I hate that they’re proving me wrong

This week, there’s an excerpt from my book up on Yahoo! Shine’s parenting page. It’s an excerpt from a chapter called “Pretty,” where I talk about the joy I take in dressing up my (then) 1 1/2 year old daughter, and in telling her how pretty she is– but then, of course, in a typically modern mothering way, then worry that I’m doing the wrong thing by doing that. 


I am slightly annoyed that Yahoo! ran the article without putting my NAME anywhere on the page, let alone acknowledging that it’s an excerpt from a book. (Lesson learned: they inherited this content from another site, and no one asked me before this happened. I will hold the reins to what I write much more tightly in the future.)


But in the end, I am quite happy that my name isn’t on there, because at last check, there were 95 comments, most of them to this effect:

You are creating a child nobody will want to be around. Not many kids like a Princess.

or

You need help. Going to church on Easter Sunday in crappy old clothes and unwashed hair because you spent so much time focused on your daughter’s outfit? Really? What is wrong with you? Did becoming a mom suck out every last ounce of self esteem? Get a grip. Your husband is married to you, not your daughter. 

or

This woman needs psychological help. She has no self esteem and it is pathetic how little she cares about her own appearance. She is raising a self centered brat who will be embarrassed by her in the future. 

or

This woman is a good example of why becoming a parent scares and sometimes flat out repels me.

I’ll stop there. You get the drift. There was also some stuff about how my daughter was going to turn out like Paris Hilton, and how my husband was going to leave me because I don’t take care of myself, but after three pages I got sick of looking for it.


I really don’t want to dwell on the trolls. It’s not worth it, and I shouldn’t be feeding them. Since none of them have found their way here, though (again, thanks to Yahoo! posting my work without payment and without attributing it) I’m probably safe.  And hey, if Dooce can monetize the hate, why oh why can’t I? They’re even kind of fun to read, in a totally masochistic way. 


Mostly, I just want to say: ladies, you are making us all look bad. In the last couple of months, when I’ve had a small soapbox to stand on, I have tried to make one thing clear in every interview I’ve done: the mommy wars are bullshit. We don’t stand around judging each other. We’re far too wrapped up in our own neuroses to judge anyone else. Our worst enemies are ourselves.


Now I’m not so sure I was right about that. Certainly the anonymity of the internet seems to bring out the worst in many… but are there really this many mean mommies out there? 

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Scary Mommy June 22, 2010 at 8:48 pm

I cross post some posts on Shine and people are VICIOUS there. It's so over the top that it's amusing. Who are these women?!

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themrs June 22, 2010 at 9:32 pm

i can only be thankful when i read those things that i don't know them in person. at least i can choose to turn my computer OFF. when it comes down to it- we can never win. if we tell them they're princesses- we're raising paris hilton. if we don't- we're not building healthy self esteem. screw em. their kids are probably brats anyway 🙂

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amountainmomma June 22, 2010 at 9:35 pm

It must be sad to be so pent up with hate and judgment. I feel bad for these ladies. You rock Amy!

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Mollie June 22, 2010 at 9:41 pm

Oh, the haters are not necessarily moms. Or even women. Even if they say they are. And, ten different nasty comments could come from just one person. I don't think nasty anonymous comments count as evidence against your positive thinking.

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Jessica June 22, 2010 at 9:59 pm

I loved that chapter in your book and totally related. What mom doesn't honestly find joy in dressing their baby girl up to look adorable and let their own appearance slide. Or maybe that's just us!

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indywriter June 23, 2010 at 1:59 am

I don't really understand the need for public commentary on articles. Blogs are different to me. If you don't want comments on something you can shut them off. And I don't understand the need to flame someone on their own blog. If what you say irritates me that much, why am I such a loser that I can't avoid it? What's wrong with me that I have to seek out something that really makes me feel icky?

Why does every site have to give a microphone to everyone with a keyboard? Why do people need to be able to comment on my local news site? Why are some morons driven by the overwhelming need to post "First!!!!!"? And why must we judge anything that relates to parenting? You likely find as much or more vitriol on your article than you would find on one about a murderer. It's wrong and sad.

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Courtney June 23, 2010 at 2:16 pm

Oh, Amy, that's too bad! I wouldn't beat yourself up over it, though. It's so easy to bash someone on the Internet, when you don't see the person. Most of those people are probably also dressing up their little girls and calling them "pretty", but someone probably convinced them it was "bad", so now they are venting on the internet, so they can feel better about themselves. And, it's not bad to call your child pretty and dress her up! I think our goal should be to raise a balanced, happy, healthy child. There are a lot of bad parents in the world. My husband is a public school teacher in the inner city. A lot of his kids were crack babies, and are neglected, and their parents don't give a crap, and you get crap for calling your child pretty? Let's keep life in persepective people!

