I found the letter an uncomfortable read: initially I felt like a second class parent as I failed many of this woman's parenting essentials. My second thought was relief that I didn't breast feed. But it's not that bad surely? I also began to be uncomfortable with the tone of it, and felt sorry for her son because of her martyred tone, and I recognised myself in her too. Then I caught myself on. Like everyone else on the internet, I was judging this woman, while knowing almost nothing about her.
It's a letter. As readers we don't know have the full picture of what her life is like, or the exact nature of her son's 'rude and aggressive' behaviour. Her son could be hitting puberty early. My son's behaviour also changed at age 10, and I did not cope well at the time.
Perhaps this mother is hurting inside, her gorgeous little boy who always looked up to her is now disrespecting her. As parents we all know this is likely to happen during the teenage years, but it can be a shock when a 10 year old does it.
Anyone who believes that they have given up a lot for their kids could feel some of this, especially if motherhood does not live up to their expectations. If most of your time and energy has been invested in your children, you could well feel depressed and even betrayed if they turn around and disrespect you and take you for granted. But if you do everything for your children, isn't there a danger that they this will happen naturally? Sadly it seems to be a human trait not to value the everyday quiet loving care that is provided by the stay-at-home parent. Else why does the one coming home from work usually get a rapturous welcome?
Most commentators condemned this woman, and many were very harsh, but one thing did ring true, because I've been thinking it too. Like me, this mum needs to be happy for her kids. I'm not talking about ecstatic happiness, but contentment, cheerfulness and positivity. Not at all times, obviously. They need to see all the emotions: grief when someone dies, anger at injustice, hurt when someone is cruel, but I think our children need to see that we are happy to be their parents. If they see us looking sad every day, they may think that it's their fault, even if we tell them that our happiness is our responsibility, as I do, they may still blame themselves
And perhaps that 10 year old boy may have that burden.
And perhaps, like me, that Mum needs to work on her own happiness. To help herself, and her son.