A few months ago I hit the blogging jackpot when I wrote a post that went viral. If you are like every other person in the world who I’ve discussed this with, your eyes went a little glassy just now. The conversation usually goes something like, “Hey! How’s it going with the old blog?”
“Great! I had a post go viral a while back!”
Then… the curtains come down. At that point most people change the subject because they have no idea what I’m talking about. A few will have the courage to ask what that means, praying I can sum it up in fifteen seconds or less because really no one cares.
I could give them the short answer: I had lots and lots of people visit my blog.
Or I could give them the long answer: It fundamentally changed who I am as a person.
So I tell them to get comfortable because this is gonna take a while. They glance around for an escape. There is none. I put their head in my lap and stroke their hair as I begin the story.
Prior to my blog post going viral the only people who read or bothered to leave a comment were my sister and a man named Shirley.
I’ve always thought of writing a blog as trying to start a fire with two sticks. For five years I spent countless hours whittling and whittling and whittling. Every few months I might see some smoke. Once or twice I’ve seen a spark.
Then, out of nowhere, last January I got a flame. As I stepped back to warm my hands somebody ran in and threw a gas can on it. I looked up and the tree above me was on fire, quickly spreading to adjoining branches until the whole forest was in an out of control blaze. I got scared and threw a half of a glass of water on it. Fully illuminated, I suddenly realized everyone was looking at me. And I was naked. And in desperate need of a bikini wax.
In less than 24 hours my viral post had been ‘liked’ on Facebook over 30,000 times, I had 250,000 page views and counting. A few days later, just as things started to die down, it was syndicated by a website that has over 750K Facebook fans. Somehow, the scorched Earth and foliage re-ignited and became an even bigger out-of-control blaze than before.
I had finally achieved what every blogger prays for. Attention. And total devastation.
For the most part, people enjoyed the post and left positive feedback.
This was perfection. I can completely relate to the mom stuff, so funny and so TRUE. I’ve decided that I love you and you are now my best friend. That’s not weird at all. Pretty-please send me some of your beard hairs and maybe some finger nail clippings. (< okay, so that part was a little weird)
This is OUT OF THIS FREAKING WORLD. I was laughing my ass off at certain points of this. It’s so spot on. I love everything about it. You’re amazing and hilarious. I think having a great sense of humor about mothering and being a stay-at-home mom is such a gift. Your girls wills be better for it and you will be such a source for them to tap into if they choose the same career path. This is the best thing I have read in a long time. I can’t imagine how hard I would laughed if I actually heard these words coming out of your mouth.
Some people did not enjoy the post, and did not hesitate to voice their opinions, both on my blog and on a slew of message boards where it had been shared.
“I want to knock her in her medicated nose!”
“… I understand it’s meant to sound funny, but it sounds like you have no idea how to discipline your children or communicate with your husband. Maybe staying at home, you’ll have time to work on these areas before your kids grow up to be selfish ungrateful entitled adults and your husband leaves you for your bad attitude and alcohol addiction.”
Trust her. With 8,448 posts on Pandace Pro Boards and a bottle of Stoli Vanil as her profile pic, she is the undisputed expert.
And, finally, just one of the many, many, MANY stay-at-home moms who swore they had no idea what I was talking about…
“… I love every second of being home with (my daughter) and neither (my husband) or I experience anything near the frustration and resentment the author is joking about.”
-Pigtailsandpenafores, thebump.com message board
I was actually sort of curious about what my little friend Pigtailsandpenafores was up to these days, and decided to look her back up on The Bump message boards to email her for some advice on how one might go about loving every second of anything. I mean, burritos are my most favorite thing in the whole world, but even as I’m eating one there’s at least one second I don’t love it. Like, I might start to feel full or maybe there’s not the proper mix of sour cream and beans in my mouth. I found her and saw her most recent post from August 1:
“I totally used the TV to entertain (my daughter) today. She has been sick for two days and won’t let me put her down. Any time I try to set her down, she starts wailing ‘mama’ over and over in her sad little sick voice, with tears and snot running everywhere. Needless to say, after two days and nights of having her permanently attached to me, I really needed to do some dishes and make some food. Cartoons miraculously kept her happy, so I set her in front of the TV so that I could get a few things done.”
Well, crappers, girl! I really had some hope there but now I just feel silly about burdening you with my silly little question.
You would think by this time in my life I would be used to judgment. I drive a mini van, for crying out loud.
At first, I told myself that anyone who didn’t get my humor didn’t matter; I shouldn’t care what they think. But strangers were breathing life into thoughts I had been trying to suffocate for 38 years. I’m a bad writer. Not smart. Not funny. Not a good Mom. Don’t appreciate my blessings. Alcoholic. Blah blah blah.
I was actually impressed by the lengths people went to make sure I felt like crap. One woman posted over 10 comments about how much I suck using different names and email addresses. I was about to jump off my roof until I noticed the IP addresses were all the same.
Between us girls, the truth is that none of the negative comments really surprised me. I do a really really good job of tearing myself to pieces in my own head. Not one thing that was written was something that I haven’t already thought to myself. Except the one that wanted to punch me in the face. I’ve never really wanted to punch myself in the face. But everything else.
“Why would anyone put themselves out there?” I asked myself. Why did I ever make myself a willing target of criticism? Not just normal criticism, but criticizing what I hold most precious. My parenting ability, my kids, my husband, my chardonnay. The ding on my phone alerting me that I had another comment was synonymous with my stomach digesting a Chinese throwing star.
So as a well-seasoned professional, and responsible 37-year-old Mother of three, my knee jerk reaction was completely strategic and rational – burn everything and head for the hills. It would have been easy since I have spent my life running away and hiding from things I’m scared of. Snakes, mostly, but lots of other things.
Then I thought about what the world would look like if everyone cut and run at the first sign of criticism. Abraham Lincoln was one of the greatest people to ever live, and he had tons of people who hated him. Did that stop him? Well, technically yes. But not before he did many things that took a lot of courage.
I grounded myself from the internet for 24 hours and conjured up the same pep talk my Mom had with me when I was 17 and she totally botched my Ogilvy home perm. Hold your head high and pretend like it doesn’t bother you. They only make fun of you because they’re jealous of your natural beauty. Here – rub this burn salve through your hair – the top layer of your scalp is starting to blister.
I read countless motivational passages:
Nothing ventured nothing gained!
Oh yes, the past can hurt. But you can either run from it or learn from it.
Thou shall not kill
Life is littered with opportunities to be brave. Some we choose and some choose us. Locker rooms. Walking up to a podium in a room filled with people. Nurses wheeling you back for a DNC. Hitting the publish button.
Putting yourself out there, signing your name and slapping on a head shot took balls before, but now I knew it would take extra large scary swollen hairy balls knowing how quickly and easily it was to find yourself in the middle of a shit storm.
But after the bravery comes strength.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that there are two kinds of people in the world: the safe and boring, and the selfish ungrateful entitled adults whose husband leaves them for their bad attitude and alcohol addiction.
Taste the rainbow.