*This blog contains adult language.
“You sure do post a lot about your daughter. I just post the really important stuff, but that’s me. I guess you’re more comfortable sharing everything.”
I recently received that passive-aggressive (PA) comment (spoken, not written) about my online posting habits.
PA dialogue is easily identifiable. I seem to know a few folks who hide behind backhanded observations and opinions. These folks clearly never grew-up in a ‘speak up or shut up’ household like I was. I favor the direct. It saves time and confusion. Those PA folks cringe at the thought of directness though, and launch their little emotional torpedoes in subtler (not really) methods.
As per my usual reaction, I chew on things until I’m ready to address them, the ‘speak up or shut up,’ method in action. My real-time reaction to the above comment was, “huh.” In moments like this, I would imagine a lot of parents would slip into a light, defensive mode without really knowing why, feeling a poorly defined sense of self-judgement. I imagine many a parent would feel pressure to explain themselves.
I don’t. Being a parent is hard and critique is plentiful. I can’t be made to feel defensive from someone whom I never asked an opinion from to begin with. They volunteered their comment.
I’m responding to the comment now for the sake of fellow parents and for my own sense of closure. Two points come to mind.
1. I refuse to apologize for how much I celebrate the existence of my only child.
“E” is my only kid. I cannot physically bear another child, not without serious medical assistance. As I’ve addressed in a previous blog, I am hypothyroid (HT). In regards to severity, hypothyroidism can be viewed as existing on a spectrum. Mine is at the high end. Without daily medication, I will go into a coma and eventually die. By the time it was discovered in me, I was well on my way into near hospitalization as my body began to shutdown in 2013, less than a year after “E” was born. I won’t go into specifics as I’ve previously detailed this account of my HT discovery, but it was this experience that my specialists advised against a future pregnancy as the odds of a fetus surviving in my womb were slim to none, not without even more thyroid medication and strict supervision involving constant blood work and ultrasounds.
Also, the first three years after “E” was born was extremely taxing. I cannot imagine going through pregnancy again, it was painful. Other women made it look easy and I didn’t understand why it seemed to be so hard. My thyroid was diverting all hormones to the pregnancy and spared me very little. That’s why.
After birth, it took all my physical, mental, and emotional strength to raise my child as I slowly, and often painfully, recovered. Even after thyroid medication was introduced, recovery was not immediate. Recovery took years. Some days, my whole body radiated in pain as it strove to incorporate those hormones that it was utterly starved for.
My memories of “E’s” first few years were a jumble of endless doctor’s visits, blood draws, prescriptions, career changes, and moving around. Thankfully, “E” was a healthy baby and her check-ups were a breeze, mine less so.
And now, at the age of 38, comfortable in my body once more, I still would not consider trying to bring another child into this world. Not only would I have to increase my medication and double-down on the specialist visits, I take into account an even greater risk due to age. Women are having children at later ages thanks to advances in medical science, and yet the risk remains too high for me despite those advances. Given my medical history, I’m not willing to explore a second pregnancy. Besides “E” has enough energy and personality to count as two children.
Also, I’ve never believed children should be viewed as bookends. Just because you have one doesn’t require you to have two. I never had a strong feeling for a second child, and having a playmate wasn’t a strong enough justification.
Above all, I know myself. Up until the age of 30, I knew with absolute certainty I didn’t want children. My thoughts began shifting to pregnancy when I turned 31 and I respected myself enough to listen. Even then I suspected I might be “one and done,” and I was right. While I’ve considered a second child, during those brief moments of intangible “longing” women experience, they were short lived considerations. “E” was, and remains, enough for me.
2. Go f*ck yourself.
If anyone has a problem with how much I like to document and share, and more importantly – celebrate – my only kid, then we aren’t really friends.
In regards to safety concerns, I hear you. Safety is not what drove that PA comment, however, I will address safety here. To start, my FB settings are pretty ungenerous. More to the point, in order to be “friends” with me on FB, I would have had to have meet you in person in order to approve the connection. That is to say, I’m connected to all of 60 or so individuals: family, friends, and in-laws. Individuals who likely have, at minimum, a mild interest in posts and pictures about my kid. These same folks ought to know how to mute an account if they’re tired of my content, which includes such repetitive shares like Game of Thrones memes, video clips from The Land of Boggs, posts from The Oatmeal, my blog and general writing content, etc.
“E’s” not a perfect kid and sharing photos of our activities on Facebook or elsewhere is not meant to convey some false character of who she is. Her hair isn’t tangle-free and neat (despite my best efforts), she isn’t decked out in bows, sparkles, and wrinkle-free, pristine clothes. She IS covered in shin bruises and skinned knees because she plays hard. “E” does get occasional face acne because she’s lactose intolerant and manages to sneak milk chocolate here and there; those blemishes catch her out every time. “E” gets in trouble too and like all kids she has her annoying ticks. In fact, one of her favorite things to do is to sing a made-up song about poo, over and over, for no other reason than she knows it annoys me.
I share real moments, skinned knees and all, because that’s the heart of all this, real life moments with my kid…I almost missed it, so I capture moments and share them, for me more than anyone else.
People will see an oversharing, bragging parent if they wish – I’m not worried about those people. Maybe you overshare about your kids. It’s for you to decide though, that’s the point. Anyone complaining about it? That mute button works both ways, you know.