It’s my blogiversary! One year ago today I started Foggy Mommy with this post. As is the case with many aspects of parenting, it doesn’t seem like it’s been a year. I can’t believe LM has gone from being a one-year-old who couldn’t yet walk to a two-year-old who’s in school. One year ago I hadn’t yet ventured in the genre of parenting writing, and since then I’ve been published in The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Mamalode, Fit Pregnancy and The Washington Post’s On Parenting. I hope that doesn’t sound boastful, but I’m proud of how far I’ve gone!
Some observations on blogging:
- It’s hard to keep up with social media. I admit I probably don’t have time to tweet and Facebook as much as some of my fellow mommy bloggers. It’s just somehow not built into me — maybe I’m too old. Or maybe I just already feel like I’m too distracted from my son (this is something I’m working on as a mom). I can’t be tweeting every detail of my life. Not that there’s anything wrong with that if you can. I just haven’t yet mastered this — maybe that’s why I still need more Twitter followers. If you haven’t already, please follow me! I’ll try to tweet more in the future.
- I love blogging, and I love freelance writing. I love the flexibility to do it whenever and wherever. But, that flexibility often makes me feel that every available minute I have I should be writing, blogging, tweeting about blogging, etc. It’s not like I just stop working when I come home from the office. I write at midnight. I email during playdates. So I wonder if I just need to turn off sometimes.
- That said, I love that I get to be home with LM. Despite the multitasking, I do feel that I’m able to give more personal attention that I would if I worked outside the home and had to commute. I think our lives would be more harried and hurried. I think LM has benefitted from me being available and around most of the time.
- A note on “oversharing”: After a piece in Slate about the profusion of personal essays, the blogosphere has been abuzz. Are we oversharing? Are we going to regret oversharing? I do try to balance what I say and what I reveal with the repercussions: Is anyone going to be pissed that I wrote this? How will LM feel about this when he’s a teenager? So I do take that into account. But in general, I don’t see what’s wrong with talking publicly about the things one has gone through. I wholeheartedly agree with this comment from XOJane editor Emily McCombs (XOJane is on my writer’s bucket list):
I can’t tell you how often I have encountered the attitude that because these stories are about women’s lives, they are somehow superficial, silly, or unimportant. Women’s lives – our stories – are not unimportant. They often reflect the feminist maxim that the personal is political.
…to suggest that adult women aren’t fully capable of deciding when and where to share information about themselves denies them an awful lot of agency.
I write about my own personal life because I want to lessen shame and encourage connection. If people read a piece I wrote and say: ‘This writer has had this experience, done this thing and felt this way so maybe I don’t have to feel ashamed of who I am,’ it’s worth it.
That pretty much sums up why I write. I want to tell the truth about infertility, miscarriage, breastfeeding, parenting after loss, and just parenting in general. All parents are a work in progress, and this blog helps me (and hopefully helps others) become aware of the things we need to work on. People have said I’m brave to share my story. I don’t think of it that way. I don’t know why I should feel like I can’t share. I’m not ashamed of my story. That’s the point — no one should be.
Give me your feedback on Foggy Mommy, or just drop a note to say happy blogiversary! I look forward to hearing from you.
Confession: I just now finished reading all the comments to my Scary Mommy post The 8 Biggest Misconceptions About Infertility. I was pleasantly surprised to find that most of the commenters were supportive of what I wrote. The several commenters who stupidly responded without having read the article – as evidenced by the fact that they actually spouted off the misconceptions from the article in their comment – were called out and chastised by other commenters. I responded to a couple comments myself to clarify a few points I made in the piece.
But what struck me was the multiple responses from people asking what TO say with someone experiencing infertility or miscarriage. I’m not sure if this was because my list crossed off all the platitudes they would otherwise have used, or because they genuinely had no idea. In any case, whenever someone asks me this, while I appreciate their desire not to say the wrong thing, I still wonder why it’s so hard to put themselves in another’s place. What would they want said to them if they were experiencing infertility or miscarriage? Is it really that hard to imagine? To me, the lack of innate understanding of “what to say” just emphasizes the isolation and divide of the infertiles from the fertiles.
But I suppose I should put aside my own bitterness and snark and just answer the question. So here is what to say to someone experiencing infertility and miscarriage:
1. “I’m sorry.”
2. “I’m here for you.”
3. “I’m thinking about you.”
And…that’s about it. Nothing, no words, especially no platitudes, can help ease their pain, so don’t even try. Just let them know that you are there to support them and that you have their back. That you understand if they need to skip your baby shower, or if they need a little distance from you if you’re pregnant. A few other tips:
Call them up or text them, but don’t make them feel pressured to call you back if they don’t answer. They might just need some space.
Don’t avoid the topic. If it’s the first time you’ve seen them in a while, tell them you’ve been thinking about them.
Joking won’t help. If anyone makes jokes, it should be them, not you.
Don’t make yourself the victim – it’s hard to be the friend of someone experiencing these things, but I promise you, it’s infinitely harder to be that person.
Oh wait, I realized I’ve ventured back into the territory of what NOT to do, instead of what TO do.
OK, so what should you do?
There are no magic words to say. Just be there as a friend. Be supportive, be open to listening, let them lean on you figuratively and literally. Bring them food or something they might enjoy, like trashy magazines (just make sure there are no pregnant celebrities in them). It’s simple: Just be a friend.
The most supportive thing anyone ever said to me came from a family member of my husband’s, who I didn’t know well and hadn’t seen in a long time. She was visiting my in-laws and bringing along her baby, who I’d never met. When we got there, there was no big introduction of the child. She just let him play quietly with my nieces. After he’d gone to bed, she pulled me aside and said:
“I heard about what you’re going through. It must be really hard for you to be around all these babies. I just wanted to let you know that we’re thinking about you. Please call if you ever want to talk.”
I remembered that moment for a long time. It gave me a great feeling of support that someone, even someone I didn’t know that well, had such compassion and understanding. It gave me hope that there were people out there who “got it.” That even if they weren’t going through the same thing, they could sympathize. Because of this one person, I felt just a little less isolated and alone.
So that’s it. That’s all there is to say.
Fellow infertiles, would you agree that’s all someone should say to those experiencing infertility and loss? Fertiles, does my advice make sense?