When you blog for a niche audience, as I did in the beginning, you come to realize most of your readers are either supportive or trying to help you through by sharing their own experiences. There were some negative comments, but they were few and far between.
When I broadened my reach — as I changed names from Tales of a Disordered Eater to Tales of a (Recovering) Disordered Eater to Tales of a Recovered Disordered Eater and began blogging at WeAretheRealDeal — I knew my readership would change which meant, at times, so too would the commenting style and tone.
Well, my Babble.com daycare webcam piece was picked up by the Huffington Post and there were 90+ comments … not any of which were supportive or encouraging or empathetic, save for maybe two commenters who got the point of the piece: that I was obsessive about the camera when I first got back from maternity leave but now have a healthy relationship with it. The piece details that journey.
In the comments, I was told I’m a “helicopter mom in the making” and that Maya will need therapy later and that I’m wasting my company’s time/money/bandwidth by occasionally popping on the webcam (which, in my mind, is no different than someone watching a 2-min YouTube video, getting a cup of coffee, taking a cigarette break, visiting a colleague, etc). I was criticized for pumping at work. I was told I shouldn’t have children if “someone else would be raising them” Someone even suggested I put my daughter up for adoption. It was implied that I work for money and that I shouldn’t work then and maybe sacrifice material objects. Well, I don’t work for the money. Money is only a small part of why I work. And while I might have looked at the webcam more than is healthy those first few weeks, it tapered off naturally. It didn’t impact my productivity.
The comments were mean, cruel, and without context. I don’t disagree that my productivity those first few weeks back might not have been stellar but not a single person I work with or for made any comments about it and it was my first few weeks back at work after having a baby. It seems many of the readers didn’t even bother to realize that this isn’t a chronic issue; I was sharing my POV of then and now.
Anyway, I share this because if I want to write for a broader audience (and honestly, it came as a surprise to me that HuffPost wanted to pick it up; when my Babble contacts told me I was floored) I will need to get thicker skin. For some reason, parenting and motherhood, in particular, is an open book for criticism and though it absolutely shouldn’t be, it is.