To Bev — the mom who gave us the peanut butter hack we never knew we needed …
The first time I laughed at you, I felt justified. I wasn’t laughing at YOU per se, I was laughing at all the ridiculous comments people said about you. That makes it better right?
The second time, I shared with friends, and I regaled in reading the most quotable quotes from commenters, especially the one about boiling water, then freezing it, then boiling it all over again because it made her feel smart, even though the implication was that she was being stupid. Or was it that you were being stupid? I’m guessing she meant the later.
The third time I laughed at you, I showed my parents and then felt the tiniest pang in my conscience. For some reason, I saw something in your video I didn’t see before:
A girl trying to make it. Scratch that. I saw a girl being publicly ridiculed as she is trying to make it.
I saw a mom who is juggling both kids and work. A mom who is trying to manage mothering when birthdays are not celebrations, but productions, and a gathering is not worth putting on unless Pintrest was consulted first. I laughed at you for attempting to create the very thing we all are demanding these days: a life of ease and convenience. A new, better way because all the ways of our parents don’t work anymore. I saw you doing the thing that we asked. While I laughed.
I recognized a woman who believed in her passion: maybe making lives a bit easier, connecting with other moms, sharing a bit of herself. I saw vulnerability. Because it takes courage to put yourself out there to millions of viewers. I saw confidence, because you need gumption to make it as far as you have. You don’t get on Food Network unless you’ve worked your butt off first. I saw someone who wasn’t just siting lazy-like on her couch, feet propped up, eating fistfuls of popcorn while binge-watching other people fulfill their dreams.
I saw you get on Food Network and start to fulfill those dreams. It takes guts. It takes grit. And you have that.
And I saw for the first time that while I laughed at you, I may as well have been laughing at a friend I would otherwise have cheered on, told to go-for it, or maybe said, “You are made for this thing!”
Or maybe it turns out I was laughing at someone who turns out to be a lot like me.
Me, another mom trying to navigate the exhausting world of trying to have answers and looking worthy of a photo-shoot the whole time. Me, a believer in connecting with other moms and trying to make this load just a little bit lighter for us all. Me, a woman trying to get a book published and actually live out my dreams and not just partake in the dreams of others.
This last week I watched media outlets pick up the “story,” toss it around in the feeds, all of us demanding from you a cheap laugh, a click-worthy post, a money-generating, audience-gathering exposure. And good people, fun people, people who quote Brene Brown and are foster parents and raise our kids to be decent humans … we ate you up and spit you out, and then scrolled some more for something else to feed our appetite for endless entertainment.
Because life right now feels hard and we all just desperately want something to find humor in. Even if that something turns out to be cheap and wrong.
I wonder at your life now. I wonder at the courage it will take for you to undo your identity as the peanut-butter-hack-you-never-knew-you-needed girl. I wonder how much bravery it will take when you step in front of that camera again, and put your whole self out there, knowing that on the other side of that camera is an audience that has the power to laugh your career into oblivion just as easily as they could make you viral for all the right reasons.
And then, I wonder why I struggle to understand what is wrong with our kids these days. Why do I expect our kids to behave in ways we don’t? How can I teach my children empathy, when I participate in the public shaming of an individual who cannot defend herself.
My girls watched me. And now they know. I am the kind of person who laughs when I shouldn’t.
And how can I teach them that women are amazing, and powerful, and creative, and worthy when I watched a woman dare to dream and put her whole self out there, and then I laugh … and then encourage others to do the same?
Dear mama who found frozen peanut butter easier and wanted to share it with the world …
I won’t say I think your idea will work for me. I prefer spreading it myself. But that never was the point, was it?
Yes — you wanted to share an easy hack, but not because you are passionate about PB&Js (or PB and honey with chocolate sprinkles) — but because you are passionate about the message you have inside you. And this little “hack” was really nothing more than one more wheel you gotta spin if you want to get where you’re going. I know … because there are days I’m spinning wheels too to get where I’m going because I’ve got a dream and I’ve got a message. And I think neither of us could say we’d be fully true to ourselves if we didn’t do the things it took to get our message that we believe in out there to the world.
We both have integrity like that. Except mine had a serious lapse recently. It lapsed the day I laughed at you.
And from dreamer, one doer, one creator to another … I have to say shame on me. (Or maybe as Brene would prefer, guilt on me.)
I hope this is not the end for you. I believe that you DO have what it takes, and I hope that one day, people will be able to see what beauty you have to offer this world, and they won’t be so blinded by their quick judgments that you get your second chance.
In the meantime, I ask for your forgiveness. For being a bully. For not cheering you on. For setting a bad example to my girls.
And to the rest of us, those of us who are so desperate for a laugh in this hard and sometimes oppressive world we live in — may we be ever more conscious to take note when we are laughing at someone, and not with them.
Because the lady who gave us the peanut butter hack we didn’t know we needed gave us instead the life hack we all needed:
Be kind. Always.
Hoping to do better — be better — next time.
Your fan — and a believer in second chances for us all,