My Harsh Introduction to the Mommy Wars

February 11, 2016

I experienced something new and horrifying last weekend.

The Huffington Post published an old blog post of mine that was originally published here, titled 10 Things a Postpartum Mom (Actually) Wants. (You can check it out now if you want some background.) The post is in “list” format and is meant to be lighthearted, somewhat dramatic/exaggerated, and sarcastic. Essentially, I posted from my point of view, ten things (that aren’t objects) that a woman would love to have after a baby. The ten things were: baby holding, laundry folding, sibling entertaining, freezer meals, supportive words, disposable dishes, errand running, healthy snacks, babysitting for a date night, and wine. I elaborated on each thing.

What I basically said: Hello people. These are things that saved my life and didn’t cost a dime.Ā 

What I definitely didn’t say: Let’s plan a trip around the world murdering innocent humans.

BUT. If you read the comments you would think I was advocating for babies to smoke meth (or something equally as insane).

We hear about cyber bullying in the news and how “it’s so much worse than the traditional bullying we all dealt with”. But why? I always wondered.

Now I know. Bullies are…bullies. They are everywhere, and they have one goal in mind, to cowardly prey on people who are somewhat defenseless. The internet is a breeding ground for bullies because there are unlimited opportunities to achieve this. They are able to hide behind their devices and attack strangers with words.

Initially, I decided I would “just check” on the comments to see how people were reacting to my article. I expected the supportive ones and even a few disagreements or people who “liked all but ____”. I did NOT expect some of the things I saw. Of course, then, I got obsessed and read a ton more.

Here are a few of the winners (losers):

“This author is ridiculous. What a dumb article written by some wanna-be cutesy mom who actually has no decent advice.”

“Sounds like her husband is a piece of s*** who should get off his a** and help out.”

“Maybe she shouldn’t have kids until she grows up.”

“She’s obviously more worried about getting out of the house and getting drunk than bonding with her poor child.”

“She doesn’t even care about the environment and just keeps having kids and leaving them to this world she is destroying and won’t even be here in 30 years.”

“She should add #11. Condoms.” (You’ll get it in a second.)

and my favorite…

“F*** you Katie Mullis Crenshaw and your bullsh** article.”

Here’s the worst part. Comments are EVERYWHERE. They are on the the actual article and then every form of social media the site has, which included three Facebook pages. Hundreds and hundreds of comments. The most common negative comments were calling me a terrible mother. Why am I a terrible mother? You name it. Because I drink coffee, because I have a glass of wine occasionally, because I prioritize my marriage enough to want an hour with my husband away from my kids every two weeks, because I used paper plates, because I let people hold my baby. I could go on and on. The trolls of the internet literally picked apart my article and used every one of my words against me. They spouted false information about coffee and wine being unsafe for breastfeeding (totally inaccurate), they accused me of hating the earth, they decided that I have a husband who is a deadbeat, they assumed that I didn’t/don’t bond with my baby, and that I don’t care that I am exposing my baby to germs by letting family hold her.

All of these assumptions (and more) were based on my little 800 word, “list style” blog post that was in good humor and came from an honest place. Yet, mean spirited strangers came out in droves to critique my personality, my marriage, my parenting, and my values.

Here is my biggest problem with it.

What about the moms who are like me? Did they read the comments and feel like they were less than? Did they question their choices as a mom? Did they feel guilty for needing help postpartum? If they did, I wouldn’t blame them!

Alas, I have tougher skin than most. After a day or two of processing how it made me feel, I moved on. After all, this was my first experience being published for such a diverse and large audience and it wouldn’t be the last.

But what about my readers?

The Mommy Wars are alive and well on the web. The sanctimonious dialogue is anywhere and everywhere, and I don’t suspect it will end anytime soon. Social media just exacerbates the problem. As much as we wish the shaming would end, it probably won’t. All we can do is work on our own psyche because in the end, that is all we can control.

Here is your call to action mamas:

Believe in yourself. Standby your parenting choices and reassure your self that you are a good mother. The scrutiny from others will never end but the self shaming can. Through exposing myself to public opinion, I realized that the “public” doesn’t know me. They don’t know exactly who I am and how I operate as a human, wife, woman, or mother. They will take little information and use it as an opportunity to cast judgment and spew negativity.

Let them.

