This is a photo of Elizabeth Edwards (taken by Josh Hallett) talking to Jen Lemen at BlogHer just over a month ago. It appears here, (aside from my high regard for both women in this photograph) because Jen's post on that conversation is critical to what follows.
Which is that on August 27th a particularly vitriolic post about Elizabeth Edwards appeared on Silicon Valley Moms. I learned of it thanks to Emily McKhann of the wonderful Cooper and Emily of Been There and The Motherhood.
It's been a long time since I've been this sad or troubled, especially by this community of women I have come to love and treasure. I was around for the days when playgroups of moms wouldn't let their (my) kids join because they would be coming with a baby sitter, when male colleagues questioned my (necessary) decision to return to work after the birth of my first child and when, as I recalled while at a news conference there yesterday, women journalists like me WERE NOT ALLOWED into events at the National Press Club; we had to sit in the balcony.
It seems to me that this post puts us back up there - separated, this time, not from the men but from one another. I posted a comment at SVM but also share it with you here:
As usual, I'm late to the conversation but I have to tell you I am shocked and saddened (how's that for original?) Women have been kept at one another forever – it’s a way to drain the power of what we become when we work together. Driven to judge one another in pursuit of acceptance, we make it far easier to dominate us.
Rebecca, (this is an edited version of what I had originally written - I'm trying to take my own advice) why judge another parent like that? Particularly one with EE's history? If you want to say "I wouldn't do that; I'd worry about my kids being too disrupted" or some other conversation-starter - that would be fine. But the level of vitriol and cruelty in this post (more powerful probably because your write so well) sounds more like Ann Coulter than a thoughtful mommy blogger.
I read that now you have changed your mind about portions of this initial post. That suggests to me that instead of trashing of a critically ill parent whose kids are getting the experience of a lifetime and more quality time with their parents than most American moms and dads can afford to offer theirs, you had saved this post as a "draft" and waited a couple of hours to be sure of what you wanted to say, you would have been grateful for the chance to rethink before you published.
Did you read Jenn Lemon's piece http://www.jenlemen.com/blog/?p=214 about her conversation with Ms. Edwards at BlogHer? EVERYONE -- did you? It's here - and helps to clarify why so many readers felt such deep pain reading this SVM post. She's a remarkable woman dealing with an unimaginable situation with grace and love.
These issues will always provoke strong feelings – the question is not whether we have a right to those feelings but whether we have a right to judge so harshly those who might choose lives different from our own.[NOTE: SPELLING CORRECTED 9/17]
OK that's my speech on the subject. It's just such a shame - OH - and take a look, if you go to SVM, at Ms. Edwards' initial response (it's magnificent)as well as her very classy second one this morning.