Oh, dear. Yesterday, a mom wrote that she prefers her son to her daughter. People expressed criticism. She wrote another piece explaining the first piece. And things only degenerated from there.
It's hard to write things on the Internet. You're putting yourself out there for criticism — instantaneous criticism — and sometimes you're left hurt, battered, confused that people can't tell, from these few paragraphs, that you're actually a real, whole, multi-dimensional person with a history of unimpeachable niceness. But that's the operative phrase: putting yourself out there. Readers only have what you give them. And when you bring your kids — and their pictures — into it, you're raising the stakes still higher.
Those of you with short memories may refer back to Kate's initial piece, in which she expressed that she'd bonded more with her son than her daughter, and then took it even further, writing,
There are moments – in my least sane and darkest thoughts – when I think it wouldn't be so bad if I lost my daughter, as long as I never had to lose my son (assuming crazy, dire, insane circumstances that would never actually occur in real life). I know that sounds completely awful and truly crazy.
There were, it's true, plenty of people who applauded the piece's honesty, who wrote in to thank the author for expressing thoughts they'd had themselves. Others, however, questioned the choice to put these thoughts on the Internet where, one day, her daughter could read them. The author took to the comments and defended herself hotly. And then, today, she wrote a follow-up.
In a post titled "I'm Not A Perfect Mother," she writes,
1) None of you in "internetland" know me well enough to understand why I'd write and publish such a thing (I actually pulled it for awhile but my real-life friends encouraged me to repost it)
2) It probably struck a little too close to home for many of you…you've had those same thoughts about one or more children in your darkest, most private times…and found it obscene to see your own worst thoughts out in the light of day
There's a lot of irony surrounding that post, and the reactions to it (and really, surrounding my entire online-writing career!). And in the name of honesty, I'm not done confessing. Oh yes, there's more….
I'm not a perfect mother.
There, I said it.
She goes on to explain that her own mother favored her brothers, that most of us aren't perfect, and that "That sort of honesty…is not that common." Oh, and as to her daughter reading this? She hopes she'll find it humanizing and cathartic. And once again, she has plenty of defenders.
But, see, people weren't upset by the initial post because she isn't "perfect." People weren't all put off because she had the honesty to say what they were actually thinking. "Don't presume to know anyone else's heart, particularly the mothers who disagreed with you," writes a reader. "Because just as you feel misunderstood by them, they are most certainly misunderstood by you for not feeling the way you do about one of your children."
I don't think any of the comments were accusing you of not being perfect. The issue most seem to have, and the issue that I have, is that you're posting these in a forum where they are public, you are public, and your daughter and her image are. We don't know you. I don't know you. I don't know what kind of parent you are beyond what you post, and based on that, it's easy to make a snap judgment.
And then, Kate goes into the comments to defend herself further.
Did NONE of you EVER have mothers that taught you that if you don't like something, to keep your mouth shut and walk away?! Instead of reading what you know to be a tiny, tiny snapshot into my life and condemning in nasty, insane voices - yes, INSANE - why don't you understand that you, like everyone, have also had crazy thoughts. And then just walk away. Got it? And go back and read my update to my last post. I NEVER "wished my daughter was dead" nor would I. Do you understand that? I'd be ready to kill YOU if you came to my house and told me you were taking her. If that was the only way to stop you, that is what I would do. I would stop at nothing to protect her. Yes, this is a public forum. I accept that. I understand that. I've considered that. And I would choose to share this with my daughter anyway so I do not think that this is a horrible, horrible thing. That is MY choice. This is MY life! I shared in hopes that it could help other women who feel the same and feel they are all alone. Because they are not. And some of them get it. Some don't.
So if you don't like it, walk away. I'm an AWESOME mother and I don't have to justify ANYTHING to any of you.
If you're anything like me, at this point you'll be feeling super-uncomfortable: understanding both the author's frustrations and cringing at her actions. That said, in my opinion, this should be essential reading for anyone even thinking about writing anything personal online. People aren't always going to react the way you want. And you've exposed yourself. And there's no going back — the more emotional you get, the worse things degenerate. At the end of the day, the last word has to go to one "Shea," who writes,
Lady, we didn't walk into your home and tell you that you were a bad mother. You put it on the Internet. The largest public forum in the world. And you put it on a location that has a comment box. Don't be surprised when we are shocked at your choice of venue, and don't be surprised when we use the comment section to express that shock. Seriously, this is like Internet 101.
I'm Not A Perfect Mother [Babble]
Earlier: Mother Admits To Loving Son More Than Daughter; Shitstorm Ensues