Defending Something That Needs No Defense

So I wrote this piece for DisneyBaby a while ago and I was really proud of it. It was about how hindsight had taught me that Luke’s arrival was exactly what the triplets needed because it forced the world — Caroline and me, included — to stop seeing them as babies.

But it was something I had to travel full circle to comprehend, as one of the things that tripped me up most about our surprise pregnancy was that I’d always assumed that the triplets would be our youngest, our most innocent, the fairest of our crew. The three little cherries atop the sundae that was our remarkable story.

So while I was obviously excited to have another child, I wasn’t so excited at having to reconcile the new and unexpected roles our trio would assume — that of big siblings.

As I wrote in the piece:

From the moment we announced their presence inside Caroline’s tummy, the triplets had garnered unprecedented attention. The fact that the babies which officially blended our family appeared in triplicate was enough, it seemed, to give the entire world license to dote on them. And by the time they were three, that trend was still in full force.

But everyone’s moved on to Luke now. Which means that our little baby has given the triplets room to play on their own. Room to develop faster than would have been possible had the doting continued. Room to grow into the children they were always meant to be. New versions with better balance than the old versions ever had. Three modest doses of middle-child-syndrome to help offset the spotlight that came with their multiplicity.

Nice, don’t you think?

I thought so, which is why I was floored to see that a few of the commenters chose to publicly speculate about my relationship with my stepdaughter. Negatively speculate.

One commenter lamented the fact that Alli wasn’t mentioned more in the piece, nor, for that matter, was she pictured. “Hopefully this child is not ignored in real life like he/she was in this article,” the commenter writes.

Another person had this to say: “Whatever did happen to the step child? Hope he/she is not locked under the stairs…”

So here’s the deal, y’all. I’ve had all kinds of mean-spirited stuff written about me in comments. Like the time I found myself accidentally pissing off legions of pregnant women. That comment thread was a real doozy. (Especially the one that accompanied the piece on Babble’s Facebook posting of it.)

But that’s just part of it — as it is to be a lot of other things, to be a writer is to get picked apart. To get told by simpletons what, exactly, the words that you write mean. What, exactly, you think.

And I’m good with that. I’m lucky as all get-out that I get paid to write. It’s something I love to do, you know — express myself with the written word. So if I gotta take a lump of coal here and there to have the privilege of getting paid to post my ramblings on highly trafficked websites, so be it.

Which is exactly why I usually let such comments roll right off my back. But I wanna make something crystal clear.

One thing that’s not fair game is for folks to falsely portray how I feel about my children.

Anyone who knows me, or reads me for that matter, knows damn well how seriously I take my role of stepdad. How thankful I am for it. How it’s enriched me. How it’s shaped me. To be perfectly candid, and at the risk of sounding self aggrandizing, some of the most beautiful pieces I’ve ever written chronicle (in a very non-specific, but respectful and loving manner) the stepparenting experience. They’ve been picked up by YahooShine and the HuffingtonPost and have also appeared on Babble and, combined, have garnered tens of thousands of pageviews (if not more) and the reason they’ve done so well is because they come straight from a heart that’s overflowing with love for my stepdaughter, not to mention with pride that I get the HONOR to play such a profound role in her life.

Look, y’all, trolls are trolls. And to speak to them is to almost to empower them. And that’s something I don’t wanna do because, to be frank, there weren’t very many in the discussion thread who said mean-spirited things. Many more, in fact, quickly got my back — some of them friends IRL, others readers whom I’ve never met but are nonetheless true friends, indeed, and others, still, total strangers who have kind hearts. So there’s no real story here except for the ugliness of one or two.

Which means I’ll end my speech here, but not before I take it in one final direction.

Some might say “that’s what you get for blogging — for being such an open book,” and I get that. But if you take a good long look at the kind of stuff I write, particularly the stuff I’ve written the past two full years, I think you’ll find that most of my content comes from a 30,000 foot view.

Example: when one of my kids has a (somewhat humorous) meltdown in public, well-meaning folks often say things like “Oh, I feel a blog post coming on.”

And while I understand why they say that, I also know that any such person doesn’t really read what I write. Because if they did, they’d realize I’d never write about such an event on its own — that the vast majority of what I write is not about such stories — that the vast majority is not micro. It’s macro, y’all. It’s about more than just a specific point in time. It’s about a common thread that many of us share, that many of us want to discuss.

Because it’s not as much about the Osbornes in specific as it as about parenting in whole. Not that I consider myself some sort of parenting expert, by the way. Because I don’t. All I consider myself is someone with a big heart who gives the institution of parenthood the type of thought and reverence it deserves.

OH. And someone who loves his stepdaughter just as much as his biological children.

I’m so sorry for this rant. And I promise there won’t be more of its kind.

I just wanted to defend something that needs no defense. And I appreciate you letting me do just that.

