Yesterday I let a thought into my head that I have not entertained in my nine years of blogging.
“I don’t want to do this anymore.”
Through sharing my personal struggles and occasionally train-of-thought kind of posts about my life I have come to expect criticism, because in no way do I assume that we all see life from the same angle nor share the same experiences. However, someone saying that they hate orange and blue together is very different than being called a selfish, unstable mother and being told you don’t have a right to struggle with caring for an infant if you suffered infertility. I had no idea how much I could be affected by comments from strangers who don’t know me. How vulnerable I was in this area. But yesterday I sat in my car and cried. I allowed a handful of negative comments in a sea of support to make me doubt my convictions, life choices and abilities. I let them make me want to quit doing something I love and have loved doing for so many years.
Shame on me.
Shame on me for giving someone else that power. Shame on me for allowing some hypocritical jerk to make me question a decision I have not doubted for ONE SECOND since Henry was conceived. I do not blame those people for hurting me, they clearly have their own life issues fueling their rage, I blame myself for allowing them to do so. Motherhood has made me so much more vulnerable than ever before (and the lack of sleep certainly makes the soft spots all that more tender when bruised). Should I stop sharing as much personal stuff to protect myself? Maybe. But nothing truly great has ever happened from being cautious and scared off by criticism.
As one reader smartly said in a comment, just because my “hard” is different than your “hard” does not make it better or worse. Just different. In no way would I fault a woman for knowing she is best staying home with her children the same as I wouldn’t fault someone for deciding they want to be an astronaut. Both are really hard jobs and an individual life choice based on passions, interest, abilities and finances. How could I ever make that decision FOR someone else or shame them for making it for themselves? Hey you, why the hell are you an astronaut? I don’t like astronauts, I think you should have been a hairdresser! You suck! Sounds pretty ridiculous, no?
Because I put so much of myself out there personally and don’t maintain a strictly professional stance on this blog people think they know everything about me. Some feel like we are friends (which most of us would be in person- hey girl) and some feel like they know enough about me to criticize deeply. The drive some people feel to be mean on the internet is something I will never understand. I don’t get what one gains personally for taking someone else down in that way. It’s becoming a new psychological phenomenon that I assume will only get worse in coming years. And that scares me- not only because it will keep people like me from creating forums of discussion like this for fear of bullying and attack, but also for little Henry and what his interactions will be like online when he’s older.
As I was rocking that sweet (sometimes frustrating) baby to sleep last night my heart hurt and was full at the same time. I love him more than I ever imagined and want to give him everything, same as any mother. But I was sad wondering if I was doing enough for him. And then I had an epiphany- I want the world for him, but I want it for me too. And that does not make me a bad person. The happier and more fulfilled I am, the better a mother I will be. I want to show Henry through my actions that women are fierce, formidable creatures capable of anything and deserving of respect. I want to show him that with hard work you can accomplish anything. I want to show him that kindness is always the better path. I want to show him that bravery is not only found on mountains and on the battlefield, but also in exposing your weaknesses to others in search of a common ground.
And I want to teach him that the internet does not make you anonymous and that although it may seem like a virtual reality game, there are real people behind those profiles and screen names with real feelings that can really be hurt by your words. I venture to guess that if some of the mothers who left especially vitriolic comments yesterday found their children writing online to a peer in that same manner they would not pat them on the back and tell them they were proud of their behavior. Just a guess.
All that said, I have taken a new look at my schedule and personal needs from all of this emotional upheaval. And I’ve made the decision that starting Monday I will be cutting back my posts to Monday, Wednesday and Friday. My plan after Henry was born was to stick to that schedule for a year, but I felt such responsibility to show up daily for my readers and felt such a fear of missing out by stepping back that I came back full time too soon. So for the foreseeable future, that will be my schedule. Fridays will still be fashion and Monday and Wednesday will continue to be a mix of design and yes, some mom stuff. And no, that does not make this a mommy blog, it makes it MY blog- just as it’s always been. If you want design tips and advice without a personal angle, best to look elsewhere.
And to all of you who offered such wonderful advice and support and always seem to lift me up just when I need it- thank you. I love you. I will not let the shadows crowd out your rays, I promise. I am growing from these experiences and hopefully that will make me a better, more content person and better blogger too.