Readers left 240 comments in the first 24 hours after the piece was posted, after which Salon closed the comment thread. Most of the comment writers held strong opinions about my essay, many of them decidedly critical, and the conversation was, er, lively, to say the least (more specifics in a later post).
Elsewhere, though, reactions were overwhelmingly positive. More than 5,000 people clicked the Facebook "like" button. I received nearly 100 email messages through my website, all but one or two wonderfully supportive, many from people facing similar predicaments. Mentions of my piece bounced around in emails, on Twitter and Facebook, on more than 50 blogs. NPR's Robin Young interviewed me for "Here and Now" (hasn't aired yet -- I'll post a date when I hear anything). Samantha Parent Walravens offered to include my piece in an upcoming anthology she's editing called "TORN: True Stories of Kids, Career & the Conflict of Modern Motherhood" (out in May from Coffeetown Press).
I’m not sure if all of this officially qualifies as “going viral.” I’m certainly no Susan Boyle, or kid riding home from the dentist. I’m not even Amy Chua, whose book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” and controversial excerpt in the Wall Street Journal elbowed me out of the motherhood-news spotlight a couple of days later.
Still, the brief fuss was fun, and very encouraging. Mainly because the reactions reinforced my long-held suspicion that the subject of mothers’ unpaid caregiving—how much they do, how much they “should” do, what financial sacrifices it entails and what society owes or does not owe mothers in return—has not received enough public discussion. Not nearly enough.
So that will be the first item on our agenda here. I welcome those who have stopped in to join the conversation and always feel free to express your opinions, whatever they may be. I love a good debate!