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Authenticity: What I Learned from the Smockity Frock Affair

I tend to be fearful of jumping into the fray when controversies such as the one with Smockity arise.  Part of it has to do with my unhealthy desire to please everyone and not make anyone uncomfortable, and the other part has to do with concern that I will write something so ridiculous it will drive everyone away.

So a few months after nearly everyone in the autism blogosphere has weighed in on this painful, and at times divisive, situation, I still find myself still wanting to enter the dialogue.  Perhaps it will seem like I am stirring the ashes of a finally dwindling conflagration, but every month ought to be autism awareness month, so I will press on.

I have some complex thoughts about Smockity because I can totally see myself naively writing something like she did without being aware of the harm it would eventually cause.  Yet I also felt angry toward Smockity because she hurt my feelings by making fun of a small child’s behavior–a child whose behavior sounds eerily like my own child’s.  I do appreciate her apology as well as the flurry of unplanned autism awareness that her gaffe unwittingly caused.

As the mother of a child on the autism spectrum whose behavior can be the subject of much wailing and gnashing, at times I feel earnestly jealous of people who never know what it is like to have others roll their eyes when their physically typical darling throws down in the grocery aisle or accidentally whaps someone in the face during some excited flapping.

Yet let me dig a bit deeper and prove to be even more vulnerable.  I also felt bitterness toward Smockity because she has eight children, creates delectable crock pot dishes, homeschools successfully, makes homemade country gravy and sews, and because she does all these things and still has time to video herself making homemade Pop Up books with her children.


All of this must mean she is a much more organized, talented, hardworking Christian blogger and mother than I will ever hope to be.

She must be successful.  Why, she’s the Proverbs 31 woman!


Here’s where it gets even further complicated between Smockity and me.  A few years ago a writer-friend was doing profiles on various types of mothers and asked to write about me.  The article would be complete with glossy photographs in a magazine fairly well known in my town.  At first I was horrified, but later I thought it might be fun and I would be able to share a portrait of a former public and private school family choosing to homeschool.

My friend described me as a “homeschool mom with a thriving online business and popular blog.”


When I first looked through the flawless pages featuring our family jumping gleefully on a trampoline, Sue with her bow perfectly in place and me with sunglasses perched jauntily atop my head, I felt good.

I looked and sounded like I had my stuff together.

(Ever heard of pride?)

And then I immediately felt sick.  I’m not any of those things, and that magazine piece was not an authentic portrait of any kind of motherhood.

I struggled to homeschool (during the years that I did) and it was rare for me to complete a day’s lessons and still prepare a mildly nutritious dinner meal, much less something homemade.  If selling a few books online every now and then is a “successful” business, then any college student who pawns off old textbooks on Amazon is an online whiz.

Yet women who read that article about me might easily see my apparent “success” and allow themselves to feel potentially inadequate.  Sort of like I could let Smockity’s achievements make me feel today if I let the world’s twisted definition of success dictate my feelings.

After perusing Smockity’s blog, I have to say that I honestly like her.  I don’t think she would tell any of us that she is anywhere close to the perfect Proverbs 31 woman, yet.  She is called to live her life and I am called to live mine.

The blogs I return to day after day are written by unabashedly authentic and at times transparent women reaching out to other people while at the same time sharing their own joy, pain and wisdom.

I have struggled lately to find that balance in my own writing, and to find out why God has called me to write in the first place.  I find it so painful and difficult to write when I am struggling mightily, as I have lately with my son’s behavior.  Yet isn’t that the time I should be reaching out, sharing, being authentic?

I guess I am holding my own feet to the fire and admitting that I’ve become a blogging wimp.

Posted on 2 July '10 by , under Autism Spectrum/Sensory Processing.

18 Comments to “Authenticity: What I Learned from the Smockity Frock Affair”

#1 Posted by Darcy (02.07.10 at 13:15 )

Wow…what a lovely, honest, heart-felt post.

A few things – first, I felt like Smockity’s apology was completely and totally insincere. The way it was worded…ugh…it made me more upset than the original post. So I stayed frustrated with her.

I found myself comparing her to a high school friend of mine who also has 8 children, homeschools them all, is a lovely Christian woman, has one with spina-bifida, and is someone I want to emulate. Truly. And I can tell you this: as full of sin as we all are, I know that this woman would have never, EVER made fun of the behavior of a child.

(Can you tell I’m still a little frosted about the Smockity flap??)

Anyway, I completely hear you about being perceived as something you’re not. I wander through my life feeling like a complete faker. I am not together, not at peace, and I often feel like the worst parent on the planet. I write most when I am struggling – because it helps me get it all out of my head.

