You Can’t Please Everybody

 Posted by on September 8, 2012  Add comments  Tagged with: ,
Sep 082012

Last week on the WWYH Facebook page, I commented on this portion of a U.S. News and World Report article about the rising cost of childcare:

“…some families avoid high childcare costs by having one parent work days and the other work nights, so one parent is always available for childcare duty. However, in addition to the strain of working opposite schedules and always being “on,” this arrangement could short-change a child’s development. “There are developmental benefits if the child is in quality childcare,” says Smith.”

As a SAHM, this article offended me, because it seemed to be suggesting that stay-at-home parents aren’t able to provide quality childcare, and that children who stay home with their parents, instead of going to daycare, are “shortchanged” developmentally.

Edited to add:

I think my assessment of this article is supported by the very next paragraph, which states, “Williams opted to put her kids in childcare rather {sic} stay home and says her older child’s kindergarten teacher notices the difference between students who’ve gone to preschool and those who haven’t. “[Kids who went to preschool] know how to be around other kids,” she says. “They are more social. They know the rules. It definitely helps to get them ready in more ways than just learning how to spell their name.” However, it’s a very poorly written article, so it’s somewhat difficult to ascertain the actual intended meaning.

Most readers agreed that this was ridiculous but, as always, others felt they must message me to defend their decision to put their kids in daycare. The thing is, I’d said nothing at all about Moms who work, or who put their kids in daycare. I was talking about myself, and my choice to stay at home because, to be frank, I’m sick and tired of the mainstream media publishing ridiculous and offensive articles intended to demean stay-at-home parents. Obviously, I think that staying at home is the right thing for ME to do…why else would I do it? I want to, my husband wants me to, I’m financially able to, so I do…. and naturally I take real offense when someone tries to insinuate that keeping my children at home with me is somehow doing them a disservice. If that article had said that working parents shortchange a child’s development, and there are developmental benefits if the child stays at home with a parent, then Moms who work outside the home would have been the ones up in arms.

It astonishes me how so many people can’t understand that defending a personal choice is not a tacit “judgment” of another person’s choice. To be quite honest, I don’t generally concern myself with other people’s choices, because I have better things to do, and they’re none of my business. I might disagree with them, but in my day-to-day interactions with people, I pretty much keep my opinions to myself. I realize that this is a rather novel concept in our society today, but I believe in minding my own business.

This is what I was doing a couple weeks ago at my daughter’s dance class, when another Mom, who was there to sign up her own child for dance, started quizzing me about whether I was going to sign the girls up for soccer? Girl Scouts? Band?

We set a strict limit on extra-curricular activities, and I insist that we eat dinner together every night (sitting at a table – not in the car), and all the kids must be in bed on time so they can stay healthy and do well in school. But when I told this woman that we limit our kids’ activities to two, she was very disapproving, and suggested that I’m “preventing them from reaching their full potential.” She then ran down the laundry list of all the stuff HER kids are doing this fall.

This went on for a long time, and I held my tongue until she finished her very long argument, but then I said, “Well, I don’t feel that busy-ness should be worn like a badge of honor, and rather than being just OK at a whole bunch of things, I’d rather my kids focus on what they love most, and be FANTASTIC.”

I posted this on Facebook, and it was overwhelmingly my most popular post ever. Nearly 300 people liked it, and spoke out in favor of limiting kids’ activities, but a few readers felt that I was, again, “judging.” Never mind that I would have said absolutely nothing to this woman if she hadn’t spent the greater part of my child’s dance class trying to convince me of my failings as a parent.

There is a difference between judging, and standing up for yourself.

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you must surely know by now that while I generally write about educational, fun, and lighthearted topics, if there’s something I believe in strongly, I WILL stand up for it. The name of this blog is Want What You Have, and the entire premise is me writing to encourage people to save money, simplify, cut out the fluff, and focus on what’s really important to them….because yes, I believe strongly that learning to be content is the key to happiness, and I want to get that message out to people. Why? Because I think it will change their lives for the better. So, is it really any surprise that I would object to a person insisting that I cram more activities into the lives of my children? I think I’ve made it quite clear in the past that I’ve had the busy life, and it was pretty much a miserable, unfulfilling one. As one reader said…. just because you’re busy, it doesn’t mean you’re doing anything important.

Yesterday, I received a private message about how my recent Facebook posts were “off-putting,” and “borderline rude,” because I was making generalizations (though there was no explanation of what those generalizations were – even after I asked specifically for one). This is no surprise to me…whenever I stray from posts that are all sprinkles and sunshine, I receive a critical message from someone. In my almost 5 years of blogging, I’ve been told that I’m wrong for:

1. Putting my kids in public school
2. Calling my son “the boy.”
3. Not being as helpful as I “used to be.”
4. Having a bad day, and daring to write about it
5. Complaining because I threw up 5 times a day for the first 4 months of my pregnancy with DJ
6. Not being “grateful” enough
7. Growing out my gray hair
8. Referring to a group of nasty girls who were bullying my child as “bitchy.”
9. Writing too much about my personal life, and not enough about organization/frugality
10. Occasionally being sarcastic
11. Not liking a celebrity that other readers DO like
12. Innocently using an expression that someone else with different circumstances found offensive
13. Believing that Christ is the One true God and daring to say so

I could go on, but in a nutshell, if I’m not fulfilling certain readers’ needs, fantasies, and expectations, I’m sure to hear about it.

When you’re a public blogger, you openly share your life with the world, and with that comes the risk of criticism. But I hate feeling like I must endlessly defend myself and my positions – it ruins blogging for me. If you don’t like me and my opinions, why on earth are you here? It makes no sense to me. This is my platform – I pay for and maintain it, and it’s my corner of the internet where I can write about what matters to me. I like writing, I like recording the details of our life (lest I should forget), I like helping people and having a creative outlet, and I like the community of people who read and share ideas here. I know that people will not always agree with me, but most who do disagree word their comments kindly and respectfully, and we all move on with our lives. Others do not, but as I’m fond of saying, if you have something you need to get off your chest, by all means….get your own blog. When I read blogs, I do so because I find them entertaining, or I like the author’s point of view, and I assume that most of you read this blog for the same reasons. What I don’t do is attempt to “school,” or sway other bloggers to my way of thinking by leaving lengthy, critical comments for them, because I know from experience that these are quite tiresome to deal with, and in the end, they serve no purpose.

(Image courtesy of Laughing Squid).
Over the last few months, I’ve discussed this blog at length with my husband, and I’ve toyed with the idea of closing it down at the end of the year, simply because I feel that it’s run its course, and I’ve said what I need to say. But the truth is, I LIKE blogging, and I enjoy documenting our little family life. So, I’ve decided to keep at it, and maybe there will be fewer instructional posts, and more family posts. Maybe I’ll write less about what I think people want to hear, and more about what’s really on my mind. Some people won’t like this, and they’ll stop reading, but I’m OK with that, because if there’s anything I’ve learned from blogging (and life), it’s that you can’t please everybody, and you shouldn’t even try.

I’ve also learned that the time and effort necessary to respond to people who wish to educate me about my shortcomings is a waste…and I won’t do it anymore. Comments like that will go unread, and will be deleted with no response, so if you have a mind to leave one, please consider that the time you spend crafting it has value, and life is short.

Now, I’m going to spend what’s left of this beautiful Saturday with my family, but next week I’ll be back, with more opinions! Hold on to your hats, folks.