One of the most terrifying moments of my life was walking into our bedroom the afternoon we came home from the hospital, two days after giving birth to Leta. I was stitched up to my chin, but the physical pain paled in comparison to the shocking realization that I was now The Mother, that there was no longer a nurse to whom I could hand off the baby. It was like I was peering into the heart of a black hole, the magnitude of my life now swallowing me whole.
I would like Leta to read that paragraph and the rest of what I’ve written here to understand that her mother loved her and would die for her, but that just like everyone else I bleed when I am cut. I have fears and insecurities, and I won’t ever have all the answers. I’d like to think that by chronicling my pregnancy and her first year of life she will better understand just who this crazy woman was that gave her a pointy chin. I have done all this for her, yes, but mostly for me, because by writing about how hard a time I’ve had figuring this whole thing out I’ve found a bigger piece of who I am, and I like that piece.
Maintaining this website has been the biggest component in my fight against depression. I finally found a combination of meds that works to help me cope, but even with meds I have my bad days, my really bad moments. The meds just make it so that I don’t collapse in those moments, and my writing, well, it has helped me find the humor in this job. I find so much enjoyment in sitting down to the keyboard and trying to figure out a way to tell a story that my child will one day laugh at. That is honestly how I approach this website.
A few weeks ago one of the wonderful women I have met online went through a malicious and insensitive attack on her character and parenting abilities, an attack carried out online for thousands of people to read and to take part in. The lengths to which this attack was carried out were frankly mind-boggling, but I and a few others told her to hang in there because anyone who has maintained a website read by more than a few dozen people knows just how much one hate-mail can sting. You could receive a thousand glowing emails of praise, but when you get to that single one where someone calls you a bad mother or that you should stop writing because you aren’t funny at all, the human inside you wants to cry. You can’t help it.
I’ve done a pretty bang-up job on my human insides when it comes to withstanding the stings of hate-mail, and by that I mean that a part of me has died inside, has had to die inside, otherwise I would have stopped writing online long ago. I know that hate-mail comes with this hobby, and usually when I get a really bad one I send it to that place inside of me that is dead, The Hate-Mail Graveyard, a book that I will eventually publish containing the hundreds and hundreds if not thousands of hateful email I have received since starting this website. The alternate title will be: And you thought I was crazy.
My other friend who has been writing for years made her website public only a few months ago, and she has recently been receiving a spate of hateful email and comments on her site, and even though I tell her to ignore those people, I feel strangely protective and I want to beat people up. I know that this is a phenomenon, that people feel like they can say anything behind the anonymity of an email address, things they would probably never say to someone in person, mean and judgmental and seriously fucked up things, but sometimes even the dead place inside of me isn’t big enough to hold the hurt.
That’s why I closed comments for a while this morning. I had to catch my breath. I had to take a small step back and remember just why I am doing this, why the hell do I continue to do this when people say horrible things about me on my own website, horrible things about me on other people’s websites, horrible things about my innocent daughter or my husband or anyone that I love. I had a really bad moment this morning, and THANK GOD FOR MEDS.
So I took that breath here’s what I came up with:
1) Leta, this is for you. Here is your first year of life, in writing, with pictures and loving comments from total strangers.
2) To the commenters who flood my daily photo page every day, this is for you. You guys are NUTS, but finally my comments section is worth reading. I’m glad some of you have made friends with each other, I love that you’ll quote Barry Manilow and Kenny Rogers, that you’ll hold entire conversations with each other that no one else can follow. I love that GOD is a regular reader and commenter of this website. There is really never a dull moment in there.
3) Beth, this is for you. I’ve never had a better friend. You give me so much great content. Our kids will still love us, won’t they?
4) Jon, this is for you. I want the world to know how much I love you, how much I will always love you, what a wonderful father you are, what a wonderful lover. Thank you for holding me this morning.
5) Heather B., this is for you. The B. is for Brooke, and all you haters out there CAN SUCK IT.
I feel so much better now.