Saturday, July 21, 2012

I just wanna be loved by you

This is apparently a Weekend of Introspection.  Or something. 

Comments on my previous post got snarky.  This is pretty unusual for my blog since I generally tend not to write things that piss people off. Or if I do, no one's reading them.

I hate conflict, which is probably surprising since I'm so opinionated.  I think it's hardwired into my personality.  I dwell on stuff for days until it gets sorted out, or (worse!) slowly fades away.  It makes me unsettled and unhappy - that same feeling I got as a kid just before I got into trouble for something.

I've written before that I have low tolerance for people who bitch and moan about their problems but refuse to do anything about it.  (Which is funny because if you ask my husband I have a few of these where the solution is patently obvious to him.)  The judgmental comments I made on my last post are specifically in relation to this. 

Maybe if I were a better person, I wouldn't judge anyone or anything and leave it to the Great Hereafter or whatever.  But I can't.  If multiple people (who are not my BFFs) are going to bring their (similar) issues to me looking for validation on something I can't get on board with, I can't help but be irritated.

My first thought was to delete the thread or at the very least, my own comments to stem any further disagreement/disapproval.  But that doesn't really fix anything, as I still *feel* that way.

Life is too short to worry about what anonymous folks on the Internet think of me.  So what if they don't "like" me, as much as one can not "like" someone they've never met.  I do the same thing when I read a blog on something I vehemently disagree with and feel moved to comment on.

I'm starting to realize (and hate) that one of the things I'm getting from social networking, blogging, etc. is this sort of "validation" - this "yes, we agree, because you're like us".  Being part of a group and fitting in (however anonymously).  Of course this has been one of the themes of my life.  As much as I talk a good game, I'm not comfortable rocking the boat, being the non-conformist or *gasp*, having people "yell" at me.

This is part of the reason I stopped commenting entirely on political things on Facebook.  It was raising my blood pressure, and totally depleting any entertainment value or "fun" I was getting out of being on Facebook.  I'm not a person who enjoys a good argument.

I'm not sure what the solution is, besides practice, practice, practice at getting comfortable with conflict.  I can only imagine it will help me in sticky situations, since I'm long past being a kid who needs to worry about "good behavior". 

I guess it's a good lesson on cost-benefit analysis too.  Is my need to write about X or say Y big enough to withstand Z that I might hear as a result?  Sometimes yes, sometimes no.  I often employ this at work and keep quiet as a result, though inside I'm raging at what people are saying.

In the end, I think it comes down to the specifics.  I think I get very wound up on hypothetical, philosophical discussions that are not serving me well. 

The real topic at hand is not the State of Maternity Leave in the US and whether Marissa Mayer's Personal Choices will affect it in any way.  That may be the new form of armchair entertainment in the blogosphere but in the end I'm not sure if it's useful.

What matters to me is whether my request for leave will be approved and whether I'll still have a job when I return.  And maybe keeping other people from sucking up my emotional bandwidth.


  1. It is always hard when something you write rubs someone else the wrong way- but it is the risk we take when writing. I've had this happen to me twice in a biggish way- once when I wrote about buying happiness, and once when the work-life discussion got a bit unpleasant on my blog and people crossed the line to saying bad things about other commenters instead of just disagreeing with their comments. Both times left me feeling a little sick. The second time, I was about to have to start deleting comments when people moved on.

    But... I actually learned a lot from both incidents. In the buying happiness case, I realized that what I had written was hurting people and I did not intend that, so I changed the words to be more clear what I meant. I think the result was a better post, and maybe I got a little better as a writer, too.

    In the comments nastiness case, it helped me clarify in my mind why I was blogging. And in that case, I decided to change the topic for awhile until some of the anonymous commenters who were being nasty got bored with me and went away.

    Obviously, I don't agree 100% with some of the things you wrote on that post or in the comments. But I'm glad you are letting them stand. It is a useful conversation to have, and if we don't keep trying to communicate with each other, how will we ever get to the point where we really, truly, respect different people's choices? How will we get to the point where we understand the impact our choices can have on other people's options, and start to work to minimize that- so everyone truly has a full range of choices open to them?

    It isn't easy, and people will get annoyed and hurt sometimes. The important thing, at least to me, is that we keep learning from the conversation.

    1. Cloud, as usual, I agree with you and you have a great way of expressing it.

      What I'm finding (and this is because I'm new to having people I don't know comment here) is that in certain circles, it's ok to be "judgmental" about some things but not others.

      And that somehow calling someone out for being "judgmental" seems to be the 2012 version of "unladylike" or "not nice" or something.

      Talking to my husband last night clarified this (he had been out on a trip Fri/Sat) - he reads a couple of motorcycle related forums which get heated on a number of topics and not surprisingly, are mostly male. Guys don't go around calling each other "judgmental". In his words, they just say "You're wrong." They don't worry about offending or caveat-ing their posts to make sure everyone feels safe/included/whatnot. I see this at work too.

      So clearly, I need to grow a thicker skin. If people are HAPPY with their choices, then that's all that matters, right? Why the hell do they care what some other person thinks, esp someone who is not their BFF or their mom?

