Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Elizabeth Edwards Didn't Suffer Criticism of Her Parenting Silently

*Cross-posted on Notes from the Asylum*

I can only aspire to be as strong and confident and brave as Elizabeth Edwards was in the face of her fatal breast cancer diagnosis, of the humiliatingly public love affair her longtime husband had with another woman that resulted in the birth of a child and of the cruel, ruthless criticism of her life's decisions after she learned that her cancer was incurable.

When I learned late today that the 61-year-old Edwards had died, I felt a pang of sadness because of all the sadness she's had to endure in the final years of her life. I searched the links to posts about Edwards on my Notes from the Asylum blog was struck by how she was attacked for writing her book called Resilience, specifically for addressing her husband's infidelities because people said it simply breathing new life into an old scandal. People had the temerity to accuse HER of making things difficult for her children. Elizabeth, not her philandering husband.

When Edwards took her young children along with her and her husband John during his recent presidential campaign, there were critics who had the nerve to tell her that that was a bad choice and literally called her a “terrible mother.” One blogger wrote: “Elizabeth, I don’t like the choices you’ve made. Take your kids home. Get off the freaking campaign trail.”

Edwards' response? She said: "With all due respect, what you would choose to do is relevant only once: When you choose how to spend your remaining days. I made my choice; because of our lives it was a public choice, but the choice doesn’t belong to the public, it belongs to me. And with all due respect, you have no idea what the quality or amount of the time I spend with my children is . . . You don’t get to say I am a terrible mother because you think you wouldn’t make my choice in my situation.”

Throughout all the garbage she was forced to endure, she stuck to her guns, advocated for issues about which she felt passionate, responded with intelligence to her critics and was classy to the end. Just today we learned of her final Facebook post:

"You all know that I have been sustained throughout my life by three saving graces – my family, my friends, and a faith in the power of resilience and hope. These graces have carried me through difficult times and they have brought more joy to the good times than I ever could have imagined. The days of our lives, for all of us, are numbered. We know that. And, yes, there are certainly times when we aren't able to muster as much strength and patience as we would like. It's called being human.

But I have found that in the simple act of living with hope, and in the daily effort to have a positive impact in the world, the days I do have are made all the more meaningful and precious. And for that I am grateful. It isn't possible to put into words the love and gratitude I feel to everyone who has and continues to support and inspire me every day. To you I simply say: you know."

Image credit: Mommy Tracked.

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