A Letter to My Accidentally Famous Son

Dear Dexter,

This is a strange letter to have to write to a kid who is not yet three years old. But it is one I have been thinking about for a very long time. When I first started writing you letters on this blog, I was doing so to document our time together, both before you were born and after. I never could quite imagine that anyone else would ever care to read them, and I continued to write them in the expectation that one day – and who knew when that day would be – you would be able to read them for yourself and would treasure reading them as much as I treasured writing them.

This blog really started because of you. Over the years, long before you were even a twinkle in my eye, I spent a lot of time on this here internet. I was of the generation that learned basic HTML by creating a Geocities website devoted to my favorite celebrity (in this case, The Road Dogg, a pro-wrestler for the then-WWF). I corresponded with faceless people in themed chat rooms, and I had to share an email address with my mother and the rest of the family. We only had dial-up internet, which meant that we had to wait for a loud, obnoxious modem to dial into the world wide web, and if anyone picked up the phone (we still had house phones back then!), the fragile internet connection would be lost.

I used to visit sites like Ask Jeeves to find answers to questions. Back then, Google wasn’t around – or at least I’d never heard of it! But there were various sites – like Yahoo or the aforementioned Geocities – that allowed us to connect with other people and reach out into the world beyond our own little towns. In a strange foreshadowing of my future move to England, I once made friends with a 16 year old girl from the UK. She used funny words I’d never heard, and she explained the differences in our culture in a way that no history teacher ever had. I wish I remembered her name because I would have looked her up.

I met my first husband online. He wrote for a wrestling newsletter that had thousands of subscribers. We somehow fell in love through the written words we sent into the ether, and I moved to England to live with him in the early 2000s. Given that I was so far away from family and friends and everything I’d ever known, I was grateful for the internet to keep me connected to home. Email was great, but I found another medium that filled a void – blogging.

My first blog was on LiveJournal, and it was amazing. It allowed me to keep a diary of all of my life experiences – the good and the bad – and anyone could read it. Not only were my family and friends invited, but random strangers began to interact with me, as well. It made me feel not so alone. Even now, over a decade later, I still am in daily contact with some of those friends I made online. The world is not such a big place after all.

In  my early forays into blogging, I spent an awful lot of time writing about childish things. My frustrations with my first husband, my annoyance at celebrities, my memories of other places and other times. I also wrote a lot of fiction. I have always wanted to be a writer, and I joined up with communities that allowed me to share my stories and have them critiqued. Some of those stories were true, some were exaggerated, and some were just downright made up. I never worried about disclosure or what people would think. I wrote because I loved to write, and I wanted people to read my words.

I blogged through my good times and my bad times. I blogged through the death of loved ones. I blogged through my first wedding, my entire first marriage, and I blogged through my divorce. I blogged through depression and attempted suicide. I wrote abysmal poetry, and I shared photos of bloody self harm. I was a mess, and I blogged through it all.  I had no reason for discretion because I had no one but myself to protect.

I blogged very little when I first met your father. Those first six months, I probably only sat down twice to update. And that is a bit of a regret because those were some of the best months of my life. When we found out you were coming, I knew that I finally had a real reason to blog. I wanted to share every aspect of my pregnancy, your birth and your life with my family and friends. I wanted to give hope to women who had been told – like me – that they couldn’t have kids. I wanted to share our story. And because I was a little bit paranoid about the risks associated with my pregnancy – I had been told it would be quite dangerous for me to have kids – I was afraid that I might not make it through your birth, and I wanted you to be able to have physical proof of how much I loved you.

I did the same when I found out I was expecting your little brother. I blogged constantly, and I tried to capture every detail in case I wasn’t there to share it personally. That pregnancy was pretty bad. I really thought I might not make it through.

But I did. And you know what? Part of that was down to the constant feedback I had from those who read this blog. I felt such a sense of community. Women (and men) who had been through hard times sent me strength and helped me never to give up. When we were told your brother might have some pretty severe problems, and we were told that I was too ill to do much of anything except lay there and wait, I shared it all and found comfort in all those who promised they were right there with me.

Obviously, the worst never came. Daniel was born healthy only five weeks early. I had to have a blood transfusion, and it was a few months before I was feeling well again, but we got there.  And I kept on blogging. For you. For your brother. For your father. And for me.

Our little family - September 2013 - Salt Lake City, UT
Our little family – September 2013 – Salt Lake City, UT

But then something terrible happened. We had a minor incident that turned into a worldwide talking point. Our whole family was dragged into the limelight, and it seemed that the whole planet knew your name. At first, I was proud – something I had written about a subject that I thought was important was getting recognition. People were paying attention, and that was good. That whole time is a bit of a blur, but I remember just being floored by how much attention was coming our way. Every news agency, and every major network in America got in touch with us. We were invited to be on TV, to be interviewed for magazines. Some of the more unscrupulous newspapers published stories about us without asking permission, stealing photos from my facebook account.

Very quickly, though, the attention turned negative. Suddenly there was a great focus on me and some of the things I’d written in the past. Some of the stories from other blogs or websites were being dragged out and used to discredit me. And since there’s nothing that the media loves more than a story about a fall from grace, many places started claiming that I’d lied. And those that weren’t claiming I lied started looking at me as a bad mother for writing about it at all.

Suffice it to say that for a few weeks, life was miserable. I lost the plot spectacularly, giving in to depression and feeling more than ever that I wanted to die. I felt like I’d failed you and your brother. The sick and twisted emails, phone calls and post that we received did me in. I will NEVER repeat some of the things that people said about you. I will never forget the horrible things that were said about me.