      If I phrase it as "wow, that choice would NOT work for the way I want to raise my family", is that still considered judgmental? What does that even mean anyway? We should not express opinions on anything for fear of offending someone?

      Unless of course, it's something we all agree on, like "parents should pay for their kids' college if they have the means and not squander their money on kitchen remodeling or fancy trips", or "spanking is a cruel form of discipline" or "the authors of Babywise are dead wrong", etc etc.

      I'm just seeing some hypocrisy out there.

    2. We all know there is a difference between the rhetoric of "X is not a prudent choice, and there is this empirical data here we can point to that can reasonably back that assertion up" versus your rhetoric of what is the point of those poor trophy kids even existing. Huge difference. It's the tone of the message. Come on, now, you know that.

    3. Seriously people, I did not come up with the term "trophy kids" and don't like that much myself (it was another commenter). I don't believe that's why people have kids but I have trouble with people who:

      1. Don't spend much time with their kids and don't want to learn how *AND*
      2. Complain about their stressful/unfulfilled lives but don't fix it

      So our standard of opinionating should be whether there's some scientific study out there that supports it?

    4. If you disagreed with the term "trophy kid," you could have deleted it or refuted it or redirected the person who made it in your space - it's your blog.

      Anandi, I read this post as you asking for feedback, which I have provided. Maybe I was wrong, and you just wanted to be told you're right and you're a good person. You seem extremely resistant to my feedback, so I will go away now.

    5. As I stated on Nicole and Maggie's page, I was the one that came up with the term trophy kids and I was also the one who said that you shouldn't bother having kids if you're going to hand over their care to someone else. Anandi simply agreed with the sentiment and conveyed how she observed some of these puzzling behaviors in coworkers.

      I'm sorry, but being from the midwest, I was raised that you simply DO NOT hand over your kids to someone else to raise. (And if you want, we can discuss the scientific literature that generally has concluded that behavioral outcomes and such are worse for children when their mothers work before 1 year of age...) You can find people to help with absolutely everything else, and I'm okay with that! Doulas are alright for the first few weeks after birth, but their role is that of teaching the mother how to care for the child and breastfeed. Even up here, doulas are extremely rare because that is expected of the extended family. I do realize that's not a viable situation for everyone, but it is part of the reason I have chosen to live where I do. I have a housekeeper (which is even pushing the limits of what my more modest neighbors think of me). It's okay to have someone to take care of your yard and even a nanny for the day time when you are at work. But if you have someone taking care of your kids when you're home and should be spending time with them, you have trophy kids. Kids need their parents, and I will not back down from this assertion.

      The stupid thing about this conversation is that I'm not even saying that parents should give up everything for their kids. But what I am saying is that kids need to have real relationships and bond with their parents, and this does require a sacrifice of time on the part of the parents. If you have no desire to do that, then I really, truly am confused about the reason behind having them in your life. If you can explain to me why someone would have kids but not want to spend time with them, I'd really appreciate it because no one has yet done so. The only comments that have been made in response to the question are that I'm judgmental. So give me a reason not to be...

  2. Anandi, I really admire your willingness to dive into a hot topic. I'm probably on the other side half the time, but I appreciate the discussion, & it broadens my view. Being raised in a home where disagreements quickly became highly charged, emotional arguments, I really appreciate civilized, stimulating debate & can't understand why debate can't remain respectful. I appreciate that the nature of debate is not your main point or concern in this particular post, but I want to congratulate you for the courage to respectfully express your views in this forum.

    1. Thanks Cheryl :) Apparently it's fine for me to express my views when people agree with them, but when they don't I should just shut up about it. (At least that's the message I get from some. But I'm over it now.)

    2. good. PLUS it's YOUR blog, right?:)

  3. Anandi, as someone who generally enjoys your blog, I felt your prior comments were completely tone deaf.

    My husband and I used a nighttime postpartum doula in 2007 after the birth of our son. So your comments and those of @Cherish telling folks like me "we don't see the point of you people ever having your kids in the first place" were unnecessary, hurtful, and most damningly we all know they are not even empirically true. I have a really thick skin though, and that's the reason I'm even back here after that drivel.

    Also, it's not that "Comments on my previous post got snarky" (in the passive voice), it's "I knowingly chose to make snarky, judgmental comments that I nevertheless stood by and have still failed to apologize for, even when clearly called out on them."

    I'd ask that you please, please, please reflect personally on why it all went down here like it did, why you're feeling like a not very good person now, and think about who is really to blame for whatever job anxiety you're feeling. Most bloggers get it wrong sometimes. I certainly have. This is one to grow on for you. I'll keep reading.

  4. @Hush - Postpartum doula != night nanny that comes for 6+ months. I didn't give all the backstory about what I heard at work re: being successful with a newborn, which amounted to day nanny + night nanny (more than just the first couple months) + relatives who come to do everything else + returning from leave having taken less than half. Those are comments made by 3+ people who have 2-3 levels of people reporting to them, some of which I may end up reporting to. How do you think they really feel about people who take 20 weeks of leave, completely check out, and then want more leave or part-time work upon return?

