Friday, June 15, 2007

How Not to Answer an Email

Remember that cool table that my aunt sent for the boys? The one I posted about before with the picture? I sent that picture to her with an additional thank you (in addition to the hard copy snail mail thanks I sent weeks ago) last week. I just thought she'd like to see the kids enjoying it. Here is the email she sent to me in response:

"I loved the pictures of the boys around the table. They really looked like they were having fun. Jake is a beautiful baby and he even looks easy going. I don't know how you do it with seven boys but you need to read "The Color of Water" as it is about a woman who raised a bunch of kids too.

I worry about you, where is your life outside the house and in the world? You can't just be a Mommy forever, you need to let Gretchen grow as adults need to do. You are a great mother and you chose to have a bunch of kids but you need to have your own time too. You need to show the boys that woman are not just Mommies. I realize Chris doesn't want your kids in school but at a certain point you need to put your foot down and let the boys learn about the real world instead of keeping them in the house for their lifetime. Even if you don't like the schools you need to be their advocate and then any school will work. They need to know how to pick friends and how to get along in the real world. It is a necessary skill set for life. I am sorry to preach but you must realize someday that you are not doing them a favor especially as they get older. Life is not as scary as you think, it all depends on who you are and what skills you learn to cope with events in life.

I do love you and I do worry about you and I am sure you are happy but I do think you could be happier. At your age you get second chances at mine you don't. You need to get unstuck which takes courage.Life takes a lot of courage but how do we learn courage if we don't take chances? Think about this stuff, don't be mad at me for speaking out.

Can you say UGH? I was up most of the night after reading it, writing responses to her in my head. I will not send any, because she will never understand me and my choices, and she will never hear me. The most I can do is make her feel bad, and I don't want to do that. Better to just not drag it out. But sheesh, can't she just reply with "Cute kids, glad they like it!"? I hate it when she does this.


Melanie said...

Ugh! Grin and bear it, I guess!

Galen said...

Duh, hello. Does she not realize that she needs to develop a few of those life skills she talks about, like, for one, minding her own business? I greatly admire your wisdom and maturity in choosing to rise above such rude, unwarranted comments. Your family is beautiful.

cndymkr said...

Is it possible that she sent you this out of love? I don't know either of you but it sounded like there was some love and worry for you in that letter. Good luck with it.

Jody said...

Wow. I guess the way she says "all those kids" makes me they are a big heap of mashed potatoes you need to resist. Or a pesky bunch of squirrels. Blek.

I only have 4, and I get this kind of stuff too. Best to ignore it I suppose, but I would be frustrated too.

Anonymous said...

I am sure she did mean it with love...and you can just reply with thanks for her concern but that you feel the life you have chosen is best for you and your family. But that you realize that she loves you and that you love her too. That is what families do...advise with love....and lovingly ignore the advice LOL.

Anonymous said...

If you don't care what she thinks, why let it keep you up?

She might appreciate a response which acknowledges that the choices in contention are unusual, compared to most people.

People tend to have a motivation for what they do, no matter what it is. I think she's searching for your motivation. "Because I want to," won't suffice because that only answers to basal desire.

Large families require a special sort of lifestyle - which has become uncommon outside of agrarian societies. That lifestyle involves a lot of sacrifice and denial of material luxury. Many people are uncomfortable if they aren't working towards some sort of luxurious reward. What then is the reason to go to a dead end job? Your ability to transcend this need is admirable, but rare.

In addition to lifestyle choices, it is hard for some people to understand the delicate balance of relationships between husbands and wives if it doesn't mirror their own. There's no other way to deal with that than earplugs. I'm sure that someone might want to argue with her about her own marital power structure.

Rather than fume (inefficiently) about her criticism of your choices, why not take the time to consider if anything - anything at all- deserves your attention. I know I've adopted changes in my life even if at first I was convinced that the person offering them was misguided at best. Let the rest go.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like your aunt cares for you and wants the best for you. It seems she recognizes all your hard work and wants to make sure you are taking care of you.

Sometimes it's hard to see the forest from the trees when you work so hard at being a mom. Take time out, challenge yourself, trust yourself and decide what's right for you.

Anonymous said...

I have to believe that your aunt wrote what she did out of love and concern for YOU as in individual. The day will come when your children are no longer at home with you.... and then what? Will you be ready for that?
I'm sorry, but I do agree with what she said about your children going to school instead of being kept at home. Your boys need the experience of interacting with a bigger variety of other children. I know from your posts that they do see other kids, but it seems they are missing out on a lot of experiences they could be having.