Love those babies and embrace your unique journey. If you need that 4:00 glass of wine and to hide from your kids and eat chocolate, you’re awesome. If you use paper plates on days that it’s just too hard to get a dish washed, it’s ok. If you are a superhero who can manage it all flawlessly with zero help and your household is 100% eco-friendly, you’re awesome too (and I’m a little jealous).

I don’t know your whole story and you don’t know mine. We are all different and that’s what makes it so beautiful.

*Edited to add: OVERWHELMINGLY I was supported and praised by other women in the comments. This post is totally about the community of trolls.*

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28 Comments

  • Reply Emily February 11, 2016 at 6:16 pm

    I think you handled this so well. There truly is no escaping people who feel their negative opinions are more beneficial than someone’s lightheaded and heartfelt advice. Thank you for sharing, it’s an encouragement šŸ™‚

  • Reply lifeofaministermom February 11, 2016 at 6:51 pm

    On the one hand I want to be fuming mad at the callous and heartless bullying of these people who think they have the right to try to tear someone down, but then I’m reminded that you will never, ever, EVER please everyone. Being able to overcome the self shaming and being confident in the woman, mother, wife God created you to be is what matters, and in my eyes my friend, you are incredible!

    • Reply twelveandsix February 11, 2016 at 6:57 pm

      Mamas who love and lift each other are what the world needs! Thank you sister! ā¤ļø

  • Reply Hannah {lugimom blog} February 11, 2016 at 10:28 pm

    Oh my goodness. My heart breaks that this happened to you! Internet bullying is probably one of the things that bothers me more than anything else. I cannot for the life of me figure out how people can be so hateful to another human being. Makes me so so so sick to my stomach. I’m glad you know that’s not where your identity is and that another person’s opinion does not have to dictate how you feel about yourself. You just keep on doing you, mama! Because you are pretty awesome!!! šŸ™‚ Thanks for being willing to share you life and heart on this crazy internet šŸ˜‰

    • Reply twelveandsix February 12, 2016 at 7:24 am

      Thank you so much for your support, Hannah!! ā¤ļø

  • Reply Kristin DiCristofano February 11, 2016 at 11:40 pm

    I recently had an experience with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law passive aggressively letting me know that the way I chose to sleep train my six month old was going to cause psychological issues in the future and nutrition deficits now (and let’s just say I took the most gentle approach to sleep training possible, they just thought I shouldn’t sleep train at all). It wasn’t even cyber bullying but man it did it hurt me. Such a good reminder that we can only do the best we can and we will never please everyone. Thank you!

  • Reply Amber February 12, 2016 at 11:21 am

    Oh man. I don’t understand the people who are cruel. I’ve received some mean comments, and I always have to wonder about the person typing them out.

  • Reply Annie February 12, 2016 at 11:45 am

    This makes me so mad! I loved your article and agreed with every single one of your statements! People like that make me sad and it breaks my heart that other moms especially can be this mean! But you handled it wonderfully and I love this post! And you šŸ™‚

  • Reply Jessica @ Little Bits of Joy February 12, 2016 at 12:57 pm

    This makes me really angry… I can’t believe people would attack you like that!!! WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE??? where did these Wars come from?? I 110% agree with you. My marriage is a priority, I am a priority, and even having kids, it will remain that way. With babysitters and date nights… once I had to quickly hand my infant to a lady I didn’t know at all at a baseball game because my 3 year ran away from me up the bleachers and was about to fall and hurt himself. GASP! I GAVE MY BABY TO A STRANGER FOR 1 MINUTE!!! I am a horrible Mom. THE GERMS!!!! lol.
    SO glad I found your blog… you have a new follower and fan!!!!!

    • Reply twelveandsix February 12, 2016 at 1:00 pm

      Yesssss!! Once you’re on the second kid, any stranger will do. Haha!!! Thank you for reading and I’m headed to your blog now!

  • Reply Vanessa V. (@SurvivingMayhem) February 12, 2016 at 2:13 pm

    Stopped by from the Blog & Business Facebook group! I had to read the first post to get the full story!
    So your first post hit me because I agree with everything you said! I’m sorry but I don’t need another stuffed animal or having company come over (unannounced were my favorite!) and making more of a mess.
    And I love this post the most!
    I don’t think the mommy wars will end but the way I see it is you have friends who don’t care how you raise your child and just need someone who can laugh at the mayhem and forget the rest that’s all you need.
    Have a great weekend!

