There is a blog I follow which I just love. It is an insight into the business of the dead, which is normally a subject we shy away from. But Caleb Wilde is a third generation mortician, and he loves his work…and there are things he brings up that I would never think about. His writings and perspectives of lives and deaths of lives, and the survivors and the whole business around it, is fascinating.
A few weeks ago he posted a picture of a letter he received at his funeral home. He said, “Most hate mail comes to my email inbox but this anonymous letter was snail mailed to the funeral home.”
The letter read, “I am rather dismayed about your attitude and thoughts about the funeral business. Lots of people do not agree with your approach. Do you have even the slightest idea how offensive your ramblings are? Your obvious disdain for the funeral business is a slap in the face to the Wilde Funeral Home and those who have come before you. While you are entitled to your opinion, must you insult the entire business. I certainly would not want you to have anything to do with my funeral.“
What I thought was interesting was that while I find his insight into the funeral business fascinating, there will naturally be other people who find it disturbing. Even insulting. This is the nature of people. There is always a balance between people who agree with you and people who don’t in any adventure…
I kinda figure that if you haven’t offended someone yet, you probably aren’t saying anything worth saying.
You know what I’m saying?
If everything you have to say is easy platitudes, are you saying it to make a difference…or are you saying it to avoid the harsh reality of criticism?
Case in point: Here are some criticisms I have received.
“The blogging world is very rough.”
“Chances are, no one is going to read your blog besides a few guilty friends and it’ll end up fizzling out.”
“While you may not intend for it to be a ‘SoCal mommyblog’, that’s what it looks like the demographic of your blog wants to be. Mothering/homeschooling, womanhood, and alcoholic drinks.“
“What you also don’t realize is how insulting your concept of “platypus” women is. You have no idea who you’re pandering to, and that was your mistake.”
“We don’t subscribe to your brand of self-involved, pseudo intellectualism wrapped around some bizarre idea of Christian gender roles and motherhood.”
“Don’t let the door hit you on the ass.”
The thing about criticism is that there will always be a grain of truth in there, whether or not you want to believe it. People generally don’t come up with insults out of the blue…there will be some nugget of truth of which they are feeding off.
It is impossible, and I think a little narcissistic, to read criticism and disregard it entirely. However, it is also very unhealthy to take in the whole criticism as truth itself. You have to read it, analyze it, wonder what parts are right and what parts are wrong, and figure out if you can be a better person from this criticism and which parts to chuck out the window.
So, after these (painful) words, I have to wonder: am I a self-absorbed, So-Cal Mommy Blogger with self-involved, pseudo intellectualism wrapped around a bizzare idea of Christian gender roles and motherhood?
Or is this just attacking me on my writing, my intelligence, my religion and my identity as a mother?
I started The Platypus Directive because I do feel like I don’t fit in with other women, and I can’t really put my finger on exactly “why.” I left the world of academic employment in order to raise my children, and I find that SAHMs with degrees are fascinating people. We have this intense, peculiar curiosity for the world, and yet have made the bold decision to leave the positions, which may have given us a higher social status than a SAHM, in order to focus our energies and attentions on our homes. I love exploring this “rediscovery of motherhood,” since it was not what I thought I would do! It’s all new territory to me, which just makes the journey more interesting.
I am secure in my intelligence and I am definitely secure in my religious beliefs. I don’t think mainstream Christianity is exactly “bizarre.”
So, I will take it with a grain of salt that some women who read this blog will see the “Mothering/homeschooling, womanhood, and alcoholic drinks” as meaningless. They might see these topics as uninteresting.
They might even see these topics as demeaning to them as women.
But I think it’s pretty clear they are not my audience.
I have already accepted that if I am going to write, I am going to write sincere, meaningful posts with the intention of friendliness, inspiring and encouraging other women who might feel the same way. They are women who are curious, who are courageous and who are tenacious in life. I see the Platypus Woman as being tender, yet fearless. She is not afraid of having a degree, or of staying home for her family, or living as an independent woman in the middle of suburbia. I love meeting women who have this courageous spirit because they tend to have the most amazing ideas of who they are.
I don’t expect to have a club around this concept, and I don’t expect every woman to identify herself as a Platypus. I figure anyone who enjoys this blog will be doing it for personal reasons that I will never identify for them.
If you are a writer, or a mother, or a parent, or a person…you are putting yourself out there whenever you leave the house, go to work, participate in a group, write a blog. And you will get criticism.
But are you who your critics say you are?
Who are you?
I am a Mother
I am not afraid of critics, and critics don’t define me.
I define myself.