For Mother’s Day, Neal wrote this sweet little tribute to the miracle of life (and aliens — he’s always gotta work in aliens somehow) along with this comic. We were hoping it would go big on Facebook, and break his previous comic record of around 800 shares. 15,000 shares later, Facebook estimates that somewhere around one million people saw this comic. Wowsa!
But as with all things internet, there were some haters in the bunch. Some people saw it as discriminatory against moms who had c-sections, adoptive moms, stepmoms, same-sex couples, and of course, fathers. If you follow Raised by my Daughter’s Facebook page, you know that one dude in particular was freaking ticked! Multiple f-bombs were thrown! As funny as I found his comment, I won’t reproduce it here; after all, I can’t be sure no animals were harmed in the making of his comment.
Although I told Neal to just ignore it, when I went out for a few hours with Addison he crafted this measured response:
Actually, Brian, I’m a stay-at-home-dad and I’m the one who made this comic. I’m proud of what I do, and I’m proud of my wife, too. I don’t feel like someone has to be the loser when someone else gets appreciation. In my world, “all the awards” is a hyperbolic statement that demonstrates a feeling of awe and respect for moms that is so big it’s hard to even articulate. I guess I’d say that I imagine that there are INFINITE “awards” available for people who do good; it doesn’t need to be a zero-sum game where one person takes away something from someone else. So, many people can deserve an infinite portion of that infinite amount, and no one needs to be the loser in the equation. When my heart is full to the brim with love for someone else, why not express how that feels? It feels like ALL THE AWARDS.
He and Brian went on to have a more mellow conversation about giving Dads credit, too. Peace once again reigned . . . until we found another page that had shared the comic, unleashing a totally different firestorm. This was one of my favorite comments from that page:
Yeah, it’s great parenting to tell your kids they’re an alien parasite. Sounds like the typical liberal mindset. When they were getting probed, that didn’t feel like an alien experience at all.
I’m fairly politically savvy, but I’m still trying to figure out exactly how Neal’s comic represents a “typical liberal mindset.” Since Neal didn’t clue me in on his subversive agenda, maybe you can enlighten me!
But none of that was why I got on here to proclaim my love for Neal. It was actually all about the essay I wrote a couple of weeks ago,“Dang, I look good”: Reflections on body image. It’s a touchy subject, you know, and I don’t consider myself totally adept at handling this particular touchy subject so I wanted to run it by Neal. I am beginning to see, though, that there’s no such thing as “running something by him” after World War III almost ignited over my forgiveness and restorative justice piece. Either he cares A LOT about good writing, or he’s just trying to pay me back for the past 6 years of merciless editing, but he was just shredding my work. And I was getting ticked. Not because I can’t take constructive criticism but because he seemed to be somewhat confused about my fundamental point in the essay. So is it X or Y?, he would ask. It’s both X AND Y — it’s a paradox. (You know I love me some paradoxes.) We must have cycled through that same conversation in various forms about 20 times, all the while me bemoaning dichotomous thinking and accusing him of trying to put me in a box.
Really there’s a whole essay to be written about the process of writing that essay. Neal not quite getting my fundamental point in the essay ultimately translated into confusion about a fundamental thing about me, and that just seemed maddening after being together for 8+ years. Who knew that something that I think of as foundational about me has not quite been clear to the people I’m closest to even after all these years?! But I guess now is as good a time as any to clear that up, and so I revised that essay. I revised the crap out of that essay. I rewrote whole sections. I wanted to get this right.
Is the reason all this prompted a Lindsay loves Neal post still unclear? It’s this: Even while I was rolling my eyes as he told me my parallel structure could be enhanced (Dude, I invented parallel structure.* I was writing in parallel structure before you were born! Don’t talk to me about parallel structure.) or I needed a little more explication in my stream-of-consciousness portions (Seriously? You want the narrator to retrospectively interject into my stream-of-consciousness thoughts. Do you even know what stream-of-consciousness IS?!), my heart is also bursting. Bursting, I tell you! I can’t believe I get to have a writer’s workshop in my own bedroom, with the hottest guy I’ve ever met. And he actually knows what he’s talking about (even though mostly, I’m right). Here we are discussing the trade-offs of various writer’s conundrums, and I’m annoyed as heck, but my writing is getting better, clearer. How did I get SO lucky? Later, while brushing our teeth, we laughed about how amazing it will be to have our little writer’s workshop every day once the kids grow up and leave home. As long as he never questions the Oxford comma, we’ll make it.
So even though I’m not quite done with that essay (before this week is over!), it reminded me all over again: This is the life I wanted. To be challenged about both the fundamental things about me and parallel structure. To debate the conventions of stream-of-consciousness and laugh about stick-figure comics. This is the life I wanted.
* I didn’t invent parallel structure. I wish I did, though; it’s one of my favorite things. Like in the whole world.