  • Reply Abbie February 18, 2016 at 6:45 pm

    Well said!! I published an article with babble recently (Breastfeeding is Easy and Other Lies) as a positive and inclusive way of looking at the trials and expectations we have as new moms… I had women offering to come to my province to improve my latch. Seriously not the point. Solidarity sister!

  • Reply Millennial Mama February 23, 2016 at 8:16 pm

    Well handled. At the end of it all, I have to say “Yahoo — you were published!!!!” Now that’s something worthy of your time. Not all the negativity that resulted. I tend to fixate on anxieties and I admire your thick skin!

    • Reply twelveandsix February 23, 2016 at 9:57 pm

      There were some tears! I’m just good at bouncing back! šŸ™‚

  • Reply Heather February 25, 2016 at 6:42 pm

    We are at a point now in society where you literally cannot say one thing without offending SOMEONE. Even the most inane comments are offensive in ways you would never even think! It’s so ridiculous to think that someone doing something differently than you is some how a personal attack. I definitely find myself guilty of it from time to time, but to go out of your way to comment on it is just a special kind of crazy! Keep on keeping’ on girl!

  • Reply Kate March 9, 2016 at 3:30 am

    I just read the original post and I 100% AGREE WITH ALL OF IT. Those 10 things are the stuff of life in the first few days/weeks after having a baby. Thank you for sharing that. Now about the unkind words – UGH. So obnoxious, so exhausting, so unnecessary. Keep doing what you’re doing. I just found your blog and am loving your posts so far. The 10 lies about Motherhood is another fave too. Love all of it, and so true. That is all for now šŸ™‚

  • Reply Melissa Terrell April 18, 2016 at 4:34 am

    Such a wonderful post. You handled your situation with grace mama. I’m so glad you didn’t let the negative words from ignorant strangers effect you.
    I once was in your shoes. I blogged a short post defending a couple that was harassed by strangers on FB for starting a Go Fund Me account to raise funds to help with expenses involved with getting pregnant. My post was then published on FB on that same site and I was attacked by many of those same strangers for calling them out for their hateful comments. At first I was taken back by the ugly comments but like you brushed off these people knowing that they did not know me and that they must be miserable drowning in all that hate. These people hide behind their computers and mindlessly write hateful and hurtful things to complete strangers not knowing the impact that they might have on that person. I’m a believer in the old saying “If you can’t say something nice say nothing at all.”
    Thank you for sharing your experience! ā¤ļø

    • Reply katiemcrenshaw April 19, 2016 at 12:34 am

      My sentiments exactly! Thank you for reading!!

  • Reply nadia July 21, 2016 at 10:50 pm

    Owh I have that same criticism when I just want to spend a movie date night w my husband and leave my daughter to the sitter for 3 hours. They even comment in my face that is a “shallow” thing’s to do. Omg I can even &#Ā£Ć—*#Ā£Ć—(@Ā„@. Well they can just suck up their miserable life. I have kid, but it doesn’t mean I have to stop doing what I like.

    • Reply katiemcrenshaw July 22, 2016 at 6:07 pm

      Oh gosh I KNOW! Keep doing you mama!

  • Reply Jen August 8, 2016 at 9:44 am

    WHAT?! I don’t understand what makes people read something, and say “I think I need to detroy her!” Why not just move on? Such hate, what a terrible way to live. Keep on rockin’ and thanks for writing this as a heads up to other mommy bloggers. BTW my face was all type of contorted while reading this, I noticed it once I was done reading and took a moment to process all that hate… HAHA!

    • Reply katiemcrenshaw August 8, 2016 at 12:43 pm

      It’s so insane! Haha!! Thanks for reading!!

  • Reply Sarah August 23, 2016 at 1:44 pm

    You remind me of Elizabeth Bennett in Pride & Prejudice! Laughing at the world but taking time to process it too. Bullies are everywhere; we have the power to choose our reactions to them. I think you’ve handled this with grace.

    Paper plates!!! Why didn’t I think of that? Totally doing that with the next kid. šŸ˜‰ I’m hoping I’ll handle my second kid with a little less anxiety over whether I’m “doing it right”. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m about to hand my kid off to my mother and bust into this wine.

    • Reply katiemcrenshaw August 24, 2016 at 5:18 pm

      Hahahhaa!! Thank you!!

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