thought it might be a good idea to cool things down in the house. But in actuality, it was a bad idea. Soggy books, drenched toys, and a wet wool carpet contribute to the overwhelmed feelings that I wrote about Sunday, which in turn, prompted your comment.

It is my kids' jobs to push the envelope as they learn boundaries and figure out how they fit into our family and our society. And, yes, it my job to reel them in and help them understand right from wrong in a loving and supportive environment. I can love my kids and hate my kids at the same time. It's mommy multi-tasking. It's a complexity of the human condition. And, by the way, it's totally normal.
  • A Little Gratitude...
Your lame suggestion that perhaps I need a little gratitude shouts that you know nothing about me. While I am currently frustrated and tired with the mundane parts of parenting, I'm filled with gratitude. If you've read much of my blog you would have found countless posts that acknowledge my generous husband, our supportive family, and our network of amazing friends. You would have found posts that find humor in my kids' quirky behaviors. You would have found forgiveness and glimmers of goodness squeezed between hospitalizations and medical drama.
  • Thanking My Lucky Stars...
I, more than anyone, know all about my son's medical condition and how lucky and appreciative and thankful I am for the technology, the surgeons, the friends, family and medical staffers that have helped my family through hours, days, weeks, and months of being in the hospital and being surrounded by the possibility of death. I, more than anyone, know all about being grateful that my kid is alive. That my kid has been out of the hospital and has led a relatively healthy and normal life for more than a year. I, more than anyone, know that everything can change in a minute. I, more than anyone, know that there will be more hospitalizations. That there will be more surgeries.

Because you don't really know anything about me, you can't possibly know what I think or what I feel or how I struggle with the life I've been given. I don't have the luxury to know what it's like to raise two healthy kids. I don't have the luxury to be blissfully ignorant about the future. I have never known--not even for five minutes--what it is like to be a mother without thinking that my son is going to die. And don't think that I don't know how all that knowledge makes all my frustrations and guilt that much more complex.
  • Sad Medical Crisis'...
I specifically remember during one of PIC's hospitalizations that I was just constantly grateful that he was breathing, that his tiny body was still living, despite the massive trauma it had been though. I felt that way for several weeks after he was discharged too. And then one day, I got angry at him for something. I remember that moment as being profound because it meant that things were going back to normal. And that was a good thing.

Just because PIC has medical problems does not mean he gets a free pass. It does not mean that we'll never argue or disagree or that he'll never get on my nerves simply because I'm grateful he's alive. It doesn't work that way. I'm doing my best to treat him like a normal kid. To praise him no more and no less than a kid who has not had five heart operations. To punish him no more harshly or less harshly than his heart-healthy little brother. I'm doing my best to treat him as normally as possible. So that means I have the right to get annoyed with my kids and the mundane and repetitive part of parenting. It doesn't make me a bad person. It makes me human.

Finally, thanks to everyone who offered support and advice. It has been a rough couple of weeks, but I'm taking steps to get out of this slump.


  1. I agree with happydog. I've been reading your blog for awhile and feel terrible for you having a child with a serious medical condition. I'm so thankful that I have a happy healthy daughter. I believe after that little poem I'm going to quit reading your blog. You have a good life and I'm tired of reading your whining. I have seen parents with sick children that have not been as lucky as you. You write about wanting to work more while there are parents out there that would give anything to spend more time with there children and have the luxury you take for granted. Think about having a dieing child thats having a good day and wanting to spend that good day with your child but going to work because you can't afford to miss anymore. Saving your sick days for only the bad days. My cousin died when he was very young. His parents sold there house and family friends and church groups did all they could. It wasn't enough to save a wonderful little boy. Spend time with your family. Be thankful cherish ever moment even the bad days are good because your together.

  2. nothingbutblue, I can't believe that you chose to hassle Suzanne some more, after she's just said that she doesn't need anonymous criticism.

    Suzanne, I'm sorry you're having a rough patch. And yes, it's normal to love your kids to pieces and also want to strangle them. Do what you need to do to give yourself the peace you need, whether it's hiring some more babysitting, putting on a video, or looking for a regular wage job.

    Do it both because it will let you be a better parent, but also because you deserve it.


  3. Suzanne,

    Nice post.
    To write with so much honesty cannot be easy - I admire you for being able to do it...
    I can only speak for myself when I say that I've had some of those same feelings at different times, so I can relate.
    Not sure why some readers are compelled to judge vs. offer some form of support. Agreeing or disagreeing isn't really the point.
    As humans, at some point or another we all have feelings that we're not proud of, some of us, like me, have even said and done things that we're not proud of. I find that to be true especially trying times, under extraordinarily difficult circumstances.
    People who judge, I think sometimes forget.
    But for the grace of God, so go I.
    In the inimitable words of Bono:
    "Take this mouth; so quick to criticize, take this mouth and give it a kiss..."


