Friday, June 13, 2014

An open letter on being offensive

I sat to down write my One Hot Mess for the day but it seemed unnatural to come up with something funny when there is so much serious commentary going on in the comment section of my last post. I have been toying with the topic of being offensive and so I think I'll just get this off my chest today and we can reconvene One Hot Mess next week. So, store 'em up. Capiche?

I'm relatively new to having an audience that is not just my mother. Now there is more of you which means there are more people to like what I'm saying and more people to not like what I am saying. More people to like me and more people to not like me. And I signed up for this so, ok. But I want you to like me. And confrontation is hard. It knots up my stomach and makes me shake. Literally. I shopped for shoes at Target yesterday with shaky hands after reading a few, new comments on that last post of mine.

I'm not looking for sympathy. I signed up for it. I'll take it.

But, it made me think about how to draw the line between rightfully defending myself, not wanting to offend, and not feeling so bad if I unintentionally do. It made me think about how many things about my life could possibly offend you. How many things could make you dislike me or make you think I'm criticizing you for being not me.

(For the record, I'm not.)

It's easy to assume that because someone does things differently that you, and because they are open about those things, that there is an underlying, automatic judgement towards every other method.

Fact: I have had 5 unmedicated births. 4 at home, 1 at a birth center. But I do not judge you for your epidural or your hospital. I just might meet you there someday. I would like to try and play Uno at 8 cm. It actually sounds awesome.

Fact: There might be medicated birthers who still feel judged, and others who think I'm a fool or bad mother, and natural birthers who feel like I am a terrible representation of the clan because I just said an epidural sounds awesome.

And that's the tip of the iceberg when it comes to reasons mothers war against each other, isn't it?
Do you spank? Do you vaccinate? Do you sleep with your kids? Do you let them in the yard unsupervised? Do you let them walk to the store? Do you let them climb trees? Do you let them drink soda? Do you bathe them often enough? Do you let them eat food off of the ground? Do you yell? Do you not yell? Do you have scheduled c-sections? Do you have your babies alone in the woods in a bed of moss? Are you ruining your children? Are you ruining your children? Are you ruining your children?

It's exhausting.

The truth is, I might write some more things that really bother you. Maybe you will be angry at me for them or think I am hoisting myself up on a pedestal or claiming an authority I am unworthy to claim. My shaky hands in Target yesterday forced me to decide that if I am going to blog, I've just gotta keep doing it. I, most certainly, need to keep checking myself and being humble, but I've got to allow myself the freedom to sit down and tap out a post about breaking baby rules, or faith, or parenting, or my grout, or anything else that might make you upset. Some of you will read that paragraph and think- Cool, I totally respect that. Some of you will read it and think- Wow, further condescension and soapboxing. It's an amazing lesson in our collective diversity and in our inability to control the reactions of others.

But, if I do make you upset, my sincere advice you is stop reading this blog. Not because I don't want you here or because I don't want your opinion. Because I do. I really do. Maybe you will tell me something I really need to hear and I'll be so grateful. Maybe it will make my stomach knot up and I'll learn a lesson in healthy stress management. I ask you to click on because my genuine hope for you is that you don't to spend your time coiled up in anger about a blog post. If you were my friend in real life, I would say the same. 

This is not a defense. This is simply me rooting out my intentions for this blog. And it's probably mostly for myself as I figure out who to be here, in this little blip in the giant universe that is internet. I don't want to make you mad. I don't. But I'm going to keep saying things. I'm going to keep honestly sharing our life. I'm going to keep that blog header up. And I'm not going to feel so obligated to defend it all.

My (almost crippling) fear of confrontation can make my head spin. If you tell me I shouldn't be doing what I'm doing, even if I should, I will hesitate and I will question myself and I will get shaky. And while a part of the virtue of humility is being able to gracious accept chastisement, a part of the virtue of courage is keepin' on. I hope this blog to be a lesson in both.






49 comments:

  1. Hey, I hope you feel better. I write this as someone who has not always agreed with you in the past- I like your blog. I'm glad you are going to keep going.

