Before and After

beforeandafter

For the first few months of my writing on here, I didn’t even publish most of my posts. I just did it as a creative outlet and emotional release. Once I started sharing them with friends and family, I realized it was fun having a space where I could put thoughts and activities that were a little more in-depth than the average Facebook status could handle.

This last viral post kind of threw me for a loop, and the reactions of readers got me thinking.

The most obvious thing that struck me was this: I was careful, before sharing my opinions, to clarify that what I was about to say did not include the things that DO obviously add expense to our lives as parents. I specifically named medical bills, dental care, and school. (I did leave out teenager food intake. Some of the veteran moms pointed that one out to me. If our kids are anything like my brothers were as teens, I guess we’d better start saving now! haha) And yet, literally almost every argumentative comment was based on one of those three things. I suppose in a way that should be extremely reassuring to me, since my husband and I know our personal expenses and finances better than anyone out there in internet world. bwahaha

But on the other hand, I will admit I initially found it annoying and then just flat out disappointing. Were there really that many people who didn’t bother to read before deciding I was a naive, ignorant, YOUNG (oh, the horror!) mother?

I mean, I love reading blogs. I mostly just look at ones that pertain to my own life or interests, but every now and then, I’ll end up reading an article that I think is pretty much awful. To be honest, I tend not to comment negatively on articles. I am a firm believer, whether in child care or adult interactions, in commending the good instead of yelling about the bad. Ha. That said, I’m all for having a discussion between two people who disagree. I think those discussions can, in fact, be some of the most interesting and eye-opening.

The thing is, when the majority of negative comments are either based on a misunderstanding of what I was careful to clarify, or a tantrum-like query as to why I don’t write about being impoverished in a third-world country (!!)… well, neither is very constructive. I have 3 kids ages 4/under. I get plenty of tantrums here at home. πŸ˜› On an adult blog? #aintnobodygottimefordat

The main thing that is definitely outside my norm is the kind of things people are comfortable saying from behind their personal screen. I mean – oh, my goodness! haha You guys –Β  I’m from New York, I’m mostly Irish, and words are my best friend. I have no problem saying things that need to be said. And yet some of the comments coming in still managed to shock me a little with their utter lack of manners and human decency. I’m sure you veteran bloggers are very used to that. I know on some of the most light-hearted home decor blogs I follow, where the deepest topic is whether to use stripes or floral prints, some of the comments still get a little crazy! Maybe it’s the internet. Maybe it’s just that too many people are angry and hurting, and behind a screen is a safe place to let it all stream out. Either way – definitely a new experience over here. Remind me to put on my suit of armor next time I write a somewhat meaningful blog post! πŸ˜‰

All of that aside, it was obvious that the majority of people understood my point. It was both encouraging and heartwarming to realize how many like-minded parents there are out there, and I absolutely loved reading all your personal stories and experiences that you chose to share! <3

This was a pretty random post, I know, but it just seemed too weird to get back into my regular posting when every time I got on here, this was on my mind.

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46 Comments

  1. I found your blog through a friend sharing your Kids Aren’t Expensive post which I will get back to and comment on but this one reached right out and grabbed my wrists. I was typing before I knew it. I’ve been blogging over 10 years. I’ve switched platforms. I’ve lost my voice – a three year stint as an elected school board member in NYS that had me double guessing what was confidential or not to be shared and what was okay – and I’ve found it again. All that said, let me tell you the last two weeks have brought two shocks to my system. My aunts in California read my blog all the time. I don’t think they miss a post. I took a position as faith formation coordinator at my church. The secretary of the parish council published my entire email signature (my blog URL, my LinkedIn profile URL, my Twitter profile URL) in the minutes. It happens. We embrace those unexpected words of a different point of view (wisdom in some cases). Blog on! Don’t worry about who reads unless that person is important to you.