  4. There are two kinds of mothers in this world: (1) those who openly admit that their children can be a pain in the ass, and (2) Andrea Yates.

  5. Right on sister!!! Bet that made you feel better! ;-)

  6. Some people just suck.

    And thank you, thank you, thank you for the line, "It does not mean that we'll never argue or disagree or that he'll never get on my nerves simply because I'm grateful he's alive." We're one month post-Fontan and man, he was driving me CRAZY Monday. I felt awful because I just wanted him to stop, to take a nap, to give me some time without DRIVING ME CRAZY, and then I felt so, so, so very guilty because I am so blessed that he's here, so grateful - how could I ever be frustrated or annoyed with him when I'm just very lucky he's here with me? It's a very real struggle for me, finding a balance between recognizing what might be leftover emotional stuff from the hospital and treating him like the two-year old he is.

  7. Nothingbutblue - you're kidding, right? Because PIC is alive, everything should be sunshine and flowers? You have a healthy daughter, you've only experienced having a kid with a severe life-threatening CHD from the outside. Throw those emotions on top of the everyday joys and struggles of raising kids, and really - you have no right to judge.

    Suzanne, you are human with the same emotions as every other parent - and every other parent at some point has felt those same feelings. I hope things fall back into an easier routine soon.

  8. nothingbutblue: learning the differences between "there", "their" and "they're" might make you slightly less irritating. but probably not.

  9. oh we go. I think Happydog and nothingbutblue are just dishing out some tough love for you, Suzanne after numerous posts full of complaints and longing for your former life in an office. Yes, it is laudable that Suzanne is honest about her parenting struggles but I think the deep emotions of hating your children are best discussed w your husband and therapist- not the general public.(And then you act surprized that people resond?? odd). Whatever happened to personal dignity and pride in taking care of ones's family and self? Victimhood is indulgence. My grandfather always said he was not given the luxury of depression- his beloved wife died giving birth to thier 5th child. Grandfather was left grieving & caring for an infant and FOUR other small children. He did not have the time to wish for his prior life. He got up each day and cooked and cleaned and somehow gave his children a good life (with a 70yr old nanny helping!) He did not whine as far as I ever heard. His life was devastaded, but he prevailed. He was wrong about depression, though. I think you need an evaluation and someone to talk to about all these disturbing thoughts.

  10. One of the wonderful things about journaling is the ability to get out those things which are not normally shared in public. The tough thing about blogging is that those thoughts are now public.

    Ketsel1999, you don't know what thoughts were going through your grandfather's head. Don't you think he ever had days (or weeks, or months) where internally he was struggling? Suzanne (and I, and pretty much everyone else) is struggling, only she has opted to make her struggle public. I think she deserves something for saying a lot of those things that others only think - it's nice to know we're not alone in our struggle to find a balance between raising our families and wanting to be "us" outside of being a mom.

  11. Anonymous5:39 PM

    I'm thankful for your honesty. Reading one blog post shows how you feel in one particular moment. Not how you are overall. I can understand that, it is a brief glimpse into a complex life. I understand the frustrations and struggles with motherhood. Those types of days would exist even if you worked in the office. It is called life. There are ups and downs regardless of what you choose to do every day.

  12. Suzanne, you know I'm here to support you. We all need to lean on each other's shoulders from time to time. Which is why I say that if you gained something from these bogus anonymous chicken-sh*t posts from wankers such as "Happy Dog" or "NothingButBlue", then great. But negative energy expended at them is wasteful. These people are like malignant cancer cells trying to attach themselves to vital organs and multiply. Best to shed them along and excrete them out along with the rest of the trash and be rid of them. And use your energy for much more positive things - like getting you in a positive state of mind.

    Big hugs,

    It's more positive and productive to spend that energy in something more useful.

  13. heh....

    i think we "revere" our precious little children in this culture a bit too much. "oh we must think of the children!" "oh the children!" it's such a bunch of bullarky!!! i think the little f*ckers need to be put in their place! they are our charges and sometimes they are REAL PAINS in THE ARSES!!

    why can't we just call a spade a spade, here? why do we have to sugar coat just because we're talking about children ?

    MIC, i think it's great you stirred the pot with your poem. them people who are critical take themselves WAY too seriously, anyway.


    yours always,