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  3. You are great, and I aspire to be a mom like you in the not-too-distant future. Please keep writing so I can continue to learn from you, admire you, and enjoy your blog immensely!

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  4. Hi, I just reading your blog about a month ago by way of another blog. I'm glad you're pressing on as you should and have every right. People in general ( guilty here) take things waaaaay too seriously sometimes and it's good to remember that not everything in this world is meant to offend. Besides it's your personal blog... Preach on about what you like! I'll keep checking in!

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  5. You're style of writing rocks! :) People often take others (and themselves) too seriously. We have to encourage chillness. More chillness people!

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  6. Love this! And I loved your last post, I sat there reading it and shaking my head in agreement. So many of those things have worked for us. I think your honest and open approach to blogging and parenting is refreshing! Go on with yo bad self!

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  7. AMEN girl! I am right with you on the shaky second-guessing. Crippling fear of confrontation? Checkity check right here! However, I think a call to common sense is refreshing. Hey, everyone, why don't we NOT assume the worst of everyone ALL the time, yes? Let's just all be different, together. Wow, rambling. Anyway, I think you're great and I'm glad you didn't get scared away from blogging. Rock on.
    <3
    Jennie in San Diego

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    1. I was going to say all this too-- so I'll just heartily agree. That and as someone with a firsthand knowledge of the crippling fear of confrontation, I am so impressed by your willingness to write about "touchy" stuff (I include your I Am a Catholic story here too), be honest, and put it out there, as they say. Also, someone complained about your blog header? Sheesh.

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  8. I read your last post. As a new mom (who follows ALL the rules with fear and trepidation, at least for a while), I didn't think you intended to be condescending at all, but meant it to be empowering. But, you know, people are just going assume that just because you do something a certain way, that you think every other way is wrong or lacks merit somehow. Which is obviously not true. It's a pretty uncharitable assumption actually. You just keep doing your thing and I (along with plenty of others, I'm sure) will keep on reading.

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  9. Hi Blythe, I'm a new-ish faithful reader and I like your take on this. Such a hard thing. Knowing yourself and knowing why you're doing what you're doing is challenging, especially when you are also giving yourself to your family in your vocation daily, which also asks a lot and involves a lot of self-examination. I find your posts really refreshing and I think the more people do these clarifying posts to remind us all why we read and why you (bloggers) write, the more at peace we all can feel as we learn from each other and take it all in, absorbing what is helpful and setting aside what's not. I studied theology for my Masters and I had one professor who was so good at reminding us, as he'd share an anecdote from a Saint or theologian that *wasn't* dogma or core teaching but more inspiration or spirituality or something: "if this is helpful, use it, meditate on it, great; if not, just forget it and set it aside." I think you are basically saying the same thing, but he was really one my most trusted and cautious professors and I think he really understood that we were all going to come at our understanding of the faith and theology differently. I loved him for it, as my program got really intense at times and the climate of the *people* and comparisons to one another could feel stifling to me in my insecurities. He gave me permission to be me in that small way, and to absorb and integrate what I was learning in my own way. :)

    Thanks for sharing your awesome mind & heart & home with us!!! It takes guts!!!

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  10. Hey, just delete the comments you don't like and you'll be fine! The only thing i want to say- and I thank God at least you'll see it- tho I know you'll delete it- is that SIDS rates went down 50% when people were educated about putting their baby on their backs to sleep. It's fine if you don't; just please don't undo that education. Babies lives are literally at risk, and I know you wouldn't want to be responsible for a tragedy. -Nadine

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    1. I already deleted it, Nadine. Not because I disagree but because I'm not ok with accusatory and mean in my combox.

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  11. I think that one of the most terrifyingly difficult things to do in life is to be yourself. To do that Bravely. To pull together the most important aspects of yourself and just Be. You.

    I think that your blog is wonderfully honest and open, and that it is a breath of fresh air. Seriously, I don't have a lot of time to invest in facade. Not for myself, not in my close friends, and not even in blogs I read. I just want to experience life in an authentic way (as best I can).

