If you write a parenting blog, you probably got the same email as I did.
The message was basically: "Hey, you with the blog! Click here to read this new controversial post and then tell all your readers about it so they come over and read it too!" It was a shameless bit of link-baiting, and I went for it hook, line, and sinker. I mean, I knew what was up, but I had to take a look. And here I am now telling you about this controversial post.
But I'm not going to tell you to go read it. It's not really worth it. If you read Babble today, check out the latest posts from John Cave Osborne instead (you owe me a beer, pal). *Update--I didn't realize this, but as I was writing this, John was writing his own response, here.)
Here's the gist of the "Major Mom Confession" post:
The writer, a mom of two who is expecting her third, admits that she loves her son more she loves his older sister. In a particularly weird twist that doesn't have much bearing on her controversial confession except in that it reveals what might be typically incoherent thinking on her part, she hopes that she is pregnant with a girl this time, so she can redeem herself by having a better relationship with the new daughter than she does with the older one. But the main point is that she loves the boy more than the girl, feels terrible about it, and feels it necessary to unburden herself of this in front of the internet.
The most "shocking" morsel from the piece is when she says, "There are moments--in my least sane and darkest thoughts--when I think it wouldn't be so bad if I lost my daughter, as long as I never had to lose my son (assuming crazy, dire, insane circumstances that would never actually occur in real life)." Then there are some qualifications and a little backpedaling, some rationalizations, and an emphasis that she feels a great deal of guilt about her favoritism.
Then the comment section (almost 400 strong when I read it) happens. And, lo, there is much rending of garments and gnashing of teeth and using of caps lock. I skimmed, but I did notice that in the comments, the author defends herself and says she hopes her daughter will read the post when she's older, because it will strengthen their relationship somehow.
I put "shocking" in quotes earlier because I suspect that this confession, even though it's probably based on her actual feelings, is quite calculated, and aimed at driving traffic to the website and the author's other projects.
Not like we all don't try to attract readers. But this stunt is pretty transparent and over-the-top.
Well, what if my cynical she-did-it-for-the-pagehits analysis is wrong, and she actually thought it was a good idea to announce her "least sane and darkest thoughts" on a very popular website? In that case, the cynical explanation is the much less horrifying.
If we entertain the possibility that she didn't do it for the pagehits, then why would she have written this? To let other moms (Babble is very mom-centric) know that they're not alone in favoring one kid over the others, and that they too should release themselves from the guilt by spilling their guts? That honesty is always the best policy?
There are times when being totally honest and forthcoming is totally selfish and destructive. And expressing your strong preference for one sibling over the other is one of those times. It's not like you can help it if you like one kid more than the other. But that's when, as a parent, you need to fake it for all you're worth. You need to fake it until you have convinced even yourself that you love your kids equally.
I don't know if that's what a therapist would tell the author of the Babble article (and a number of her commenters wisely suggested that she shit out her guilt onto a paid professional instead of the internet, and inevitably sometime in the future, her own kids), but this seems to me like an instance that calls for good old-fashioned repression. It worked when I was growing up and my parents never let on that I was their favorite. I knew it, of course: because how could it be any other way? And my parents knew it, naturally. But my poor, naive sisters had no idea. They probably thought they were the favorites. My parents were that good.
We all have our "least sane and darkest thoughts." (Don't we? It's not just me, is it?) But most of us have the good sense not to broadcast them in a way that will eventually hurt people we are supposed to be protecting from harm. If you become obsessed with those thoughts, you should probably talk to a professional or a really smart friend about them. Otherwise, just think about something else, for crying out loud.
Thus concludes today's sermon.