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Cornered Office

with Mir Kamin

I'm a freelance writer and mother of two working from home, which theoretically means I can set my own schedule so as to best accommodate my family. In reality, "flexible hours" often equals "working too much." Yes, I'm my own boss; no, that doesn't mean life is easy. It's hard to leave the office when you live there. But I love what I do and feel very lucky. And not just because I get paid to work in my pajamas.

To learn more about Mir, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! or visit her blog at

Learning a good thing from doing a stupid thing

Categories: A mother's work is never done, Like talking but with more typing, My boss is an idiot


I made a giant mistake today. Actually, it was a tiny mistake, but it felt like a giant one to me. It felt bad.

But let me back up a minute, first.

I mostly talk, in this space, about deliberate business decisions related to my career as a freelance writer. I don’t talk about my personal blog all that much because, honestly, while the personal blog certainly opened the doors that allowed me to make a career out of writing, my personal blog isn’t “work.” I make very little money from it, and other than a handy sort of living portfolio, it doesn’t figure into my professional life nearly the way almost everything else does. When I’m talking about “making my living as a writer,” that’s not what I’m talking about.

On the other hand, the personal blog is how it all started, and it’s where I’ve been writing the longest, and it’s (arguably) what I’m most “known” for, so it’s not unimportant. And I’ve been writing there coming up on nine years, so it’s all old hat for a pro like me, right?

I use pseudonyms for my children on my personal blog. As I recently explained to someone who asked me about that, I would never presume to say what boundaries make sense for other people, but for me, my decision—from the beginning of my online life—was to not share my children’s names or pictures. Those are the boundaries that make sense to me.

Today I shared a text exchange I’d recently had with my teenage daughter, and before writing about it on the blog, I did screen captures of the whole discussion, went into Photoshop and stitched them together into a single graphic, and very carefully changed the title bar (which displayed her real name) graphic to “Chickadee” (her blog name) before posting it to my blog. This sort of thing is second nature to me; I am always careful to remove any trace of real names before I post.

And then, somehow, someone asked me a question in the comments and I commented back and was careful to use pseudonyms when discussing something my son said, and then I got up from my computer for 20 minutes or so and came back to multiple emails asking me if I’d meant to use my kid’s real name in my comment. My stomach roiled as I clicked over to the comments and realized that somehow, after all this time, I had somehow messed up. I changed the transgression back to a pseudonym and realized that in three name mentions in that comment, I had somehow only gotten two of the three right, initially.

I sat at my desk feeling positively sick. That’s ridiculous, in and of itself, because… it’s not that big of a deal, right? I don’t know why it upset me so much, except that I’ve consciously shielded my children in this way for years, and to think that I possibly undid some of that with a careless error was upsetting. But it’s not like I accidentally posted our home address or a giant photo of my children in front of their school (maybe complete with a “come stalk me here” sign?) or anything. Plus, all in all, the error was posted for maybe twenty minutes. (Though I did go into my oft-neglected stats tracker to reassure myself that surely not a lot of people caught it, and… that was not reassuring. Sometimes having pretty good traffic is not comforting.)

So I beat myself up internally and freaked out a little bit and then, once sanity began to return, I realized something kind of neat.

First, let’s go back to boundaries—I would never presume that someone else’s choice to share their children’s names is bad or wrong or dangerous or anything like that. It’s simply that my boundary has always been not to do that.

Next, let’s remember how I found out I messed up—my readers told me. Several of them alerted me, and all of them did so with some concerned variation of, “I don’t think you meant to put that there….” My readers, knowing (and respecting) my boundaries, were kind and helpful. The one whom I mailed back with an, “OH CRAP! Fixed. I can’t believe I was so stupid,” even responded to assure me that I shouldn’t be too hard on myself and probably not many people noticed.

So I did a stupid thing, but I learned that my assumption of community and relative goodwill amongst my readers is well-founded. Silver lining! But I’m still going to be more careful in the future.

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6 comments so far...

  • I have the same guideline for my blog and I’ve made the same mistake before. You are not alone.

    Sandra Tayler  |  January 24th, 2013 at 7:08 pm

  • THANK YOU, Sandra. Did you feel sick, too? Because on the one hand I felt like I was overreacting, but on the other I thought, “AHHHHHH!!!!” ;)

    Mir  |  January 24th, 2013 at 7:15 pm

  • I use pseudonyms, too, and I’ve messed up. I hate that feeling so much: sick and hot and horrified. I reassure myself in these ways:

    1. It is literally not possibly to be 100% mistake-free. Literally not possible. Mistakes aren’t so much stupid as inevitable.

    2. Some people use their kids names all the time, and so far I haven’t heard of one single incident where a child was in danger because of it. Not one single incident! In YEARS of blogging. That seems good. So when I do slip, it’s probably like when I turn my back on a child in a shopping cart to pick up a can of soup: I suppose in that moment a kidnapper COULD appear and yoink him and run, but it’s so very, very unlikely. In fact, it’s more likely that he’s in danger from me dropping the can of soup on his head.

    swistle  |  January 24th, 2013 at 9:14 pm

  • Swistle, I didn’t really feel like I’d done something dangerous, just was furious with myself for 1) making a mistake and 2) potentially giving ammo to crazy people. (I’ve seen people make fun of bloggers’ kids’ names, and I’m a sensitive, delicate flower and that would upset me.)

    Mir  |  January 24th, 2013 at 9:19 pm

  • I love that your readers tipped you off. It is obvious that your priority is the protection of your children’s privacy. Now you know that your readers respect their privacy, too.

    Sharon  |  January 28th, 2013 at 11:43 am

  • I have the same M.O. and the same sense of boundaries, and even after all this time blogging (10 years this summer!), I just know it’s only a matter of time before I make the same mistake and feel the same sickness and then–hopefully!–realize it’s not all that bad considering that most of my audience is supportive and helpful like yours is. :)

    Leah K  |  January 29th, 2013 at 2:05 am