    So I say, bravo- yes keep doing it and for the record; I never once thought that the last post was anything offensive.

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  13. Blythe,
    I loved yesterday's post about breaking the rules of "popular wisdom". I'm very comfortable with your style of parenting. All my babies slept on their tummies, and they all turned out pretty good. Keep being true to yourself. You'll never make everyone happy. Love,
    Marita ( Kendra's mother-in-law)

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  14. I liked your post yesterday. Then I read the comments and I was so bummed for you because I just knew you didn't intend for all that.

    I like this post a lot too. It's the perfect response. Brave and humble!

    We're all in this together!

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  15. I've only started reading your blog a few months ago and I can honestly say that I am inspired by your courage to live the faith and to both walk the walk AND talk the talk. I am in the exact same boat as you... I get all teary and glum when I'm in the midst of confrontation and sometimes want people to like me too much. BUT! You and your previous post were a great encouragement to me to continue to become my own person, to practice virtue and grow in love of God and neighbour! Thank you and God bless you!!

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  16. I tried to write a comment about how I feel for you, but I deleted it three times because I can't make it sound right, which makes me respect you even more for being able to get your opinion out there without sounding mean or judgy at all, no matter what some people say! FWIW, I have been letting my third sleep on his tummy since he was an infant, but he's a big tough guy and we have an Angel Care monitor, which makes me less nervous about it. I NEVER would have let my first sleep on her tummy, because I was a very nervous first-time mom, and I probably wouldn't have liked to hear anyone else say they did it either. Experience changes things. (I also think that Mary of Better than Eden had an interesting theory about tummy sleeping and the toxins in crib mattresses. http://www.betterthaneden.com/2012/01/on-sids.html)

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  17. Loved your post Monday and I love your posts everyday. I know I wrote a private message, but you inspire me and I love to read your thoughts and hilarious commentary. It probably doesn't hurt that I am a water birthing, cloth diapering, co sleeping, tummy sleeping mom. Keep on blogging your life. I relate too much to the fear of confrontation. I can feel your shakes. God bless you and your family.

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  18. Keep on keepin' on and ignore the haters:)

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  19. Hmm. I just read your last post, and I can definitely see why people disagreed with you. But I feel like the people who did disagree with you weren't unkind or mean-spirited. Obviously you could have deleted those comments, I don't know. But it doesn't seem like that post deserved this follow-up post. Honestly, you didn't get a whole lot of pushback on your opinions in your last post.

    I think if you want to talk about controversial things you have to develop a thick skin. You wrote that you don't want people to read this blog if it means they're going to live in whatever negative emotions it might inspire. I get that, but at the same time it sounds like the person who really had a negative reaction was you -- a very physical, anxious reaction to a small handful of people disagreeing with you. I guess what I'm saying is that maybe it isn't worth it to write about controversial things if you can't take 4 or 5 people (out of what, 40?) saying they think you're wrong.

    I hope that didn't come across as rude, because I honestly mean for it to be kind and sincere.

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    1. I realized that I didn't hit reply when I responded, so see my original response below. I think it's important to add to some of these comments where extremely accusatory- to insinuate that I might somehow contribute or be responsible for infant death seems to be just about one of the worst things you could accuse a person of. Particularly in light of the fact that this is a blog, not court ruling. I think I was quite justified in my reaction, both the nerves (as much as I dislike them) and this post.

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    2. Actually, I believe that you COULD be sued and possibly held legally responsible if a baby died after tummy sleeping and the parents claimed they did so on your advice. Is it likely to happen. No, of course not. But, is it possible. Yes. Anyone can sue anyone for anything at any time. I am a blogger and my husband is a lawyer and he is always making me put little legalese disclaimers into my posts. This is why almost all websites have disclaimes and legalese and "this is not medical advice, consult your dr, blah, blah, blah."