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C June 23, 2010 at 5:12 pm

It's so true! Blogs and the online world are a way for us to connect with each other, but it's also a way for the crazies to find us! I have an adoption blog, and boy, you've never met HATEFUL people until you've met anti-adoption people! They know just what to say to make you feel like your life is worth nothing. When you're an intelligent, confident woman who normally doesn't question your self worth so much. All I can say is, I'm sorry they found you too, and do your best to hold up your head and continue being your wonderful self!

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Anonymous June 23, 2010 at 8:26 pm

I am a 43 year old mother of 5 and grandmother of almost 3… the most selfless part of being a mother is when you place your own needs on hold (including your appearance!) because you decide to place your kids first! Hopefully, somewhere along the way, we learn to juggle the needs of our kids with our own needs so no one feels slighted… except the idiots who want to judge the rest of us! As for me, I wanna wear pink lacy socks and have someone else fix my hair ;0)

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Amy Wilson June 24, 2010 at 1:20 pm

thanks, all of you, for being nine reasons it's great to connect with like-minded women on the Internet.

Indywriter, you're right. I'm not sure why every single website has to allow people to comment, and anonymously on top of it. It does not seem to bring out the best in the human race.

C: seriously? There are "anti-adoption" people? That boggles the mind.

Anonymous: grandmother of almost-three at 43? You go girl.

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Laber of Love June 24, 2010 at 1:23 pm

Having just finished your book last night and already given it to a friend to read, I am FIRED UP FOR YOU. I'm not even going to Shine because I know it will just anger me more. Obviously the people reading that excerpt haven't read the whole book because I loved every page of it. When I wasn't laughing out loud, I was nodding my head in agreement. Close that window, Amy, and don't give them a second thought.

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Anonymous June 24, 2010 at 6:14 pm

Amy, you misuse the term "troll." Trolls are people who are trying to get a rise out of an individual for the sport of it. I also don't think you'll find a lot of "trolls" on parenting sites.
The comments on that site seemed pretty earnest to me. Most of the posters seemed to be in agreement that you are shallow, and they gave reasonable arguments as to why this might be. It's not really fair to brush them off as "haters" or "trolls," in my opinion.

Because your essay was taken out of context from your book, they didn't understand that you, as a writer, would be erring on the side of storytelling that is humorous. To be humorous, you're usually going to exaggerate a little bit, either by making something up, or cherry-picking your story elements for comedic effect.

I assume that's what you did in that particular essay, more or less. They don't know that, so they're going to comment on what seems like a shallow woman, too worried about what other's think to have a life, or know who she is.

I think the point of your book was, "don't do that." So again, they're not going to get it, as presented.

To conclude my "troll," don't sweat the small stuff, and comments are almost always small stuff. You're a creator, a talented writer. You're plenty. Besides, who the hell looks like you in their forties for godssake?

Have a mimosa and spend the afternoon enjoying your incredibly good fortune. Self-made good fortune, btw. The number of women in your position are very very few. You worked for it. Enjoy it.

Don't waste time railing at the commenters. Now that you're in your forties, and some of your friends begin dying off, you'll soon realize you don't have the time to give them.

Time is going to start moving for you like you won't believe.

Sincerely,
Trolly McTroll

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Annie D June 24, 2010 at 8:34 pm

C: Anti-adoption people? WTF? But I guess there are anti-childbearing people too. And those people are crazy.

Amy: Obviously the commenters on Shine just don't get it. I find it humorous that so many of them don't even have kids! How can you even know what it is like if you've never gone through it? And I'm sure if you didn't pay any attention to how your daughter looked the same people would be jumping down your throat about neglecting your child. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

And for the record, my dad told be I was beautiful every day, and the result is a confident, proud, happy woman who is content leaving the house in sweatpants and no makeup. There is NOTHING wrong with telling your daughter she is pretty!

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Amy Wilson June 28, 2010 at 7:50 pm

Hi there Trolly- I do think you're right, not all of those commenters are "trolls." Some actually are helpful. Some think they're being helpful. But c'mon, some are just out to be mean. (266 comments and counting.)

I do have to disagree with your assertion that there aren't a lot of trolls on parenting sites. Urban Baby was where I learned the term. And I had to quit it altogether when it just got too mean.

You're right, though, that engaging with meanies/railing against them is a huge waste of time. Especially when, as you say, the very way the material was presented makes it so likely to be misunderstood. Ah well. You take the good, you take the bad, you take 'em both. And there you have: the Internet.

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