I have no point here…just offering support and understanding. I find you very authentic and lovely in your honesty. 🙂

#2 Posted by Patty (02.07.10 at 14:50 )

If there is one thing I would NEVER, EVER call you, it would be a wimp. One of the many reasons I love your blog is because you seem so sincere and honest and authentic. Though I have often wished I could be as creative with my kids as you are, you are quick to point out that you have imperfections.

I think society’s expectations make it very difficult for women to be authentic and not embarrassed. I constantly second guess myself and feel like I have to embellish or excuse what I am doing by staying home with the kids. I feel like I should surely be getting more done, more amazing projects with the kids, etc.

I am glad to know I am not the only one who feels this way. Thank you for your honesty! It reminds me why I want to quit trying to impress others and just be myself.
.-= Patty´s last blog ..take me out to the ball game =-.

#3 Posted by Mary (02.07.10 at 16:14 )

Wow… I have followed your blog for a while now but do not have a child with autism. My son has Down syndrome and so we deal with very different issues and struggles. And while I haven’t read the intial posts that causes all the issues I can say WOW I love your post. I totaly and completely agree that it is the honestly in a blog that draws me in. So for what it is worth thank you for your honesty it is beautiful!
.-= Mary´s last blog ..So what color should I paint my living room =-.

#4 Posted by Jen (02.07.10 at 17:04 )

I remember hearing about that blog post of SF’s and deliberately ignoring it at the time because I knew it would upset me. We were much earlier in our diagnosis at the time and I was fragile.

I had only heard about it but today was the first time I read it. I feel stronger now and while I did find it upsetting I also found it educational. This is what we face in dealing with other people and if that is the worst of it then forewarned is forearmed.

That said, I am quite hurt by it at the same time. So, mixed feelings.

The reason I read the blogs that I do, yours included, is that you (and other blogs I love) are honest about things and this means none of us feel isolated.

No wimps around here 😀

.-= Jen´s last blog ..Shag Bands and other scary childrens games- =-.

#5 Posted by Ashley (02.07.10 at 20:25 )

I just love you heart and I miss you so gosh darn much! This post reminded me all the wonderful things about you. HUGS HUGS HUGS! By the way – 100 degree index here, backyard is full of ticks, children have been grounded numerous time this summer . . . pool is greenish, g likes to drink it, . . . wish yall were here.
Lets catch up this weekend.

PS I am a blogging whimp!!! Cannot even write a post.

#6 Posted by kim (03.07.10 at 01:22 )

You are definitely not a wimp
One of the best things about blogging is being real
learning from one another and putting down the mask
There is so much we can learn from one another and you are one of the most patient, creative, and informed moms I know 🙂
We are all hard on ourselves
None of us are perfect – despite the picture that has been painted for us or from us
Miss you much!!!
.-= kim´s last blog ..Shred day 20 =-.

#7 Posted by goodfountain (03.07.10 at 08:18 )

I can understand a lot of what you wrote here. I will often add a new-to-me blog to my reader and then eventually delete it because the person is not sincere and they are only painting the best parts of their life. Who wants to read that?

I think you are a very genuine person and it shows in your blog, which has kept me reading (despite your long disappearance!! 🙂 ).
.-= goodfountain´s last blog ..A post not about swimming =-.

#8 Posted by Tonggu Momma (03.07.10 at 09:02 )

I find myself really identifying with this post because I read so many blogs about Serious Adoption Topics, yet I mostly write fluff. Because I have an opinion about these topics, but I don’t often share that opinion. I’m thinking I feel very similar to you…

AM I authentic? I try to be. I definitely don’t try to present a perfect picture of my life, but – at the same time – I try to hold some things back (about my daughter specifically) in order to better protect her privacy.

This is the first time I had read the post and subsequent comments. I guess, for me, the post itself wasn’t what upset me the most, but her response to the comments. I know that words often come quickly when we feel defensive, but…

I guess my first thought is that she missed an opportunity to teach her children a powerful, powerful lesson… which is that ceding our personal rights is a gracious thing to do, and a powerful example of Christ. Did her girls have the right to be on that computer? Absolutely! It was their turn! But what an example of compassion and humility if they had walked away when they had the perfect right to be where they were, all to make one little girl’s (and! her! grandma’s!) day easier.

I try to grab those opportunities with my daughter, but of course I sometimes fail to. My daughter is so sure of herself, so much her own person – even at age six – that it is never a worry of mine that she learn to stand up for herself. But being aware of others? And learning to sometimes step aside, even when she is right and they are wrong? Well, that’s a lesson I hope to both model and guide her through.

Because it’s what Christ would want from us.
.-= Tonggu Momma´s last blog ..Hazy Days of Summer =-.

