People Love To Hate (A Response)

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I will not put on my rose-colored glasses and pretend that none of this is happening: Mommy Wars, hate crimes, internet stalkers. We say things like “be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” and then we turn around to slap each other in the virtual face. The Mommy Wars wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the veil of the internet that so many hide behind. But the internet can’t protect you from anything, not even yourself. In judging others, we only judge ourselves.

Over at HuffPost Parents, Kim Bongiorno recently shared her five year-old’s diary with the world here. Kim wrote:

Was it a place she wrote what worries her? Is she describing her scary dreams at night? Is she sad I made her and her brother clean the basement for hours this weekend? Does she not understand why sometimes Daddy works late at night or travels for days at a time?

Curiosity got the best of me, and with a heavy, worried heart, I unlocked her diary to see what was inside.

What did I find?

Love.

She has been practicing sounding out words and spelling them phonetically by making a long list of all the things she loves, all the things that make her happy.

I found this to be a heart-warming story. A mother watching out for her young daughter, a mother wanting to know what’s going on in her daughter’s brain, a mother who truly cares. A girl with a happy life, who knows what she loves (cold water, gold, friends) and what she wants (flowers, a slime bath) and who she is (weird–aren’t we all?). But Kim received harsh criticism for invading her daughter’s privacy and posting it on the internet. And so I commented:

This fills my heart with happiness. You’re doing a great job, mama. (And hell, if I was suspicious or worried about my daughter at any age, from 5 to 25, I’d dive into the diary if I could get my hands on it. It’s your duty as a parent to protect your child, above all else.)

I received multiple responses to my comment, including but not limited to:

I hope you aren’t a parent and never become one.

May you never have children.

I feel sorry for your daughter if you have one.

I would be lying if I said these words didn’t sting. Perhaps my comment was misunderstood. I will do anything to protect my child, and if I thought I needed to read her diary to do so, I would. But only if I deeply felt I needed to. Kim Bongiorno had “a heavy, worried heart.” (Any parent should know how this feels, how nature makes it impossible not to worry about our little ones until the worry consumes everything inside of us.) What  if the secrets were grim? What if an adult inappropriately touched her or another child bullied her? There are some things in this world more important than a five year-old’s privacy, and it is a five year-old’s well-being. If your daughter couldn’t properly wipe away her own excrement and she didn’t want you to do it for her, would you respect her so-called privacy, or would you let her get an infection in her vagina?

As for sharing it with the internet, well, bloggers share a million details about their children. Why knock it now? Because the girl guarded the diary with lock and key. Scroll up to see a picture of my own locked diary from age 6 and tell me if you think I locked this up because I thought it was cool, or because I wanted to hide my thoughts from the world. Nothing in this diary shames me. I would share every page of it, if I thought anyone cared about its contents. By the time this girl gets around to reading everything her mom has ever written about her (if she ever does), the private thoughts of her five year-old self will become irrelevant.

Would anyone besides a mother care about reading a five year-old’s diary? No. If the five year-old has something to hide, which she doesn’t, shouldn’t a parent know about it? Or would it be better to let the abuse continue? (You never know.) Maybe it would it be better to occupy the opposite end of the spectrum and be neglectful?

As small children, we need nothing but the devoted love of our parents. Everything else follows: attention, care, education. We do not need toys or Disneyland or locked diaries. This tiny girl is obviously loved. Her innocence is obviously preserved. She will be okay.

Perhaps the critics feel their privacy breached by the internet every day, and so they are lashing out. Perhaps the critics do not have five year-olds who write of love and wishes, and so they are envious. Perhaps the critics wish they had a parent who cared deeply about them, and so they are hurt.

The critics represent the kind of people who see the bad rather than the good, who take themselves too seriously, who think parenting is about more than loving your child the best way you know how.

This mindset fuels the Mommy Wars.

These critical people believe in rules, they believe there is one right way for a billion unique individuals (their way), they believe that one flick of a wrist will fuck up a child for life. Worst of all, they believe that spewing venom and judgment will bring them power, rather than take it away.