  2. You’re awesome! You wrote an amazing piece based on your values and your life, and if people want to hate on that, well, like you said, #aintnobodygottimefordat I do have teen boys, and I read your post and thought, “She gets it.” I didn’t think that you had missed the expense of college or food. Like you, we aren’t planning to give our boys a free ride, but they can live at home if they stay local, and we’ll continue to feed and house them, and we’ll help with books, but they can earn gas money and spending money and some of the tuition. If they want a private university education, or to go to school far away, well, they had better be prepared to shoulder the costs of that with scholarships, work, and loans. (I hate college loans and hope we’ve drilled it into them that they need to look at other options.) But the food? It isn’t expensive! They don’t need packaged snacks or fast food. They eat a lot of fruit, and rice, and beans. They can demolish a 2# loaf of homemade wheat bread between them in a day. They want 3 baked potatoes each, every time. These foods aren’t expensive. Toast and oatmeal and smoothies don’t cost as much as boxed cereal. Everything is a choice, and haters are going to hate your choices because they believe differently than you do. Let them hate, because it has nothing to do with you. We do participate in an expensive sport, but it is a choice and not a need, so it doesn’t make my children expensive. Stuff is expensive, children are love πŸ™‚

  3. Thumbs up. Just keep believing in what you believe. Others don’t matter. We carve our own paths. Our lives, not theirs. First time I commented on a blog. πŸ˜‰ thanks for sharing.

  4. I loved your original “kids aren’t expensive” blog entry. I cannot believe how many people responded as if you wrote something titled “kids don’t cost any money at all – you can raise them on love and air” or “so you don’t have a dime to your name, go ahead and pop out kids anyway.” Are people so determined to justify their greed that it inhibits their basic reading comprehension? Yikes! Way to go, mama, for raising kids that can keep their feet on the ground whilst reaching the stars. They’ll be individuals among their vapid, materialistic peers – but they’ll be happy.

    1. Haha That’s why I eventually just turned off the comments. 80% of the “negative” feedback was from people who completely ignored what I wrote and decided to yell at me anyway. πŸ˜› Thanks for reading and for your comment! xoxo

  5. I usually don’t comment on blogs but I felt bad that you got negative responses. I read these last three posts and the first one really inspired me. I do not have children yet but my husband and I just started ttc. I absolutely love the optimistic/loving undertone that you maintain through out your posts. Whether your exact situation pertains to me or not I think you have very good points and I hope to be able to bring some of that love into my family.

  6. I don’t know if you’ll see this late of a comment, but I have to say thank you! I was just catching up on one of my favorite blogs (Two peas and their pod) and she linked to your “kids aren’t expensive” post a couple of weeks ago. Well, I just read it and it was EXACTLY what I needed.

    I only have one son, 15 months, and I was told last week by a “friend” that I shouldn’t have any more because I’ve let this one take over my life. Silly me, I thought that was kinda the point. Anyways, thanks for the encouragement.

  7. Hello Anna, I am 79 years old and live in New Zealand. My granddaughter shared your post with me saying that she loved it! She has just had her first baby (my 7th great-grandchild). I agree with what you say. We had five children, lived frugally and managed to give them a private school education and those that wanted to go to University went and we still managed to build our own hom (in South Africa as we only moved to New Zealand in 2000!). All children really need is lots of love and support, also dicipline which is lacking sometimes these days. They need to be taught respect and compassion for others. I am so proud of and love all my children and their offspring. Life is great, sadly my love/husband died in 2003 but I have all these wonderful children of mine to keep life interesting and happy.
    Keep going the way you are and I am sure your children will be very happy – especially if they know that they have to fend for themselves too – they will come up trumps!
    God bless you and your family.
    Anne

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story! It is incredibly heartwarming to hear from so many parents and grandparents who have done what we are trying to do, and made it work so beautifully! I’m sure your husband is watching over you and your family, and is loving you and proud of you still! God bless you, too! xoxo

  8. Hi Anna! Wow I just love love your blog! I can’t stop reading your posts! It’s midnight and I’m laying in bed reading them when I should be taking advantage of my time to sleep. So many of the things you’ve written about I’ve felt or thought. Its nice to be able to read it. Thank you.

    1. Thank you so much! Always nice to get that reminder that none of us is alone on this wild womanhood/motherhood ride! πŸ˜‰ And I totally do the same thing at night… sleep, or unwind online? Decisions, decisions. Haha Thanks for stopping by! Xo

  9. I know you mentioned medical expenses. I just think that when you’re saying “kids aren’t expensive” you also sound like you’re outright planning that nothing will go wrong. That’s kind of like not having any insurance. You can plan on your house being there forever and paying it off. Then there’s a fire, or a tree falls on the house, or any of a bunch of other things happens, and your plan all of a sudden has failed you. If you don’t plan for the contingency that there *might* be something that goes wrong by buying insurance, you’re potentially setting yourself up for a really bad situation.

