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.