A comment on our site:
"In my opinion, anyone who would refer to children in such a disgusting and disrespectful way (adult or not) is an emotionally bankrupt shell of a person..."
BAM! My first hate mail.
I read a lot of blogs. Any of them worth their salt raise strong emotion and spark debate on their message boards. Sometimes it can get a bit heated, but makes for a nice balance.
We have had comments on our website that strongly disagree with our opinions and we relish them, we value every addition to the conversation. Good stuff all the way around.
But this one hit me like a punch to the gut. My mother-in-law once told me I was too thin-skinned and I was beginning to believe it.
My first thought was, "OMG -- was my message unclear? Did I go overboard with the snarkyness and cloud the overriding theme?"
I don't mind criticism (I say with more bravado than I actually have), but being a bad writer horrifies me. Was my post so bad that it didn't even make sense? Should I delete the post or rewrite it? Tone down the snark?
I fired off an e-mail to an old school chum who grew up to be a college professor. "Is my post as bad as I'm convincing myself it is?" One of those tell me like it is -- I can take it e-mails. I knew he would do just that, which further panicked me as I hit the SEND button.
I waited -- obsessively reading and rereading the post and the response -- unable to see either objectively.
As luck would have it, Grown Up Professor was online and got back to me quickly. He assured me that my point was indeed clear. Whew. OK. Better. He went on to say he didn't think my post was mean spirited at all.
Wait. What? My thin-skinned brain went back to reeling. Grown Up Professor may not have thought it mean spirited, but do others (aside from the hate mailer)?
Snarky as we can be, our site's focus is to cheer people on, to help folks overcome the sadness that comes when the kids leave the nest - and we use humor to do this. Our writing is meant to empower people, not ruin their day. Damn.
I called my sister-in-law. She'd hand it to me straight; we have always had one of those exceptional relationships that transcends our differences. We frequently debate all of those untouchable subjects -- politics, religion, music -- with vigor and calm. We also respect each other immensely as parents. As the mother of my beautiful and inspirational special needs niece, she is truly my hero. She is devout, feminine and, unlike me, never cusses.
In other words, if my post were offensive, it was going to offend her. Not something I was eager to do.
Listening to her giggle as she read the post while I sweated it out on the other end of the line was music to my ears. She assured me that it was fine. Again, WHEW!
My son, The Boy, called soon after to actually congratulate me.
"Hey Mom," says The Boy, "You got your first hate mail - you've made it!"
As I hung up the phone I began to wonder if my mother-in-law was indeed correct (as she often is) about my thin-skinly-ness. After all, she's known me since I was a teenager. All the signs are there - even my kids incessantly tease me about it.
I sometimes wonder if I will ever be able to stand up for myself without the safety net of my family and friends. But I do know this-- the next hate mail won't sting so much.
As my wise Daddy told me (okay, I called him too - just to cry on his shoulder), "If you don't want to be hated on, you can just sit around and do nothing. Even then - that's no guarantee."
Jeez, I really need to grow a pair.
Click here to see the post (complete with the full comment that made my thin skin thinner).
YOUR TURN: What do you think? Am I too thin skinned? Have you had a similar experience? How did you handle it?
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