That Time Fear Ruined My Writing and Probably Derailed My Career

My daughter, 13, recently discovered this blog. I’ve been afraid of this moment for a long time. No need to, though. She loves it. She talked to me about how she went back and started reading from the beginning, which started in 2008, when she was 3. She loves the stories and thinks they are funny. I am relieved. I have forgotten much of what I used to write about so I went back and started reading. It broke my heart.

This blog used to be really really funny. It was filled with anecdotes about my life and what my kid (when I started I just had one) was up to. I swore a lot. It was carefree. This blog is not like that anymore. It has become uptight. Family anecdotes are gone. It’s gotten boring. Safe. Why?

When I started this blog, the internet was a baby. Blogging was fun, new, Twitter had just started.  I wrote a lot, I was proud of my voice and my humor, until I got scared. A few things happened in quick succession. First, people started saying to me, ‘Oh! You write that blog. It’s so funny!” out in the real world. It is very easy to forget when you write and post something online that people read it. Weird, but true. Next, a website community that I belong to reported that a reader of a popular mommy blog called CPS on the mom, basically because she couldn’t discern satire from life. Third, the another blogger I love got a stalker and things escalated to the point where she and her family moved into a gated community. Finally, on a personal level, I started to have a hard time navigating what was fair game in terms of my kids’ experiences to write about. I’m protective of them and their identities. For example, I don’t share their names and photos on social media as much as possible.

Was I too paranoid? Maybe. I’m a pretty nervous person. But consider the climate we live in now. People aren’t content to just disagree with you, or move on from a blog they don’t like. They are out for blood. They want you to lose your job. They want you to lose your kids. They want to fuck your shit up and they will. Check out this website, freerangekids. This site is basically nothing but reports of parents, most often moms, who have had the cops or CPS called on them for doing things like letting their kids play outside, or joking about selling their kids on Twitter. I was recently talking to a pretty well-known author ( no, I’m not telling you who, because privacy….) about writing and motherhood and she said “I’m careful about what I say now in a way I never was before, are you?” and we went on to chat briefly about the way mothers are being targeted online, offline, all over.

A couple years ago I posted about not being afraid and not giving shit what people think of me, and how that destroys art. I wish I could say I still believe that. No longer am I, and other artist mothers, simply afraid of what people think of us. We are afraid of what they will do. How can I/ we get over this in a culture that uses the CPS, the police, to bludgeon people who they are doing or saying something they simply don’t agree with? I don’t have an answer. I wish I did. I wish I was braver.

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