Tuesday, June 10, 2008


I got my first hostile anonymous comment today. (The first comment in the post below, for anyone interested in checking it out.) It’s funny—it was such a personal attack on my parenting that you’d think I’d be upset by it. But I’m really not. Both because the comment showed a fundamental misunderstanding of the post I had written and because this person doesn’t have the faintest clue who I am or what kinds of parents hubby and I are. And, more than that, I get that by writing a public blog I open myself up to this kind of malice.

And, frankly, I’ve seen worse. In a previous job, I wrote Op-Eds on a fiercely debated topic, and let me tell you, people can be vicious when you’re engaged in a public, heated debate. I remember once getting a personal phone call from a high-ranking government official who called me just to bitch me out about a piece I had written. I think I was 27 at the time. I think he would have been embarrassed to realize he was getting all worked up by nothing more than a young punk with a computer.

Now that I think about it, actually, I guess I started to subject myself to such scrutiny at a fairly young age. I can remember reading a New York Times article about feminism when I was a senior in college that got me really fired up. So much so that I wrote a letter to the editor, and it got published. When I returned to my dorm about a week later, I had a handwritten letter from some old man who’d attended my alma mater in the dark ages. He wrote me a four-page letter just to bitch me out, to tell me that a woman’s place was in the home, and to tell me that I’d never find a man. I still have that letter—my first piece of creepy and argumentative hate mail, I suppose.

But, today’s comment got me to thinking about how judgmental people are when it comes to parenting and infertility. I mean, the evil letters and calls I got when I wrote these other Op-Eds and letters to the editor made somehow more sense to me. I was purposefully engaging in the public debate on a hot-button issue for the express purpose of trying to persuade people. On this blog, however, I’m not trying to persuade anyone of anything. I’m merely cataloging my journey, my struggles. And so, when, cloaked in a veil of anonymity, someone without any knowledge of me takes the time to comment only to tell me I’m a bad parent, I’m left wondering, what’s the point? Not to help, surely, since the tone and substance of the comment didn’t offer anything worthwhile—no helpful suggestions or even assvice.

It’s curious, having a blog sometimes, isn’t it? We open ourselves up to criticism and scrutiny. But, I suppose there is some comfort. After all, as Ego surmises in Ratatouille (by far my favorite P1xar flic):

“In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read, but the bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.”

That’s of course, even truer of anonymous criticism…


Carbon said...

I admire your ability to brush off anonymous comments. I think they would still disturb me, no matter how irrational I would tell myself my reaction was. Thankfully my readers, if I have any, are silent. :)

Belly Laughs said...

HI! Great to catch up on how the babies are doing (and you)!

BAH to the anonymous person -- who cares what that person wrote because clearly they do not know you AND I agree missed the point of your post.

I hope you're all well and it is great to hear that the babies are sleeping so much at night -- excellent! I hope the transition back to work goes well. I will be eager to hear about it.

xoxox, belly laughs

Wibbs said...

Oh, give me a break!!!! I can't believe people still equate being a good parent to being at home. I'm not saying this fits you, but what if staying home makes you miserable and resentful. How could you still be a great parent!? It's nice to say don't put $$ ahead of your children, but money does open doors for your children not to mention things like food!!!!

Bee Cee said...

Good on you for being so level headed about it.

There are many schools of thought about what is good parenting, each with their own merits I am sure. For me, it is about choosing the right fit for you and your children and that is noboby's business but yours.

Why do people presume one size fits all?

Dianne said...

Wow - that was seriously someone on a soap box. Good for you for not letting it get to you.

By the way, I'd love to know what topic you wrote about :).

Topcat said...

Sticky - I've been reading your blog on and off for a while ... (congrats on your babes!!) ..

Just had to tell you, that's the best response to an anonymous hater that I've ever read! Good for you.

(Btw ... she sounded suspiciously similar to a recent commenter on Serenitys blog, re. work vs sahm)


anna said...

Good for you for writing this response to that anonymous hate-filled person. I, too, have been trying to get our babes on the Weissbluth schedule, but it seems you're having a better time of it than I am. And, I'm also going back to work in a couple weeks...you do what you got to do, right?! Some of us don't have the luxury of being able to be SAHM- so there, mean blog anonymous creep!

Ms. Planner said...

Wow, you are so gracious to the anonymous, judgmental person who left that comment. Wait. Of course you were gracious...that's your character.

As for the comment, hey, we are all in this together. Being a mom isn't easy no matter how you slice it. And we can beat each other up over differences. Or we can find common ground (surely there must one iota of common ground) and support each other.

I LOVE hearing the stories about MG and SP. And you are a star about letting your parents and in-laws interrupt the schedule. I don't think I'll be as gracious and flexible once Missy is on a schedule. (Please Lord let her get on one soon...)

Sarah said...

this is so timely for me! (i realize i'm late getting here...) but i am in the middle of a very contentious fight being waged in our local newspapers (among other venues) and this is SO great for me to have in mind as i (finally, reluctantly) make my voice heard. thanks, as usual, for your terrific perspective!