Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

I, the Ex You Haven’t Seen in 10 Years, Must Share My Thoughts on Your Essay on Motherhood

Really, I need you to see my edits. Now.

Sylvia Baedorf Kassis
Mar 3 · 3 min read

Sure, it’s 12:30 in the morning; but you shouldn’t be at all concerned that I felt compelled to take your already published essay and copy it into Word so that I could edit with reckless abandon and then send it to you. I couldn’t help myself, y’know? I just can’t stand it when something is so close to being great and my help is the only way to get it across that finish line.

Plus, since the first female Vice President just took office in the White House, I can safely conclude that the world has achieved gender equality and it is my duty to even more forcefully assert my opinions on experiences I know absolutely nothing about. I guess you could say I like to grab’em by the essay. Male privilege is a thing of the past… and I’m cool with it.

It’s true — I may be a middle-aged, unwed, childless man — but you want your writing to appeal to all audiences and be everything to everyone, right? My complete rewrite unequivocally accomplishes that, so ignore any of the placating encouragement you’re hearing from other women and listen to me.

I noticed entire paragraphs in your 1000-word essay that are merely superfluous drivel about your feelings. It’s not personal that I deleted most of your long-winded reflections on motherhood. Kill your darlings, I say!

And while I appreciate that your piece likely went through several workshopping sessions, revisions, and copy-edits before being published, I bet the only male perspective you sought was that of your overly supportive, unobjective husband. But see! Now I’ve fixed that! You’re welcome.

Oh — and I know you didn’t actually ask for my input.

In fact, we haven’t spoken about anything substantive since adolescence, but when I have a grand vision for someone else’s creative work, who am I to stop myself from unleashing my genius? There certainly aren’t enough venues for men to share their viewpoints. :(

I also realize this is the first piece you’ve ever published, and barely 24 hours have passed since its release. Your happiness about it is so cute! I’m just worried about you getting too comfortable with your “success” as a writer. There are far too many overrated, middle-aged female authors with inflated egos. And let me be perfectly clear: you’re no Glennon or Cheryl, so I want to protect you from the delusion of thinking you ever could be. I care about your well-being!

No doubt you expected that making yourself vulnerable might open you up to criticism. And I always aspire to exceed expectations! Despite 25 years of estrangement, I’m more committed than ever to cultivating your growth as a writer, but even more so as a human, under my adept tutelage.

I considered emailing my critique to the professional journal editors who believed your piece worthy of publication, but I absolutely respect boundaries and social norms. And as evidenced by my social media posts, I take enormous pride in being a trusted mentor to women and believe you deserve the benefit of a personal note that carefully details each of my profound perceptions on the plight of being a mother. Indubitably, you’ll find it useful!

Cheers,
Your high school ex-boyfriend

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