Learning To Edit Myself To Tell My Story Better

March 2014: I sat at my computer feeling deflated. I wanted to cry. I was reading on-line comments to my first piece on The Good Men Project, a popular U.S. blog dedicated to having a conversation about what it means to be a man in the 21st century.

I am obviously not a man. But I wanted to be part of this conversation too. I thought I could offer a fresh perspective. I was happily married to the same man for more than 25 years; the mother of two young adult sons; and had close male colleagues and friends. I was keenly interested in the evolving place of men in our society for the better.

The message I was trying to convey was the need to define the role of the stay-at-home parent. After all, it is too easy for resentments to build when each partner thinks the grass is greener on the other side. The working partner may resent their stay-at-home spouse for getting to play with their kids at Gymboree. The stay-at-home parent may resent their working partner for getting to spend the day with adults who don’t throw fistfuls of macaroni at the wall.

To engage readers in a somewhat dull topic, I started my piece with sarcasm. I poked fun at the fact that financially dependent men (like SAHDs) are more likely to have affairs, not because they feel emasculated and need to “prove” themselves (as some researchers had concluded) but because their working wives are too pissed off to sleep with them. Stats show that SAHDs don’t do nearly as much housework and childcare as SAHMs, and not much more than their working spouses.

The article had almost 4,000 shares and over 50 comments—pretty good traction for a first piece. I was expecting a standing ovation for my humour and insights, not comments like:
This women is a ‘Relationship Strategist’ (whatever that is) and she comes to the table with a ‘men can’t keep it in they’re pants’ attitude? A little biased right from the get go, no?

Have you ever even talked with a stay-at-home parent? Doesn’t seem like you know your subject very well.

I couldn’t even finish the article before having to call bullshit.

In reading the comments, I learned a hard truth. If you want to convince people of anything, don’t be funny at their expense—especially before you earn their trust. But the bigger lesson was that this was not who I wanted to be, someone who threw word bombs at men or women. I wanted to be funny and approachable, the mom next-door who thought deeply about complex relationship issues. My true voice, the one that feels most like me, is when I poke fun at myself, share aspects of my own marriage from which others can decide to derive their own relationship wisdom.

I love what Cheryl Strayed (“Wild”) said: “I write to find out what I have to say. I edit to figure out how to say it right.”

I am learning how to edit myself and become more the person whom I want to be.

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