Today something crazy happened. Between the laundry, the lasagna, and the toddler vacillating between sheer joy and then rage-planking on the kitchen floor for no identifiable reason, I came across another blogger whose essay “Dear Stay-At-Home Moms, Shut The Eff Up” is currently trending. Rarely do I read things like this, knowing full well they are just inflammatory and will serve no purpose other than raising my blood pressure, but after noticing she has over 300k views on this post, I (jealously) took the bait. I wasn’t surprised to discover it was mostly what I thought it was going to be, though her overall message of being thankful for what you have is right on. But I was surprised to see how well received something so hurtful, judgmental and offensive can be, especially by other women.
I am very new to the blogging world. I actually have food in my fridge that pre-dates the start to my blogging career (if I can even call it that). But in a very short amount of time, I have been able to see how powerful and far-reaching words can be. I have also seen how someone who seems to be one thing on the surface, can actually be someone very different once you take 20 seconds and hear (or read) what they have to say. I say this after recently coming across a parenting blog so full of flowery, pink, frilly language it nearly made me gag, until I read her blog and saw it was about her baby who died. Her blog was a way for people like her to speak about their experience and help each other heal. Even writing this gives me goosebumps as I think about all she’s been through, and how quickly I judged her based on her name alone.
This is exactly what bothers me so much about this other woman’s blog. She is making broad, judgmental assumptions about what these weary woman have gone through. And even worse, she’s doing it on a very public platform.
When I started this blog I was very firm in sticking to one rule: I will not preach. And while I wrestle with whether or not this is indeed just that, I think it bares mentioning that sometimes we need someone to remind us, by preaching or not, to be human. There is a good chance that many of the greasy haired, yoga pant wearing whiners knocking on her door have been through some shit. Maybe she had (or has) postpartum depression. Maybe her colicky baby has drained the life out of her, and she is just barely hanging on by a thread. Maybe her friend died or her dad is sick. Or maybe she’s just having a bad day. But instead of tooting your horn, and preaching about how “you should be thankful for your blessings,” maybe consider just listening to her? Or bringing her a coffee? Or sitting with her colicky baby while she takes a shower to deal with that greasy hair you seem to have found so offensive? There is a good chance that even though she’s blaming the toilets she has to clean, there is actually a deeper issue brewing.
In a world where we are connected by emails, texts, Facebook and twitter, having up to date information on our 500 closest friends at our fingertips has done nothing to really bring us closer. Instead it has created a false sense of community, and tricked us into thinking we actually know what is going on with our friends, which, spoiler alert: we don’t. Having our baby has been an absolutely incredible experience, with moments so bright and beautiful I actually say in my head “If I died right now, I would be content,” and I mean it. But it has also been achingly difficult at times, and isolating in a way I wasn’t prepared for – something I would never feel comfortable sharing publicly in a way that would reveal just how dark and down I was really feeling. It wasn’t until I started opening up on this blog that I discovered how similar my feelings and experiences really are with woman across the world. Once, when I was really struggling, one of my friends came by with a latte and a crepe. She didn’t judge me for my greasy hair, or my yoga pants. She just fed me, gave me a hug, and squeezed my colicky baby. That kind of kindness, the humanity of that small action, makes all the difference.
I think in today’s pseudo-connected society, it’s time to bring back the old adage “It takes a village to raise a child.” We would all benefit from putting the village to use, rather than using it to publicly shame those who are struggling, or using it to flaunt your temporary victories. So let’s all be village people, or at least let’s try to be. From what I hear, the village has this club, the YMCA? They say it’s fun to stay there.