      Not to say you shouldn't talk about tummy sleeping if that works for you but you could have written about it a bit differently. Instead of writing "Let them tummy sleep" you could have written something like "Tummy sleeping works for us" THere is a big different between saying "you should do this" and "this works for me"

      I'm not trying to be critical, but it is something to keep in mind if you are going to giving advice that goes against major advice from the AAP.

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    3. I'll look into that, Amelia. Thanks.

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  20. Hi Rachel. For me, this post was warranted. But the great thing is that you don't have to agree, or care, or any of that. It looks like you write, too. I'm sure you appreciate the freedom to write as you please, when you please, and how you please. I suppose this post was a bit of a skin thickening exercise for me. So, you're right on that. But my response to comments, or private emails, or reactions, is mine alone. I'm grateful for the ability to respond to it as I see fit, despite all my weaknesses and nerves and emotions.

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    1. Blythe, I think you may have taken my comments in a way I didn't intend. I'm not invested in what you choose to write here at all. You're a grown up and you can do what you want, but a blog is a public forum and not a personal diary. If you write about something controversial you should expect people will disagree with you. My concern was that you're openly so anxious about the opinions of a few people who don't like what you said. It was honestly a concern for you as a human being putting yourself through needless anxiety and stress, and not anything to do with your blog persona or the blogging world. It came from a place of love for other people, but I don't think you took it that way at all. So I'm sorry for that, because I would say the same thing to a friend. Anyway, I'm just going to show myself out.

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  21. Hey Blythe. I read your post about rule breaking and loved it. I didn't read the comment section. I think there's a wisdom that comes with having more kids and honestly, it's nice to hear that I won't be paranoid about everything, forever. :) Keep on keeping on. It's hard to hear mean things. I haven't had many mean comments on my little blog, but they sting. I get that. It's okay to feel what you feel and it's great that you'll continue to write. I love it!

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  22. I loved your last post - it compelled me to leave my first comment here - and you've written well again today. This post is so honest, commonsensical, and gracious. Thank you for replying in such an appropriate way to those who may have attacked you in an outrageous and hurtful (and quite frankly, ridiculous and narrow-minded) way. You continue to be a witness to what it means to be a gracious Catholic... and a mature adult in general! Nice job!

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  23. Hi,
    You are doing a great job. I started following this from watching you on "Soul Pancake>" I loved the way you handled yourself and seeing the joy in your kids and your household. You do a great job expressing yourself and I think this post was spot on. SOme people love to argue and confront. I do not. If I don't agree I just move on ya know? We are all on a journey and I love being a part of yours...even if it is in a passive way. Keep up the good work!!!

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  24. I loved your post and didn't find it offensive at all, but the problem with writing about parenting is that everyone wants to do best for their children and if someone gives advice that is the opposite of what they are doing, they can't help but feel like they ate now doing something wrong and get all defensive. I just try not to read blog posts that are constantly giving advice about how to do all the things, because I know I can get easily upset by them. As long as they are written in a way that says "this is what our family does" and NOT "this is the only way to do it" then I love to hear it! Keep on keeping on!

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  25. I know exactly what you mean about the knots in your stomach! It helps me if I step back from something I have written and ask: Am I being honest here? That way even if people respond with vitriol at least I don't have to also go through the whole "I didn't fully say what I mean! I was trying to appease! I didn't think this through!" An authentic representation of myself brings it's own kind of peace :) Even as a non tummy sleeping mom I can appriciate your last post -BC

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  26. Keep on writing what you want to write and people like me will continue to read. I like what you have to say. You're articulate and funny and I like the blog.

