That is just one of the harsh statements a young woman (K) with whom I graduated Barnard College wrote to me a little over a year ago.
K's words came out of the blue and, for a long time, hurt me so much that it was hard to think about her judgment and condescension without curling up into a bundle of tears.
It didn't help that she sent me this message at a time in my life when I was feeling particularly vulnerable.
I was already frustrated by my unemployment and my status as a single mother; and I'd been sinking further into depression because of the shame people already made me feel about my circumstances. Her words were like a knife to the spleen.
Here is K's original message, the one that started it all:
I'd kindly remind these people that I am not a case study. Neither is my life as a Latina mom. I have no obligation to answer people's condescending questions, supposedly born of "curiosity," because they are confused by my life's circumstances.
I write about my life on Equis Place as a means of connecting with others, but what I share is at my own discretion.
As my readers know very well, I speak honestly and openly, in accordance with my Blogger's Creed, about my experiences as a woman, a Latina, a mother, a lover of words and a person; but I am in control of how much or how little information I relay to the public.
Anger that this woman would think it's okay to call me "stupid" and "lazy" and tell me I've wasted my years of education by becoming a mother.
I was so upset I answered, "I am not here as your subject to study. If you'd like to learn more about me, please read my blog" and blocked her on Facebook.
Then, I called my son's godmother Naima and cried hysterically on the phone with her, saying, "How dare she question my life's choices? What did I do to her to make her be so mean to me?"
My best friend encouragingly told me, "She's wrong. You are a wonderful mom and are impacting people with your writing."
I. When you say "vice," I gather that you are referring to sex. I think it's strange to call someone's natural desire for intimacy and love a vice. It's human.
I don't agree that my son ruined my ability to "repay my investors" for the education they helped provide me with.
In fact, in spite of the difficulties of parenthood, motherhood has made me a better person--
I suppose you'll require that the person never be unjustly terminated from their job due to discrimination; and should that happen, you'll require them to immediately find another high-paying job.
Or is it that you'll require your 'beneficiary' to either a) be abstinent, b) use birth control or c) have an abortion if they get pregnant?
You know what's funny, though? You're right about one thing--"women like me" do have trouble financially. As Kelly Hagan writes for Good Morning America, "Mothers are 44 percent less likely to be hired than women without children, and they are paid $11,000 less."
Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, Executive Director of MomsRising.org, agrees on ABC News, "Women without children make 90 cents to a man's dollar, while women with children make only 73 cents to a man's dollar. We have a huge problem with pay discrimination against mothers."
But does that really mean that women must have children only at specific times in their lives?
Should every woman be obligated to spend most of her life childless while pursuing a career because our unjust society dictates that having a child is in direct opposition to a woman's success?
Shouldn't "women like me" and childless women like you be working to change the system instead?
I could have not been intimate with my son's father, I could have used a better birth control method or I could have had an abortion to kill the life within me.
I could have, but I didn't and that is just the path I've followed. I have many regrets about my life but giving birth to Equis is not one of them. Really, I do not need to explain any of my choices to you.
Also, being unemployed does not mean I am lazy. Sure, I spend my days cleaning a made-messy-by-a-toddler house, running countless errands, taking my son to his doctors, therapists and school, and otherwise taking care of my family; but I also work as a writer.
My job is to think critically and write relatable blog posts, a few of which have been sponsored or featured by high-profile sites.
This life may not be the ideal one for some women and it's not exactly mine either, but I'm proud to do what I have to do as a woman, as a girlfriend and as a mom.
My entire life was turned upside down by my son's birth. He dictates most of my actions and most of my thoughts, and I barely have any time for me.
But a mother does what she has to do to take care of her family, to raise children that will contribute positively to the world we live in.
Your words from so long ago still affect me to this day, but I refuse to let your thinking overwhelm my own.
Yes, my life is not perfect, and I am not always happy with the way things are.
My life is certainly not the way I "planned for things to work out," but not all of life can be planned--especially not when it comes to the miracle that grew in my belly--and I'm learning to be okay with that.
K's words no longer choke me up the way they did before, and I thank God that I have great friends who show their support for me with messages like these:
- How would you have replied if you were in my position?
- Have you ever been criticized for choosing to become a parent?
- How do you handle it when someone passes judgment on your lifestyle?