Thursday, March 29, 2007

Dear Ruth Marcus: Get Bent

Ruth Marcus opines in that oh-so-insipid way of hers that Elizabeth Edwards should back off campaigning for her husband because she’s got cancer. Incurable, but treatable, won’t-someone-think-of-her-poor-soon-to-be-motherless-children cancer.

Scholars and social critics more thoughtful than me can pick apart and mercilessly refute her arguments. Me, all I got is blind fury and a blog.

Many AOAPB readers know that my husband has incurable, but treatable cancer. Now you all do.

Ruth points out that there’s a double standard for women and men when it comes to handling illness. Well sure, as long as we got women like Ruth to reinforce said double standard.

Cancer sucks, no doubt about it. Incurable cancer sucks big-time. But the idea that Elizabeth Edwards is going to 1) die with horrible regrets for not spending more time with her children and 2) blithely announced to her children that “Mommy’s cancer is back! Now I’m off to campaign for Daddy!” just feeds horrific old-school stereotypes about cancer and motherhood.

Reality check: we’re all going to die with horrible regrets. For those of us who are parents, many of those regrets will center around things we did or didn’t do with our kids. But you accept this the minute you become a parent. You can’t let is paralyze you. Because if it isn’t cancer, it’s going to be something else that knocks you off your game.

It is possible to be a parent, wage-earner, and a cancer patient simultaneously. Only people like Ruth Marcus that think we should pick two out of three.

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