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28 thoughts on “People Love To Hate (A Response)

  1. Thank you for this. And I’m sorry they went after you, too.
    I know my daughter is ok, that I’m doing a damn good job raising her, and that when she’s old enough to really understand why I told the story, she will be touched by what she did for me and for those who read the story and were moved by her joy, too.
    As for the thousand or so commenters bashing me? Well, hurt people hurt people. I think someone betrayed them and they now want to protect my kid from my betrayal. They don’t know me and can’t understand the dynamic my kids & I have, so there’s no way for them to be comforted by my words. So, they just go after me. Which is not my favorite way to spend a week, but I have thick skin. I can walk away. I know my kid is okay, and that’s all that matters.

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    1. “I know my kid is okay, and that’s all that matters.” Exactly. Your kid is more than okay, she is pure and innocent. I received roughly 10 responses to my comment, each one negative, and I brushed them aside at first, not wanting to waste energy on bullies. They don’t know me or my family yet they claim that I am unfit to be a mother. My daughter has it so good, and my stepson too, that it’s almost laughable. Almost, but not quite. Because the hate is real, and there’s too much of it (come on–10 negative responses to one positive comment? that’s a bit cray). We all cry about Boston but then some of us turn around and perpetuate it. It’s all connected, you know?

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    2. Honestly, it is not the job of a parent to be a friend, it is the job of a parent to be a parent. Reading the diary of a five year old is slightly different than reading the diary of an adult. The motives behind it are pure and caring, not controlling and nosy. I’d have done the same thing.

      PS. Being a blogger means big chunks of our lives are plastered all over the internet. We know this when we get into it. So does our family.

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      1. Yes, and I strongly doubt I would ever, ever read the diary of my adult child. Unless she was in danger, etc. I guess it was easy to take my comment out of context and use it as a means to attack. As another commenter pointed out, it’s about INTENT. The motives were pure, in this case. The critics can only see that which they want to see. NOthing new.

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    3. Kim,

      I had read your piece when it first went up. And I thought it was lovely. I didn’t comment(I like to +1 b/c I’m lazy LOL) so I didn’t see the crazy comments.

      I’m learning that people LOVE to nitpick and take things out of context and criticize every. little. thing. I’m sorry that happened to you.

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      1. Shell, yes, this is exactly what they did–they took it out of context. It is sad that humans tend to focus so much on the negative. But we can evolve, and I have hope that mankind can learn to interpret other’s actions based on intent rather than using the context of one’s own fears. It starts with us!

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      2. Thanks, Shell. And you know, a lot of people who did publicly reply got nitpicked, too. So I’ve been getting private support that no one else is seeing – private messages and emails. It’s been really moving. Thank you for telling me you understand.

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  2. Lucy, my thoughts EXACTLY! When I was in my late teens, twenty, twenty-one I journaled almost daily. My mother read my diary and used it against me when I was 21 yrs old. What Kim did doesn’t even compare to a breach in trust like the haters are accusing her of. She was sharing something beautiful that blessed her heart in hopes of it blessing others hearts. And bless my heart it has done. Love still exists and Love is still something worth writing in a girls diary for!! ❤

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    1. You are a rare example of someone who has experienced a breach of privacy from a parent and still understands the core of what Kim so beautifully conveyed. Good for you. And thank you for your love!

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  3. “… hurt people hurt people.” That’s what I was thinking when I read some of those retaliatory comments. It’s likely that those commenters’ 13- or 20- year-old selves were recoiling from a memory of their own breach of privacy. But I don’t know them, and I can’t guess what triggered their wrath. What I do know is that your comment was a very sweet one and that the story was coming from a place of care and concern. Neither of you are condoning gathering emotional ammunition. You both are just expressing your love and care for your children. ❤

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    1. Thank you. The sheer magnitude of the hate was what got to me. Hate begets hate. I wonder how many people only became angry at Kim after reading the other angry comments?

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  4. Beautiful post, and I agree that Kim’s essay was totally heartwarming. Those commenters are/were just looking for something to judge. (also, shouldn’t this all be about INTENT? Posting something of your kids’ online to gain something for yourself is much different than sharing beautiful thoughts and lifting people up. Or trying to, anyway!)

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    1. Ah yes, this so very true. It should be about intent, it IS about intent. All of those people claiming to be *concerned* about Kim’s daughter make me sick. Their intent is to bring her down, while her intent is to bring everyone else up. I continue to get comments from people who insist that I am absolutely idiotic for thinking this way. Well, I will continue to do so. We will see who is better off in the end.

