As you may or may not know, I write a lot of columns dedicated to being a mother. As a mother of 5 (almost 6) kids, it is what I live, so it is something that comes naturally for me to write about.
I have written about all sorts of experiences and lessons I have learned. In all of my articles, I do my very best to be very sensitive to all mothers and all situations, and I rarely complain. If I ever do, it is in a joking manner. I am really so, so grateful to be able to be a mother.
However, each time I write a column that is even remotely on the complaining side, I get a flood of emails from women who are unable to bear children, telling me that I am ungrateful and that I should never complain about having children. I have even been told that I need to write about infertility; something I am not experienced enough to write about.
I always feel bad when I get emails like this, and second guess what I am doing as a mother. I wonder if I am a bad mom, or if I am not being grateful. Still, as rewarding as it is, being a mom is a difficult job.
Last November, my family had a very difficult thing happen to us. I had a miscarriage. Next to losing my older sister nearly 7 years ago, this was really one of the most difficult things I ever went through.
I wrote about it here. I got overwhelming support from women, and it really helped me to get through it. However, I did have some people who I was close to, who knew that I already had 5 healthy children, say things like, “looks like it’s your turn,” or “welcome to the club.” Those remarks never helped, and really made me feel like there was a “club” and that there was a definite line drawn between fertile women and those who had difficulty.
So, I had the thought that I would write about the flip side of infertility. This was probably my most stressful article yet and one I have read over and over again. I submitted it and got good encouragement from my editor.
Today, however, I felt sick to my stomach. I knew it was set to publish today, and even went as far as to see if I could have it removed before it went on line. Well, it is up, and I am so scared to read the comments.
I want all readers to know that I took careful consideration with it, and meant no offense. My hope was to bring all of us together. I hope I was able to do that.
Here is the article. I welcome any thoughts.
I loved the article and thought you did a great job.
Your article was wonderful. It was full of things that helped me. I always love your articles, and never feel any sense of judgement or criticism.
Thank you. That really means a lot.
Oh my goodness – we are the same person! I agree with EVERYTHING you wrote. My husband and I have 6 beautiful babies and I often ask myself, “Are we done? Have we done enough?” Our oldest is 10 and our youngest is 6 months – so yea, I have my hands full too – oh and my husband just finished grad school – which meant we were out of a job for 2+ years and trying to live off of “love and loans”. My husband and I have quietly talked about the challenges of being so fertile – because yes, it is a challenge. We don’t talk too loud because we know too many people who struggle with the opposite. So glad you could put into words what we have felt for a while. Good job.
Thank you, Julie. I am so glad that you understood the message. It is not about who has it more difficult or not, it is just that we all have challenges.
Good luck with your family! I’m sure it will all work out :).
I would like to leave a constructive comment. I get what you were trying to accomplish. I even appreciated what you had to say even though I personally can’t relate. I have to admit reading the article on ksl I was taken aback. It wasn’t a matter of what you said it really was more of how you did it. When I clicked to read the article I was expecting to hear something else than what was there. What was I expecting? I don’t know but not what I read. I guess I was expecting an article about life after dealing with infertility. I understand you felt compelled to address infertility due to requests. I just think you could have gone about it in different ways. You could have done more of an interview type article or compiled various stories from those who have gone through those struggles. Or you could have stayed way from mentioning it altogether. The article you wrote was fine but your headline drew a number of people that didn’t want to read about the struggles of having too many children. I think for many it just felt a little bit like salt in the wound.
I understand where you are coming from. As far as the title goes, I often don’t have control over what it is. Most of the time, I write the article, and the title is decided on by the editor … which was the case this time.
I am sorry that you read it and felt like it was insensitive to women who struggle with fertility. I took careful consideration when deciding on what to write about, and had many women on both sides of the fertility spectrum who wrote me expressing their understanding and appreciation for the article.
Never in the article did I complain about having children; I merely spoke about some challenges we face. I love each of my children more than words can describe.
I don’t know what else to say other than, I am sorry you felt that way.
You don’t need to apologize to me or apologize for my feelings. I was taken back but not offended. Like I said it wasn’t what you said but more of how it was presented. In this case hopefully, your editor will be a bit more mindful of that going forward. I think the biggest problem was the title and the audience that title drew to read the article. Bad marketing mistake. I never accused you of not loving your kids or complaining about having them. It is good you have support as I’m sure you receive plenty of the opposite that was unfairly harsh. I’m just trying to give you fair constructive feedback for you to consider if you ever decide to revisit this touchy subject. I just believe that the feelings of those who experience infertility should be given special consideration if you are going to market an article to that group. I understand that you did try. It just missed the mark a bit for many. The title and the first few paragraphs of the article made it appear that you were addressing the infertility crowd. So to me its understandable that so many missed your real intention about how we all have struggles when you used the struggles of fertile woman as examples.
PS. I want to reiterate that I got your message and what you were trying to convey and it was good message. I hope you brush off the negative and keep going. I hope you don’t think I’m trying to slam you (I’m not). It is just something that is a bit close to home for me and many around me. I felt that some constructive criticism would be useful as so many missed the point you were trying to make.
Thank you. I really do understand what you mean. I think the title should have been different, too. Sometimes I will contact them to see if they can change it, but in this case, I didn’t know what it was until it came out. I feel really bad that it hurt people.
And I hope I didn’t come off as harsh in my response to you. I got a lot of really great emails, but some that were just really mean and attacking. I try to respond to everyone, and I think my response to you was in the middle of my responses to the negative ones. I might have just been tired and worn out.
Thank you for your criticism. I will see if I can make sure the titles represent what it is I am writing about a little better from now, on … even if I have to hound the editors :).