When Jade Ruthven received an anonymous letter in the mailbox telling her that she posted too many photos of her daughter, that she ‘p*ssed people off’ and ‘big deal… nobody cares…’ she was completely shocked. As the letter was seen on facebook it rapidly gathered momentum with thousands of women around the world equally aghast at the cruelty Jade had received. Mums across Australia posted words of support and encouraged her to not let bullying ruin a happy part of her parenting experience.
Baby Hints and Tips shared Jade’s letter but we also believed it was important to tell Jade’s story – not just be caught up in the social media furore of a mean-mummy letter. We discovered Jade to be a smart, compassionate and caring woman who loves being a Mum. Just like all the women in the BH&T community, so today here’s Jade’s own words on what happened, and what’s transpired since…
Tell us about being a Mum…
It was a big surprise to my husband and I when we found out Addy was on her way last year. I was terrified whether or not I was going to be a good mum and if I would know how to do all the things a baby needs. I quickly learned there is no right or wrong…. Since our daughter arrived I can’t believe how much love you can feel for another person. I absolutely adore being a mum and can hardly remember my life before it. I am so lucky that in the whole Addison is such a happy easygoing baby, of course this helps a lot! I feel so blessed being a mum and can’t believe I had previously considered not having children. Now I have experienced being a mum I can’t imagine life any other way. Like every mum some days are tough, don’t get me wrong, but when Addy is giggling away or when she wakes up and you see that little smiling face looking up at you all the harder days and hard work just disappears.
What part does facebook play in your parenting life?
FB plays a big part in my parenting life for many reasons. I have an amazing bunch of mums in my life through a FB mothers group called October Aunts (there is two Perth groups plus a national one). I don’t think I would have got through my pregnancy or the first few months of Addy’s life without being able to bombard these lovely ladies with my 101 questions day and night! No question is ever too big or small (or gross!) and this community via facebook has enriched my life tenfold. I wish every mum could have the love and support of this group, it’s a true blessing.
Addison’s grandparents are from South Africa and are living in Thailand at the moment so FB is the easiest way for them the catch up on what Addy has been up to. We have family and friends scattered all over the globe UK, South Africa, New Zealand and the US who also enjoy seeing what Addy’s been up to and what milestones she has hit – it’s a way to keep them in touch with our daily lives!
FB has also been great in purchasing things that I need for Addison, there are some great groups where you can buy, sell, swap and even give away or get baby stuff for free.
I think like many mums of my generation facebook is also a way to communicate with people, share your lives and enjoy easy social contact when motherhood can for some be an isolating experience. Being a mum can be lonely and having a way to chat and connect is incredibly important.
How did you react when you got the letter?
I was actually a little excited when I checked the mail and saw a hand written envelope thinking it was an invite – never in my wildest dreams did I expect what was in it!! At first I was in shock and thought this letter must be a joke. I read it and re-read it about 4 times. I was shaking with anger and shock to think a so call friend of mine could be so heartless and gutless to not even sign their name.
I immediately thought this could not be a very close friend of mine. A close friend who knew me well would know that I was not going to cry in a corner and take myself off FB. That afternoon I posted the letter online. I wanted people to know what I had received and to see that I was not hurt or going to slink off into online isolation, I wanted to shame the people who wrote that horrible letter and let them know they had not brought me down.
Of course, I had no idea it would become a sensation like it has. All the love and support I have received from family, friends even total strangers has been amazing. The fact that I have no idea who it could possibly be that wrote this to me saddens me the most. I don’t think I have had an enemy in my whole life and I believe I am a good person who is kind and genuine. To have someone do this to me, in truth, makes me feel sick. Lucky for me (and maybe the letter’s author!) I am a strong, healthy person. Being a first time mum is hard enough to get your head around but for someone who was feeling alone or who was struggling with the challenges of motherhood this could have had terrible consequences.
What would you say to the person who wrote this letter?
I really have no idea what I would say to this (maybe these?) people. I think it would depend on how good a friend it was. I don’t have a huge circle of friends who I see socially on a regular basis so if it is one or more of these people I’m sure they will be outed fairly quickly. I hope I would never stoop to their level; my hope would be to just walk away and cut them out of my family’s life for good. If in the instance this is someone who is struggling with their own demons or has problems and this letter didn’t come from a place of pure hatred that could be a different story. I would hope they got help and then we could reassess our friendship. I guess I would say I feel disappointed that the person who wanted to communicate this message to me did so in a cowardly and cruel way. It could have been handled differently for sure. Would I have stopped posting Addy? Never! But I don’t respect their bullying approach at all. Understanding why they did it and what they thought it would achieve would be a start…
What good has come of this experience?
I’m a firm believer in that something good always comes from something bad. I have realised what an amazing and supportive group of family and friends I actually have, and that I’m not a horrible mum for being proud of my daughter (and wanting to show her off at every opportunity!). Everyone has had my back and the overwhelming amount of loving heartfelt messages of support is what has got me though this. I hope this has also shown mums (or anyone really!) that bullies should not win and that you can stand up for yourself. Please don’t suffer silently. I’m strongly against bullying of any form and this was bullying at its finest. But then again most people know who their bully is…
On a greater level I think the passion that has been shown on social media for what has happened to me is also interesting. It shows a cultural shift in mummy culture that bullying won’t be tolerated. And that’s a wonderful thing.
And no article on this story would be complete without pictures of gorgeous Addy herself. Lots of them! (Images provided by Linda Wild – Owner & Photographer at rg wild photography)