“Now, the Star-Bell Sneetches had bellies with stars.
The Plain-Belly Sneetches had none upon thars.
Those stars weren’t so big. They were really so small.
You might think such a thing wouldn’t matter at all.
But, because they had stars, all the Star-Belly Sneetches
Would brag, ‘We’re the best kind of Sneetch on the beaches.’
With their snoots in the air, they would sniff and they’d snort
‘We’ll have nothing to do with the Plain-Belly sort!’
And, whenever they met some, when they were out walking,
They’d hike right on past them without even talking.”
The Sneetches, Dr. Seuss
In the epic, divisive and frankly disturbing conversation in the comments over at Stirrup Queens, it’s clear that there is a lot of trouble brewing in ALI-land. The trigger is PAIL.
This is worth saying many times: Mel has put her heart and soul into building an incredibly inclusive and powerful community. She created a place for anyone in the Adoption/Loss/Infertility community to gather and make their voice heard. Not enough is said about her technical skills: LFCA is a very cool application that is incredibly easy to use. She built a huge blogroll from scratch and maintains it. She created and hosts a monthly event, International Comment Leaving Week, that is incredibly popular. She creates the buttons and the banners for all of these things. She hosts a yearly event, the Creme de la Creme awards, where bloggers pull their best posts of the year out. Finally is the Blog Round-up, hosted every week and curated by Mel, in which the best posts as picked by readers and Mel.
In addition to all that, she reads thousands of ALI blogs. And runs Prompt(ly), a blogging prompt service for our community. Plus, she also is an editor at BlogHer, manages NaBloPoMo for them and writes bestselling novels. She’s also an exemplary mother to twins and does much volunteer work. And she blogs so, so well, daily.
Writing all that down makes me feel like I waste a lot of time
She has also been a good friend to me. She worked tirelessly to help me get my blog back up. Mel is one of the kindest people on the planet. I admire her tremendously. I wish I could BE her. Seriously.
Mel mentioned “Sneetches” in her post, and I had to look it up because my experience with Dr. Seuss is limited to “The Cat in the Hat” and “Green Eggs and Ham.” She worried that the formation of PAIL is a “Sneetches” moment.
“When the Star-Belly children went out to play ball,
Could a Plain Belly get in the game? Not at all.
You only could play if your bellies had stars
And the Plain-Belly children had none upon thars.
When the Star Belly Sneetches had frankfurter roasts
Or picnics or parties or marshmallow toasts,
They never invited the Plain-Belly Sneetches
They left them out cold, in the dark of the beaches.
They kept them away. Never let them come near.
And that’s how they treated them year after year.”
Elphaba and I are also friends. I admire her a lot: one of her posts, about the Facebook meme, went viral amongst the world at large, and gained her a general audience. Outside influence is a big key to educating the world at large about ALI. Because we know the mainstream media sure as hell isn’t doing that, right MacLeans?!? Elphaba has also been a tremendous source of support for her ALI friends both publicly and privately. Seeing such negative remarks about her in the comments of Mel’s post is hurtful to me.
Here’s where it gets super complicated. It was maybe this post which caused Elphaba to really get motivated to form PAIL.
In it, I tried to answer the question, brought up by MoJo Working, is there an expiration date on an ALI blog? And what the heck is my blog? My passion is “Faces of ALI”: my next post is being written, and I apologize it’s taking so long. I hope that I bring a journalistic slant to the table, and I try to educate people about ALI so we don’t have to all feel so misunderstood.
“Then ONE day, it seems while the Plain-Belly Sneetches
Were moping and doping alone on the beaches,
Just sitting there wishing their bellies had stars,
A stranger zipped up in the strangest of cars!
‘My friends’, he announced in a voice clear and clean,
‘My name is Sylvester McMonkey McBean.
And I’ve heard of Your troubles. I’ve heard you’re unhappy.
But I can fix that, I’m the Fix-It-Up Chappie.’ “
Elphaba’s response reminded me that deep down, I do want to talk about parenting after IF, sometimes. The challenges of it. The feeling of parenting under a cliff that may fall on you at any time, because you have known and seen loss and, frankly, you are traumatized by the time you spent in the trenches trying to get pregnant. The use of wartime analogies is, according to a therapist I saw, appropriate. We have seen the “war” of infertility and loss. A lot of us have PTSD, from the NICU, from our miscarriages and losses. I would love to see a support group for us to navigate our way through this uncertain land. And that’s what I thought PAIL ultimately was: an additional tool in the ALI community. A robust group that would help me when I need it, just like LFCA and ICLW help me when I need it. I was thinking that I would pop in and out of discussion there, and title any posts “PAIL” so people could skip those posts if they chose.
To be honest, I thought of PAIL as a group similar to the “Open Adoption Roundtables” I often see written about on some blogs I read.
I assumed it was cool with everyone. I was wrong. Mel was very upset and hurt. And this is painful to see. Stirrup Queens is the hub of ALI land, the Grand Central Station, if you will. I don’t want that to change. I didn’t expect that to change. I assumed that would never change.
Mel is upset because she thinks PAIL used her ideas to create a universe where some members of ALI are excluded. She called it a “Sneetches moment”, because she already had created a blogroll of parenting after IF blogs. And she doesn’t want anyone to be excluded.
“Changing their stars every minute or two. They kept paying money.
They kept running through until the Plain nor the Star-Bellies knew
Whether this one was that one or that one was this one. Or which one
Was what one or what one was who.
Then, when every last cent of their money was spent,
The Fix-It-Up Chappie packed up. And he went.
And he laughed as he drove In his car up the beach,
‘They never will learn. No. You can’t Teach a Sneetch!’
But McBean was quite wrong. I’m quite happy to say.
That the Sneetches got really quite smart on that day.
The day they decided that Sneetches are Sneetches.
And no kind of Sneetch is the best on the beaches.
That day, all the Sneetches forgot about stars and whether
They had one, or not, upon thars.”
What’s become clear is that those in the parenting after IF community FEEL excluded. People are afraid of losing readers by talking about parenting, or else they say they have lost members because they talk about parenting.
My own personal take is I don’t want to have to trade in my ALI citizenship. I really don’t. I’d like to be able to visit PAIL, though: a community where I can talk about parenting. I might not reside there all the time or even most of the time, but it would really, really hurt to have to choose. I am a Sneetch after all.
What do you think?
PLEASE NO PERSONAL ATTACKS ON EITHER MEL OR ELPHABA. I WILL NOT TOLERATE THAT.
UPDATED: I feel the need to add that so many of us (me included) are worried about Mel being upset. But the truth is we are ALL upset: somehow this has triggered feelings of exclusion amongst almost every group on the ALI spectrum. These feelings must have been below the surface, waiting for something to blow. I feel like that is what is ultimately being expressed in the comments: people are worried of what their place is: whether it’s TTC, whether you are single, married, gay, TTC after parenting, adopting, parenting after infertility, going through cycles, going through loss, living childless/childfree after loss and or infertility, or surrogacy. I’m sure I’m leaving someone out and that’s the point: Mel includes everyone, at the hub. The problem is: how do we convince others that while we may need additional help from time to time among peers we would NEVER exclude anyone? That seems VERY clear: from even the harshest comments on there, NO ONE wants to exclude anyone. We are all Sneetches. So how can this be resolved? I have no fucking clue. Please. If you have any ideas, jot them down below.
All excerpts from The Sneetches copyrighted by Dr. Seuss.