    “Having another kid isn’t expensive” works the same way. I’ve seen so many people take that attitude and then have the baby come ten weeks early and spend a fair amount of time in intensive care, or find out that their kid has some really expensive health condition, etc, etc. Then said people end up deep in debt because “kids aren’t expensive.”

    I do agree with you that a lot of what our kids need from us is compassion, security, and respect. However, that doesn’t mean that they won’t end up costing a lot of money. Make your plans and take care of the basics, but you’re going to be better off if you include a good cushion in there. If you end up not needing it, great. If you end up needing it, you’ll be really glad you included it.

    1. This where the whole “my husband and I know our finances better than anyone in Internet world” comes in. Haha I never once said that we were assuming/planning on nothing ever going wrong. For all anyone commenting here knows, we might be totally debt – free with plenty of savings. Or maybe we aren’t. But then, that’s not something one would know from anything I’ve publicly shared on here! πŸ˜‰

      1. Absolutely! And I’m not saying that you personally are not taking care of yourself, I’m saying that as advice “kids are not expensive” is worrisome. Because of this, I will still continue to advise people planning on being parents to set aside that cushion just in case.

  10. I have been writing for 15 years but just now started to blog. I know from some of the nasty comments left on articles that I write that there will be the day that someone nasty will find my blog and just “have” to comment.

    Stay strong! I love reading your blogs even if I don’t always agree with you πŸ˜‰

  11. It shouldn’t matter how many followers you have. This is YOUR blog. You should blog for yourself, not for anyone else. There are plenty of people in this world that will find something negative to say no matter what you write.

  12. My friend sent me a link to your blog and I am really enjoying it.
    I have started a blog as well about 2 months ago but I haven’t really reached the level where anyone is really commenting at all…maybe one day,
    but anyways hopefully I will be able to handle it in a positive way like you have.
    All the best

  13. I, of course, found you through the Kids Aren’t Expensive post, but I did a little back stalking, and I’m also obsessed with your home tour! I just bought my first home this past Friday, and we are already getting started on trying to make it β€œours,” and I’m really inspired by your home decor style! We are working with a small space, and I’d love to see what you’ve done. I’ll be sticking around for sure! πŸ˜‰

  14. I, of course, found you through the Kids Aren’t Expensive post, but I did a little back stalking, and I’m also obsessed with your home tour! I just bought my first home this past Friday, and we are already getting started on trying to make it “ours,” and I’m really inspired by your home decor style! We are working with a small space, and I’d love to see what you’ve done. I’ll be sticking around for sure! πŸ˜‰

    1. Haha Thanks!! Yeah, it took me a little while to find my style, but it’s definitely coming together and we’re having tons of fun in the process! Congrats to you on your new home – so exciting!! Next update post should be up in a few days. Thanks for reading. xoxo

  15. I’m kind of old school in the whole, β€œIf you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” mantra. So shame on the bemoaners and hurray for those who were constructive and/or supportive! By the way, I enjoyed the random post as I am a very random momma. πŸ˜‰

        1. lol The post is meant for the post in response to comments on your other post, which was about kids not being expensive. The identical comment on THAT post is the one that should be deleted XD haha Sorry for the confusion. This site has so many different windows to comment through it’s hard to keep it all straight.

  16. You are not the only blogger I have seen over the last month commenting on this very same thing. I’m not totally sure what’s happening to the human race, but people are becoming so incredibly sensitive. Maybe it’s a world of narcissists that really do believe your life, views, and beliefs somehow have something to do with them. I feel like if you say you love the color red, someone will be so mad that you do, because it happens to be their least favorite color.

    I have two adult daughters and one at home. I loved your two posts about spending time with our children. I felt you were spot on, and I’m old.

    I actually read many blogs with very diverse beliefs, Many I don’t agree with. I like to hear and understand different points of view because when we stop hearing others we might as well fold. It’s over at that point.

    I’ve taught my daughters that when people are nasty or negative, it’s never about you, it’s about them. They are hurt, or broken, or struggling with their own insecurities.

    You’re fabulous and I’ve already told you that. Keep it up, I’ll be here along with all these other fabulous people who just told you the same thing I did.
    oxoxo

    1. It’s really sad, but I think you’re so right!… You are NOT old. Wait, if it’s an insult to be young, does that make it a compliment to be old? Haha Thanks so much… you’re the best. Xoxo

  17. Loved the original post and appreciate your current response to the comments it engendered. First, you and your husband are right on track, doing a terrific job, and there are many of us out there who agree with you and raised our children in a similar fashion, so please keep living, thinking, and writing. Second, in response to your question. No, an awful lot of people do not read what you write. They ignore or gloss over the “caveats” or exceptions that are often mentioned front and center by a writer.

