Friday, May 24, 2013

Zingers for The Critics

The one advantage about fiction writing is that you can create characters who are oozing wit.  They spout off zingers in the next paragraph beat, which may have taken the writer ten months to create/polish/edit.  In real life, your mouth is actually hanging open at the unbelievable criticism that are hurled to your face about the choices you make…and then you think of the appropriate response five or so years later.   So here are the things I wish I could have said, had I given myself a script.

DISCLAIMER:  my responses don’t necessarily mean I claim to have the lifestyle that’s a blueprint for all.  I do respect that other people/families discern what’s best for their own families and are raising saints while I struggle. I also believe some comments were made without malice, lack of foresight/tongue control and mine obviously are just made with a stung ego.  But for the little it's worth, here goes a lot of defensive moot and academic conversations in my head:

1.  To A who said, “How can you want more kids?  You have a LOT!”  (By a lot, she meant 3 (which is more than the “average” 2)):  I say, “I do! And I should get handicap parking privileges.  I'm always short an arm.”

2.  To B who said, “Oh that’s right you homeschool…but you can’t really do lab work with that, can you?”:  I sweetly say: “Not all of us are required to (or can afford to) master science to get past the pearly gates.  I’m sure that worked out great for Pope Francis with the papacy campaign and all, but seeing I have no sons, I don’t need to worry about that sort of thing.”

No labs here.  Just carpentry, art and science all in one bird-house making class...

3.   To C, a former co-worker who said, “You go to Mass for your lunch break?!?!”, I say: “You want to hang out in the lunch room so you can pick up the phone when it rings?!?”

4. To D, who clucked and snorted, “You just wasted a law degree to become a housewife.” I say with a nod and a grin, “Sure did.  Who would have thought I'd write Catholic books and blogs instead of boring (*yawn*) legal briefs that only two people read (one of which is paid to pick it apart)  AND,”  I lean in to whisper, “deal with a cute tyrant of a two year old instead of  adult {insert judges, attorneys, bosses, clients, co-workers} who whine and act like two year olds?  Does anyone want to swap their lit/education/parenting 101/blogging degree for mine?”

5. To E, who commented in front of my three sweet girls, “You probably want a boy next time around, huh?”, I say:  “Yes! I mean, No! because then I’ll have to think of a new reply to # 2.  And I don’t really want to give the world a ‘Cardinal Hazard’ –the media would have a field day with that one.  But wait… it would be nice to be the only woman in a Pope’s life.  I do want a boy. On the other hand, I’m starting to get the hang of raising girls, maybe a fifth one would be a future Therese of Liseux, so I let God decide instead of playing China.” (Sorry for the Mama Bear roar.)

6.  To F, whose eyes crept up and down my outfit and cocked her eyebrow with the silent message:  “Why does your neckline and hemline look like it jumped out of the pages of a magazine cover…fifty years ago?”,  I waggle my eyebrows, which translates: “Why, thanks! Vintage is really cool.”

7. Finally to Thomas Kempis who said “Priorities, girl! Priorities!”  So okay, he didn’t say it in those words.  What he actually said to me when I opened his book “The Imitation of Christ” after all that exchange of pleasantries in my mind, was this: “The glory of good persons is in their own consciences, not in the praise of others…those seek temporal glory and do not treat it with contempt have little love for the joy of heaven. Those who are indifferent to praise or blame have great tranquility of heart.  Persons whose conscience is clear have peace and contentment.  You are no better for being praised, nor worse for being blamed, for you are what you are, nor will you be more nor less than God sees you to be.  If you know what you are within yourself, the opinion of others will not interest you….For St. Paul says, “For it is not the one who commends himself who is really approved, but the one whom the Lord commends (2 Cor 10:18). I say: “Good thing I kept my trap shut in retrospect. Now to work on blog silence.” 

Thank you Jen for hosting at 7 QT in



Nancy Shuman said...

Love this!

Jamie Jo said...

Oh, gosh, just wait til you have more than 3 kids...those comments keep coming and they get worse and worse with each one. My all time favorite--"Are you done yet?" To which I respond, "I don't know, that's up to God"

Great post!

Anna Yager said...

I'm stunned! I loved your comebacks, but #7 was the thrust to the heart! That, I think. is what most writers strive for - to touch the depths. Great writing! More! More!

Anabelle Hazard said...

Thank you Anna and Nancy.
Jamie I'll steal your line when I get asked that.

8 kids and a business said...

LOL! Your comebacks are golden! I usually say nothing,not because I'm virtuous, but because I'm initially stunned at their comments. eg. "you have 8 kids? You can use birth control, you know" "Christopher Hitchens was right."

Gina said...

Why can I not high-five you through the screen for this post?


Here here!

Goodness... people, sometimes. You have to wonder how their heads got screwed on the way they did...

Vicky said...

Yep, I can relate to this, Anabelle. I must admit that I don't even bother to reply, these days. I take the lazy way out and just smile nicely and agree. The other day, someone expressed amazement that we had six children! I just smiled but the children were jumping up and down in the background because I hadn't admitted to the other two. I guess it doesn't seem important to respond, anymore. Most of the time, these people are just trying to make friendly small talk and, when they really are criticising, I don't think my response would settle their concerns.

Great post, Anabelle!

God bless:-)