#9 Posted by Tari (03.07.10 at 13:56 )

We need your voice, and you are most certainly not a wimp. I would rather a thousand times over read someone who is honest and make me laugh, LIKE YOU, than read someone who presents herself like a Christian Town & Country profile. (I’m not saying that the Smockity person does that necessarily – I’m just sayin’: that’s not the kind of blog I bother to read).
.-= Tari´s last blog ..Happy Campers =-.

#10 Posted by Tari (03.07.10 at 13:56 )

We need your voice, and you are most certainly not a wimp. I would rather a thousand times over read someone who is honest and make me laugh, LIKE YOU, than read someone who presents herself like a Christian Town & Country profile. (I’m not saying that the Smockity person does that necessarily – I’m just sayin’: that’s not the kind of blog I bother to read).
.-= Tari´s last blog ..Happy Campers =-.

#11 Posted by Trish @ Autism Interrupted (03.07.10 at 23:08 )

Thanks for sharing all of this. I am also very hesitant to jump into the fray most times, for a few reasons which do include some of the same fears and emotions as you described.

The verses that I thought of the most during the whole thing were, “Judge not, lest ye be judged” and the one about looking at the plan in your own eye before the speck in another person’s.

It is a good reminder that only God knows the heart and that we don’t know the whole story just from observing someone’s behavior.

A friend of mine has a quote from Plato on her email signature that says, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Again, we never know what all that person is dealing with.

Just some random thoughts on the topic. Sorry I don’t have a concise point, but wanted to let you know I appreciated your post very much.
.-= Trish @ Autism Interrupted´s last blog ..Saturday Ramblings =-.

#12 Posted by Coreen Trost (05.07.10 at 14:53 )

Wonderul and honest post! I can relate to this and your feelings very much!! It’s hard to find the ‘balance’, but I think you do a Great job!!

I started writing because I felt God wanted me to share my stories to help other people too. Even if that was only letting them know that they were not alone in their situations.

I struggle with how mush to write and how much to ‘b’ at times. I know I am FAR from perfect (we all are) and I am well aware of how small towns, like the one I live in, not only knows that I’m not perfect, but many I’m sure, many talk about that fact too here.

In my opinion, my blog portrays me as the person I am striving to be and working toward becoming. We can say that ‘most’ of the time we are positive, happy, half-full kind of people. I can think of a lot of people who can’t honestly say that even.

So don’t be so hard on your self. You’re a great mother, woman and Friend! Very authentic and kind!!
That’s just some of the things we love about you, Elizabeth!
.-= Coreen Trost´s last blog ..What I am to beby Mark Ford =-.

#13 Posted by Elizabeth (05.07.10 at 15:38 )

I can’t thank all of you enough for your encouragement. I don’t know how I could have made it through this trying move and all its struggles without each of you, seriously!

I’ve almost been here a year and still haven’t made a single true friend. How comforting to know how many authentic friends I have in you all.

Thank you, and blessings to you all.

#14 Posted by Kwombles (05.07.10 at 23:34 )


Just found your blog through Coreen’s tweet. I’ve added you to the Autism Blogs Directory that Kathleen and I created. I hope you’ll give it a look, suggest any blogs we might not have happened on. 🙂

Thank you for adding such a deeply thoughtful post on the Smockity affair.
.-= Kwombles´s last blog ..Adding to the Community =-.

#15 Posted by Tess (06.07.10 at 10:26 )

You don’t sound like a wimp. Nobody’s perfect!

#16 Posted by danette (07.07.10 at 09:11 )

You are so not a wimp!! I love reading your blog and the humor you find in things is heartening, I find your posts to be very honest and genuine. I know none of us are perfect, and I’m pretty sure none of us probably shares every little thing that happens or that we’re feeling. I know I try to find a good balance between opening up and sharing, and protecting my family’s privacy (as Tonggu Momma mentioned). ((hugs))
.-= danette´s last blog ..SOOC Saturday- Mystery man =-.

#17 Posted by the domestic fringe (08.07.10 at 00:42 )

I’ve never heard of ‘Smockity,’ but it’s amazing how our blogs can make us look so good. I mean I usually don’t write an entire post about how I set the toaster oven on fire, screamed at my daughter, and kicked the dog, but I have done all of those things. Unfortunately. I guess my point is that we are all human and say and do stupid things. I think you’re right when you said, “I don’t think she would tell any of us that she is anywhere close to the perfect Proverbs 31 woman, yet.” I think if given the chance, we would all admit how far short we fall from being perfect.


I like your blog. Be yourself and spill your guts every once in a while. It’s good for the soul. 😉

#18 Posted by Carla (10.07.10 at 00:18 )

I LOVE your blog, and because of your blog, I found people like myself going through the same things who could help me in this journey. 🙂

I’m still just treading water though, not really going anywhere.
.-= Carla´s last blog .. =-.