PS — if you wanna check out the piece on DisneyBaby that caused me such grief, please click here.

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About john cave osborne

John Cave Osborne is a writer whose work has appeared on such sites as DisneyBaby, Babble, YahooShine, TLC and the Huffington Post. He was also referenced by Jezebel one time, but he’s pretty sure they were making fun of him. He and his wife, Caroline, live with their five children and spastic dog in Knoxville, TN. Nothing annoys him more than joke-heavy bios written in the third person, with the possible exception of Corey Feldman.

  • Tracy

    Well said – as always.  I would carry on my own lecture here (which my three teenagers have been privy to multiple times), about how some people only put others down to make themselves feel better. But I won’t. Because it would only serve to give those people the attention they are looking for. Keep doing what you do. You do it beautifully. Enough said.

    • John Cave Osborne

      thank you, Tracy. it’s not like me to rant like that on negative comments. i’m a big boy, but ain’t nobody needs to go runnin’ ’round takin’ that kinda garbage about my relationship w/ my step. always love hearing from you. thank you so much for reading. 

  • Betsy Allison Tant

    Tell it like it is JCO. All dads and step dads should aspire to love like you do. You know your reality, and anyone who takes the time to really read your stuff knows you’re all about real life and real love for ALL of the kids.

    • John Cave Osborne

      xo, BAT. xo

  • the muskrat

    Haters gonna hate. 

    • John Cave Osborne

      amen to that, brother. 

  • Mlonon

    Great post

    • John Cave Osborne

      thanks, girl. sorry for the rant. 

  • Kim Salyer Griffin

    Perfectly said. 

    • John Cave Osborne

      thank you, kim. thanks for “listening” to me rant. 

  • tamara

    glad u didnt name him grande finale that woould be a teaser for life lol lol im a single mom of 6 (2)  boy teenagers the worst at times (2) girls middle age ok (1set) g/b 3yr twins ohh wat a workout on the ears lol and i want to say people will say wat they want cause sometimes they dont get good things said about them just love wat u do n ur kids all 5 of them n live life to the fullest as a new reborn christian we are here for gods purpose and to enjoy life so keep doin that

    • John Cave Osborne

      what, tamara? you wouldn’t have liked Grand Finale? ha ha. thank you, buddy, for your sweet words. single mom of six — WOW! 3yo twins to boot. absolutely incredible. 

  • Julie Higley

    Beautifully usual! You are the poster child for being an awesome dad to all of your kids! It is a shame that some have to always find something negative to say! I’ve loved seeing your quick transformation from bachelor to father of five…wow!

    • John Cave Osborne

      Julie — you are such an angel. thank you for your sweet comment–and for “listening” to me rant.

  • Miss A

    Great rant! You’re a great dad, to all of your 5 kids! Don’t worry about others, what matters is them. And if they’d taken the time to read your past posts, they would have read how much you love Alli. Argh. Whatever!

    • John Cave Osborne

      you’re the best, miss a. you really are.

  • Katie Allison Granju

    YOU ROCK. Love you.

    • John Cave Osborne


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  • Claire_gentry

    Love it. Great response. Those of us who know you KNOW that you have 5 children, loved equally, no doubt about it.  But I hope those ignorant a-holes who wrote that stuff will at least pause from their trolling and think a little bit after reading this post. Mwah!

    • John Cave Osborne

      thanks, Claire! i was thinking about y’all just the other day b/c summer is my season to see the Gentrys, but Luke and the triplets have kept me at home at nights while C is at the swim meets. i miss seeing y’all. hope everyone is well. 

  • Margie

    Well said, JCO!

    • John Cave Osborne

      thanks, Margie!

  • Korinthia

    A perfectly understandable rant.  Don’t blame you at all for wanting to get that off your chest.

    • John Cave Osborne

      thanks, korinthia. it was one of those that i wrote in like four minutes. and it felt pretty damn good, i must say. appreciate you stopping by to read. 

  • Erinmichele322

    I saw your post on Facebook via Disney Baby and its a good thing I couldn’t figure out how to comment from my phone! But from reading your blog post and how you handled the negative feedback you are now bookmarked on my browser and I can’t wait to read more!

    • John Cave Osborne

      @erinmichele322 — good thing b/c you would have gotten my back? either way, thank you so much. as mentioned, i usually let such things go, or if i do comment, it’s only a passing one here and there. but when people say that i don’t love any one of my kids, they’re gonna get a fistful of JCO. period. paragraph. end of story. i appreciate you reading and your comment! 

  • Niikki

    You almost sound like.. everyone else seems to love me, yahoo loves me, huffington post loves me.. why did that one person have to write a nasty comment and spoil it all? If you do get that your life is an open book because of your blog etc etc.. then why try to defend your posts at all?

    • John Cave Osborne

      fair point. i guess my answer is this: no one has ever before suggested that i don’t love my children. that’s why i wrote this post. thanks for the comment.

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