It’s a constant battle about whether I am going to keep my newspaper parenting column or not. It’s not that it’s in jeopardy. It’s not. But I question myself over and over whether I really want to keep writing it.
I don’t really know how I feel about this space I have in the newspaper. Every other week, I get to write 800 words about anything I want as long as it pertains to families. When it comes to writing for the paper, that’s freedom. You see columnists in our paper, like Chris Smith, Chris Coursey, and my personal favorite, Susan Swartz, and they get that kind of freedom. I’ve looked up to all of them for years because of it. And while mine isn’t a regular feature of the newspaper, it’s a space that is all mine that I get to write anything in it. Not many people have this privilege. So to give it up, I’d have to be crazy.
But the difference is, they write about other people who want to be interviewed. But my column? Often it is about my own experiences as a parent, and how I have dealt with the normal day-to-day issues with kids. Most of the time, it’s upbeat – like when I got to write about going from a single mom to getting married. And sometimes it’s about an experience we’re grappling with, like when we’re dealing with bad sports in soccer or baseball, learning how to deal as a stepfamily, or when my daughter is leaving to live with her dad.
I reach a lot of people through this column. Some weeks I hear nothing. But other weeks I manage to touch something inside a reader or two, and they send me a note to tell me their own story. This past week, I received a half dozen notes from parents with kids who have moved in with their other parent, or who have gone through it themselves as a kid. They were able to relate to the story I told about DQ moving away. One mom even wanted to start a support group, with my help, for parents going through this. I was warmed by each of these personal letters sent to me, and received it as an affirmation that I am doing the right thing by sharing little pockets of my life.
And that’s what they are – little pockets. In my public column, I do not mention the parts that hurt too much to write. I will not write something that will hurt someone’s feelings if they read it. I keep the dirty laundry airing to a minimum, only speaking about things that are okay to share with the public by all that are involved. In fact, that’s why I moved THIS blog over here, away from the public eye. The blog and columns I write there keep my private life PRIVATE, but allow me to still share the outer details that will hopefully help other parents battling the same issues or experiencing the same triumphs.
But then I receive a comment like this: “Often when reading your column, I cringe a bit over certain details you have included and wonder ‘oh my, wonder what her kids think about this being in the paper?'”
And it’s surrounded by other such accusations about my column and what I am writing – how I slam my ex, mention my messy marriage, and air my dirty laundry in such a public way.
Truth is, he isn’t even being a troll with what he said to me in my comments. He merely gave an opinion that isn’t in line with what I believe. And he doesn’t have all the facts, either, since I (surprisingly) leave so much of my private life off of all my public spaces of the internet.
But still, it hurts.
I could receive a million comments that thank me for what I write, telling me how much they appreciate my openness and how they can relate, and other such niceties that I have received over the years I have written my column. But when I receive a comment like the one I just received today, it makes me question everything I believe, and makes me wonder if it really is time to end the column and just call it a day. It makes me question if I really am sharing too much of my personal life with the public in my column. It even makes me question whether I need to hang this blog up too, to just close the open door policy I’ve held to many of the details of my life and go back to living life privately.
I mean, what is a blog, anyway, but a very public diary?
I probably won’t give any of it up. At least not now. But man, these kind of comments sure do sting a lot. And I obviously have a very fragile ego.