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  27. This is a wonderful post. It is one of my problems/hesitations with blogging and "being myself". Parts of myself offend people. It is what it is, and will always be that way because not every one sees eye to eye on every issue. The truth is, while I'm ok with this in theory, it's damn hard in reality to hear people openly criticizing you, putting you down, blaming you for things that aren't your fault, etc. Encouraging the idea that you are responsible for the deaths of babies? Wow, that would REALLY hurt, no matter how much you believe what you were saying.
    There was a protest I was involved in once, for something I really, truly believed in, and ended up finding my photo on an online forum where people were mocking me. They were saying that I had no mind of my own, that I was a total follower who couldn't think for myself, etc. Which makes no sense, really, because I was in the extreme minority and helped organize said protest. But those comments still really, really hurt, even though I knew they were wrong. I knew I had a brain, I knew I wasn't being a follower (it wasn't an easy path to take), and I knew I believed in what I was standing for. But it still hurt. When you described your reaction, I must admit that mine had been very much the same.
    Unfortunately, there's something about the internet that encourages people to interact in a way that would be considered extremely unacceptable in person. I don't know what it is. But I love your blog and love how you've dusted yourself off with grace.
    In the meantime, a little crying in the shower never hurt anyone ;P

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  28. I'm trying to figure out what I want to say about this. I have all kinds of thoughts. So, let me just ramble up some thoughts:

    It's interesting to me that we have come to a place in our society where we cannot disagree with a person and remain tactful and friendly. We parent differently because God made us different people and gave us different kids to parent. OF COURSE I think my parenting methods are better (or at least I pray I'm doing this right...ugh) because it is what I chose. But, does that mean I get the right to angrily tell other people they are wrong. Nope. I hope each mom has the peace of believing that she is doing it right.

    I also find it bizarre that we have lost perspective on context and tone of writing. Oh and purpose. Your last post? I don't let my kids sleep on their tummies bc I am hyper anxiety girl. But, I get it. I get the point of the post. And I get you. And it's all good. Guess what, Blythe? I don't agree with you about something, but I still think you're one cool gal and great momma. And, I wish that is how it always worked for everyone.

    Finally, there is such a huge disparity between what we are willing to say in person and willing to say in the combox. We need to be careful of keyboard courage, but more importantly, I think the world needs to work on disagreeing with people in person, but doing it with grace. It is so easy for me to just nod along with someone when I am sitting down and chatting in person, but in my head, I disagree. What is so wrong with saying, "That's really interesting. I think..."?

    Anyway, this long Sylvia Plath was basically just to share my thoughts and support for you, friend. You're right: as bloggers, we sign up for it. But, just growing thick skin isn't so easy. We put our lives out there, and it's hard to hear meanie-ness about it. So, prayers for you. Keep doing what you're doing. If I disagree, I promise to be nice and start a convo instead of being a big ol' bully about it ;) But, for the record, I'm pretty sure we'd be besties IRL.

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    1. Yes. Yes yes yes yes yessa. Thank you, Jenna.

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  29. AMEN SISTA! **hug and high five to you***

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  30. Haaay queen of offending people here! But also queen of taking too long to understand how to communicate as charitably as you do. Super thumbs up to you, Blythe, for even taking your valuable time to be charitable to your reader people and for having the courage to show some vulnerability. You're a keeper fasho.

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  31. This was great. Keep doing you, little lady :) ~Jenna

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  32. I found your blog through Grace and I've become a dedicated reader because you keep it real. I don't agree with everything you say, that would be tremendously boring. I like where you're coming from because you don't shy away from those things. I really hope that the few naysayers in the crowd who shout the loudest don't drown out the people who are really getting a lot out of your observations.
    I'm in the UK where I think on the whole unmedicated births are more the 'norm' and still there's a huge hoo haa whenever it's discussed Please don't stop!

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  33. Just read the last two blogs. I'm sitting here crying because the thought of you shaking with anxiety over comments just kills me. I couldn't read any more after that. Blythe...you are a wonderful momma. Women need to support one another and remember that being a momma is difficult enough. I love you so much...and you make the vocation of motherhood shine. Ok...enough mamma bear talk. I love you kiddo.