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    1. Lol exactly. Sharing your kid’s happiness is so shameful, right? Of course they have their arguments, such as the 5 year old self never dies, which is even better for this girl. Not only is her 5 year old self a happy girl, but she will have reminders of this as she gets older. She will know a lot about who she is, because her mom chose to preserve it. Clicking over to your post on the Mommy Wars, thanks for leaving the link!

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  5. This is a great post. I often read things on magazine or news websites and see the hate scroll off the page. Even though these are not mommy specific, they are still hurtful words. I always go to the defense when I see people bashing someone for just speaking the truth- their own truth. And while the comments are an opinion (and everyone has one) hurting someone is a fact and people forget it exists when they speak their mind.

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    1. Thank you for getting at the heart of it. The internet is all about letting people speak their own truth, and respecting it. It’s ironic that they claim to be concerned for the girl, spewing judgments at her mother to “help.” I do like to see differing opinions, but these were not only opinions, these were nonsensical accusations. Hate begets hate, and a whole lot of people got on the bandwagon this time around.

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  6. People are so crazy. I am a super crunchy parent to 4 free spirited kids, and I am by no means a control freak. But privacy is non existent in our house. Seriously. None of my kids ever asks for it. And if they did, then I would give it. A five year old has no concept of privacy, secrets, or shame, unless it is put upon them by an older sibling or an adult. Children of writers will always be written about. I sure hope people also commented about how impressive it was that her child was writing in a legible and organized manner! Quite an achievement at 5!

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    1. Thank you for your comment. I have been getting continued criticism over at HuffPost for my own comments and it’s starting to make me feel a little crazy (am I wrong somehow?!) but yes, I can stand by it because of what you articulated: a five year old has no concept of privacy, secrets, or shame, unless it is put upon them. And no, I didn’t personally see any comments about this girl’s fantastic literacy (though I’m sure there were a few diamonds in the rough). People much prefer to focus on the negative. It’s sad, and I hope we can change this about the human race. It starts with us 🙂

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  7. Lucy, first post I’ve read on your blog and I’m hooked! 🙂 You have so much passion and thought invested in this post that it makes me want to read everything you’ve written.

    I feel like so much of the hate and judgement come from living in a society where everyone is so focused on their own lives, and how they do things, that they can not think outside the box and see why other people do things differently. Why does it matter to someone else what choices we make regarding our children unless we were somehow putting them in direct danger? People tend to forget that whatever our differences in lifestyle and opinion, we are all just humans, and we are all part of the same life really. I personally think there is beauty in that, in the intricacies and differences. That’s where stories come from. But mostly we all have the same intent, to do the right thing in whatever situation we’re in, and we shouldn’t be so harsh and quick to judge other people for not doing what we feel is the right thing. The right thing is variable.

    I would peek into my 5 year old daughter’s diary too, as I’m sure my mother did mine…because I do want to know what’s going on in her head, I want to be able to share in her life and know how things make her feel. At 5 years old maybe she won’t yet know how to communicate those things with me. I must be a horrible mother too!

    Sorry for the novel, thank you for the post, and it was fabulous meeting you at the meetup! I’m having a hard time not delving into the tea without my husband (he is SUPER excited about it).

    ❤ Molly – MaeLiveFree

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    1. Thank you for this comment, Molly. I really love it. Ain’t this the truth: “We are all part of the same life really.” I find it interesting, and sad, that people are so eager to judge, projecting their fears onto someone else’s act of love. It feels like “one step back” for the blogging community.

      Also, you are a wonderful mother and a lovely person 🙂

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  8. Amen sister. Your kids are lucky to have you as a mother. Our instinct is to protect our kids whether it is wrestling a bear or reading a diary. Thanks for writing this. We need to be easier on each other as a community of women. Mothering ain’t an easy job

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    1. Thank you. It’s about time we find some respect for ourselves and one another. The so-called village it takes to raise a child seems to be at war. Peace and love starts with us, here and now!

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  9. Lucy, I’m sorry that you had to deal with the negativity from your sweet, kind comment on Kim’s post.

    (an aside, HuffPo commenters are the harshest kind, seriously)

    I agree with you – if I had to, hell yes, I will dive into my child’s diary.

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