    That is not how I want to parent, and if that's what it takes to be successful at work, then screw it, I don't want it. But I'm sick of people holding that up as the example to which we peons should aspire to.

    I didn't say people "shouldn't have kids" - clearly that's their decision, but I genuinely wonder what the point is if both parents are going to outsource all of it and not change their schedule at all, going to work before the kids are up and coming home after they're in bed. These are different people who talk to me about being very unhappy with their situations but don't want to change. THAT I have a problem with.

    If people are happy with the arrangements they made, great. Who the heck cares what I think of them? I'm not their BFF or their mama.

    So no, I'm not going to apologize. Just like I'm not going to apologize for saying that dual-income people who *can* afford fancy vacations, McMansions, and retirement savings have their priorities screwed up if they're not willing to pay for their kids' college educations. Which incidentally everyone seems to agree with.

    1. "Postpartum doula != night nanny that comes for 6+ months." Wrong. Ours called herself a "postpartum doula" and she and her partner came to our home for 8 months. So it seems I still suck and you don't see the point of my having had kids.

    2. I can't do this anymore. Clearly you're missing my point about people being happy with their choices vs. people who aren't but don't want to change.

      And I'm specifically talking about people who have brought their situations to ME and don't like them, not random Internet people and their choices.

    3. Actually, that's not what a doula is according to DONA:

  5. I was going to write this "I didn't think the comments got too way out of hand, because most people can/do clarify their statements and are mature enough to agree to disagree." Then I started reading the comments above. The strange thing is I still don't see the reason for the anger. Isn't everyone sort of able to see the other's viewpoint?

    1. Apparently not, as I've offended someone so much they unsubscribed and felt compelled to tell me about it. ;)

      I think it has to do with this:

  6. Wow I missed a real...kerfluffle. I'll start by saying I'm equally averse to conflict, and my MO is usually to just disengage & avoid, but I know I need to work on that. I'm disheartened to see hurt feelings and snarky comments by bloggers & readers I admire for their thoughtful writing and commenting. Basically, I have seen that nothing gets a mother's hackles up more than having her parenting choices criticized. Yes, I've heard the rebuttal that "If you're secure in your choices, you wouldn't feel so defensive"...but the truth is, most of us are not 100% secure in our choices. We do what seems best at the time, with the information that we have, but doubt can creep in, particularly when we are feeling attacked (and being deemed unfit to reproduce is definitely an attack). I know I did what I thought was best for my children & family in several "hot-button" issues, but it still stings to see, for example, sleep-training being condemned as "abuse" & "if you wanted to sleep through the night you shouldn't have had kids".
    I get that you were speaking specifically about the co-workers who came to you repeatedly with problems that they were unwilling to seek real solutions for...that is annoying. Also, it seems that your issue is with the culture at your work that makes parents feel that they HAVE to return quickly, hire night nannies, etc...since that is not how you want to raise your children.
    But your comments did come across as an accusation against those that use night nannies/doulas/whatever or have extended family help for their children as being unfit parents ("why have kids if..."). I never had nighttime help but maybe I should have, at least a couple days a week, it might have helped me be more engaged during the day. Or maybe I'd have missed those night time cuddles (wait, no, there were no cuddles, just endless screaming). In terms of the extended family staying for months at a time---we had that, to avoid our kids going to daycare at 12 weeks & to ease the transition back to work we had our moms alternate coming & staying with us to take care of them for a few months. Our mothers WANTED to do it, we had to kick them out after a while! I think its important for my children to have a relationship with their grandparents, and more loving figures in their life is never a bad thing. And what a joy for the grandmothers to get to contribute and participate in the care of their grandchildren. Our parents live in this country, but I can imagine if they were coming from elsewhere they may stay for even longer, its impractical to go back and forth. So, there may be more to it than parents not wanting to be involved with their children. I actually know parents that had to work in different states or even countries from their children for a couple years(medical residency or training, or immigrating from an impoverished country to find work)...I'm sure it hurt like hell for them to be away, but the pursuit of a career they always dreamed of or a way to support their family was a priority for them. Their kids were well loved and cared for by family, and when training ended or times got better, they were reunited with their parents & went on to have intact bonding and relationships. There are just so many different possible scenarios out there that its hard to say one should "never" do such & such.
    Now in terms of what someone else writes in a comment on your blog, and whether you are responsible as the blogger for it...I don't know the answer to that. Its a whole different topic I'd love to see explored more.

  7. The ironic, and sadly amusing to me, part of this post (which BTW I loved and I think its your blog, your rules, and um your opinions) is that you acted with professionalism and grace in the face of conflict...right here in your comments.

    FWIW - even though I don't have kids - I have several professional friends who work where we do who are in the game of constantly complaining about their lives, their lack of time, and have full live in nannies. How is that possible? I wonder, often, how those kids will turn out never feeling or having the constant love and attention of their parents. I'm so thankful that you are engaged 150% with T. She's going to be spectacular and have a great future because you are who you are and you are teaching her things that are important.


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