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  34. Dear Blythe, I don't know if you will see this because it's a little late. I just wanted to tell you though that I look up to you. I think you're a wonderful mother and a wonderful person. I'm a new mom, well my daughter is 18 months now but every day and every lesson is still so new. I started reading your blog before soul pancake a while back. I fell in love with your honesty and the way you made me laugh! Parenting can be such a stressful time but I try to handle it with laughter. When my daughter recently picked up some kind of rotten something at the park and put it in her mouth I thought of you and the rotten apple and just laughed out loud while I received scolding looks for not sweeping over immediately and freaking out. Obviously I did remove the rotten something from her mouth but moments like that make me laugh. Of we can't laugh about those things how will we survive the really hard stuff? Anyways 5 months after my daughter was born my husband passed away tragically. I never thought I would be 25 and parenting on my own. ( of course I have help from my family but I'm pretty independent most days. I wanted you to know you inspire me and after I put my daughter down I frequently check your post and I just love hearing from you! This post really made me smile because good for you!! People can be so judgmental, often times I feel it comes from insecurity. Sometimes just so harsh... For what reason? I don't know. I'm happy you're standing your ground and this post is just a great life lesson in general. Thank you for being you. For being a wonderful beautiful soul. For being a great mother. An example I look up to. I have even thought of starting my own blog as just an outlet. Who knows! Maybe I will find some time one of these nights :) I really hope one day to re marry and have 4 more kids! I love being a mother. I really do. :) thank you for always making me smile even on nights when I thought I couldn't. Thank you. Keep on keeping on woman :)

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  35. شركة نقل اثاث بالدمام التفاؤل شركة نقل اثاث بالخبر كما انها افضل شركة نقل اثاث بالجبيل نقل عفش واثاث بالجبيل والخبر والقطيف والدمام
    شركة نقل اثاث بالدمام
    شركة نقل اثاث بالجبيل
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  36. شركة نقل عفش واثاث
    شركة نقل عفش
    اهم شركات كشف تسربات المياه بالدمام كذلك معرض اهم شركة مكافحة حشرات بالدمام والخبر والجبيل والخبر والاحساء والقطيف كذكل شركة تنظيف خزانات بجدة وتنظيف بجدة ومكافحة الحشرات بالخبر وكشف تسربات المياه بالجبيل والقطيف والخبر والدمام
    شركة تنظيف خزانات بجدة
    شركة مكافحة حشرات بالدمام
    شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالدمام

    اهم شركات نقل العفش والاثاث بالدمام والخبر والجبيل اولقطيف والاحساء والرياض وجدة ومكة المدينة المنورة والخرج والطائف وخميس مشيط وبجدة افضل شركة نقل عفش بجدة نعرضها مجموعة الفا لنقل العفش بمكة والخرج والقصيم والطائف وتبوك وخميس مشيط ونجران وجيزان وبريدة والمدينة المنورة وينبع افضل شركات نقل الاثاث بالجبيل والطائف وخميس مشيط وبريدة وعنيزو وابها ونجران المدينة وينبع تبوك والقصيم الخرج حفر الباطن والظهران
    شركة نقل عفش بالرياض
    شركة نقل عفش بالطائف
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    شركة نقل عفش بالظهران

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  37. شركه تنظيف منازل بالمدينه المنوره
    لديه القدرة على العمل فى جميع شتى مجالات التنظيف بالمدينة المنورة لذلك ننل ثقة عملاؤنا بكل مصداقية عاليه حتى نكسب احسن شركة تنظيف بالمدينة المنورة
    تنظيف شقق بالمدينة المنورة تنظيف فلل بالمدينة المنورة تنظيف خزانات بالمدينة المنورة
    شركة تنظيف بالمدينة المنورة
    شركة تنظيف منازل بالمدينة المنورة
    شركة مكافحة حشرات بالمدينة المنورة
    شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالمدينة المنورة
    شركة تنظيف كنب بالمدينة المنورة
    شركة غسيل وتنظيف خزانات بالمدينة المنورة
    شركة نقل عفش بالمدينة المنورة


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  38. خدمات مميزة من مؤسسة السبيعي نقدم اقوى العروض لتصاميم مظلات شد انشائي و مظلات خشبية باقل الاسعار ..
    www.mazallat.com/majalis-Heritage-decor-popular.html

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