    Having experienced this myself more than a few times HubPages.com/phdast7 (essays on history art, film, etc., like you aren’t busy enough and need something else to read) I have drawn some conclusions about why people respond like that. (a) we live in a contentious, get angry, respond too quick society…people are seldom taught or encouraged to slow down, be thoughtful, give a nuanced reply. Sad, but true. (b) I think a lot of the sharp and negative comments are coming from people who feel “guilty” and frustrated. Not that they would necessarily be able or willing to admit that.

    Not that I think your intention was to judge or produce guilt, but… for parents who have chosen a very different direction for their family, it would be frustrating for someone to hold up a mirror to their choices, which is in a sense what you did in you both lovely and honest essay. So, guilt can lead to an honest reassessment of ones life and a commitment to change or to a desire to push back against whoever or whatever led to the guilt reaction.

    I know you know all this, but I just felt like saying it. I look forward to reading your essays, whatever the topics may be. Blessings!

    Theresa Ast

    mother, history professor, grandmother, poet , Cat whisperer (what my sons call me) πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you so much, Theresa! I appreciate the thoughtful comment. I guess maybe you’re right, although I certainly didn’t think about it that way before. I look forward to more feedback from you in the future! Also – cat whisperer?! That’s awesome. Haha

  18. Anna, I have been writing in some capacity for years and online since 2010. Unfortunately it doesn’t matter the topic you will get negative comments. It kind of sucks actually. I loved your blog post about children not being expensive, in fact I was talking to my husband about it again tonight because we were discussing just how many children we want to have. I don’t know why anyone would find your post offensive or post a negative comment, and I am not just saying that because I agree with you. I read a lot of stuff I disagree with and I try not to comment on something that I find distasteful, it is just easier to keep going and look for something to read that is uplifting. I personally hope you stay strong and continue to write because I think you are amazing.

  19. I commented on your blog the other day in a mildly creepy/stalker way saying your writing made me feel right at home and seemed kinda like me! (and still love reading it and catching up on old things you’ve written too)… anyway, i always say “aint nobody got time for that” – a lot of people look at me like i’m crazy, but every now and then someone gets the reference. so i laughed out loud when i read it on here today! ha!

    1. Hahaha Yesssss, my creepy stalker follower! That’s so funny. It was like all the rage to say it for a while, and then it died our and now I feel like I’m the only one who still uses it. Well, me and you, apparently! Hahaha

  20. I just started following your blog on this recent post you’re talking about.

    1) I don’t get the impression that you’re fishing for compliments, but I just wanted to reinforce what so many others are also probably thinking. You’re great! Thank you for your inspiration and for speaking truth and encouragement.

    2) The internet is a scary place. It’s easy for people to say all sorts of things over social media/behind a screen. I’m with ya – no need to spend time creating negative comments. They serve no purpose.

    3) Keep going. We’ll keep reading!

    That’s all πŸ™‚

  21. Oh, my goodness. You are amazing. Don’t let it all get you down, please. You’re right, it does take quite a bit of toughening to get used to the whole world reading and opining on your blog…but I get the feeling you will learn quickly and will roll with the punches and…keep on speaking truth as you see it. Please don’t be intimidated.

    I’m a mom of nine kids, ages 4 – 22. Naturally, I loved your post, and I agreed with it 100 percent! My husband and I were out on a date tonight, and we talked about how different our lives would be right now (ages 46 and 47) if we had stopped at four kids as we’d planned. We’d be pretty much done raising our kids…we’d have more stuff….but the world would be missing FIVE more fabulous people who could have only entered via our choice. We wouldn’t have missed them for the world…there’s not a thing nor a luxury we would have chosen over them. And yes, it gets hard some times…but it is so worth it.

    Best part? You know who shared your post with me? My 19 year old daughter! And then, my 20 year old son (a junior in college for classical piano) shared your post on his facebook wall! (Incidentally, they work hard to pay their own ways through college…)

    Don’t be stifled or intimidated! πŸ™‚

    1. Ahhhh, thank you so much for this! It was definitely a bizarre several days there, but I don’t plan on stopping any time soon! Love to you and your family. You and your husband sound amazing! Xoxo

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