I questioned whether I was a good mother. Had I really failed to protect you? Not only in the original incident, but every second since? The fact that a reporter showed up at our front door, having found us by piecing together photos I’d shared was terrifying. If he could do it, anyone could. He sat down with us and showed me how easily we could be found because of my presence on social media. When he left, I shut down everything. I deleted most of my accounts, and those that I didn’t, I completely privatized. But the attention seemed to take forever to go away.

We left home for a while. We visited your grandparents in Pennsylvania and then we took a trip to the west coast to see your dad’s family. Things calmed down, and I was able to breathe a little easier.

Eventually, I brought things back online. I started blogging again. It was hard, and I was scared, but your dad didn’t want me to let the bastards win.

I realized after all of this that there is a difference between documenting our family stories and chasing publicity. While I genuinely never imagined that we would have become somewhat famous due to a blog post, I understand now that it could happen to anyone at any time. The power of social media is that if you have a strong opinion – about anything! – there will be those who will passionately agree with you, and there will be others who vehemently disagree and want to see you destroyed.

There are also people out there who just get off on hate. They will say the most disgusting things in order to hurt you, and they want nothing as much as to see you break. And you will always have two choices: to give in or to stand tall.

So what I want you to know now, my beautiful tow-headed boy; my accidentally famous son; what I want you to know is that it is never okay to give in. If you make a mistake – own up to it. If you are right – then fight for yourself tooth and nail. Never accept defeat. You can find a way to turn any situation around.

In the last couple of months, I’ve been careful not to share too much. The direction of this blog has changed a little bit as a result, but that is okay. You and your brother are the most important things in my life, and I would do anything to protect you – and that includes trying to protect you from myself.

At the end of the day, my boy, you really are the reason I keep going with this blog. Because despite my self-doubt and what the naysayers like to believe – I know I would give a lot to have a written account from my own mother about my early years. I would love to have that insight into my own childhood, and your father feels the same. This blog is a labor of love for you and your brother, and I will continue to write it as long as I feel it is viable.

And if we ever get accidentally famous again – I will be sure to look the whole world in the eyes, refusing to be bullied into any course of action I don’t want to take. I will be the example that I want you to follow. And I will protect you at any cost.

Forever your loving mother,

Katie

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Katie Reed

Katie Reed

Katie Reed is a 38 year old mom blogger from Salt Lake City, UT. She is married to the man of her dreams and together they have four beautiful boys. Dexter is 9, Daniel is 7, Chester is 5 and Wilder is 2. She writes about living with mental health issues while navigating motherhood. Her blog focuses on tips and tricks for moms, information and parenting news, kid-friendly recipes and crafts. She loves to reflect on the humorous side of parenthood and shares the reality of her life, with a "warts and all" attitude.

50 Responses

  1. I don’t agree with raising gay kids. But it’s not your fault and no one has the right to make you feel bad until we know for sure if he is gay or not. Just do your best to make him okay.

    1. I’m pretty sure I am a little offended at your comment. But I can see it came from a good place. I don’t care if my son is gay or straight or in love with a martian. He is my son, and I will love him no matter what.

          1. I was not trolling. MY SON is a homosexual and I strongly believe in equal rights for all, including the right to wear a pink headband! If we don’t unite and stand up for our children, and if our children who are ‘different’ do not stand together and fight, then who will? Why are you calling me names?? It is incredible how fast you jump to conclusions when somebody is just trying to show support. Unbelievable, and shameful.
            Shame on you.

          2. …..I thought by wearing pink headbands we could all show our support. And then you call me names for being on your side? I just do not understand your logic.

  2. I know you don’t know me, but I just wanted to tell you that I’m proud of you. I’m proud of you for the original post, I’m proud of you for not giving up, and for being yourself and posting anything and everything. I am the exact same way. I am very opinionated, and anyone who wants to run their mouth about it, can suck it (sorry). Your son is beautiful, and gay, straight, bisexual, asexual, who the hell gives a crap? He’s a person. A person with feelings. An innocent child. And I think you are being a great mom for supporting him in his individuality and helping him to grow up to be a strong man. Props to you!

  3. Katie, firstly thank you so much for linking to the Monday Parenting Pin It Party….blah blah blah. More importantly I am so, SO, glad that you have not let them scare you away from blogging. I read that post and was utterly horrified of the events that occurred afterwards. I cannot begin to imagine what you went through but in no way was it your fault. There are some truly awful people out there. You cannot let them win, and you haven’t. Finally, man does your sone have BEAUTIFUL eyes?! x

    1. Thank you, hon. I have been very blessed that so many were so supportive. The rest of the naysayers don’t even matter to me because I did what was best for me and my kids.

      And thank you for the lovely compliment. My boys have the most amazing eyes, in my humble opinion. 😉

  4. I am so glad that you didn’t let the bastards win lovely! You are a great Mama and a wonderful person who didn’t deserve all the hatred aimed at you and Dex certainly doesn’t deserve it!

    I’m glad to see you back blogging and on Social media! Bullies NEVER win!

  5. I am so glad you made your come back as well. Can’t let them win. I was so worried about you through that whole incident. It also gave me the reality check that you described… at any moment, something we write can be spun and spun. Good for you for being so strong and good for your man for supporting you!!!

    1. Thank you, sweetie. That was definitely one of the worst times of my life. But if I had to go through it again, I know I would have handled it completely differently. It taught me a lot of lessons about the internet and people who hide behind anonymity. I will never let them affect me like that again. Thank you for the support, lady! 🙂

  6. Why are you still bringing this up? You were proven to have LIED about the Walmart incident. Go concentrate on your kids, rather than trying to be internet famous.

    1. I’m pathetic for talking about my life on my blog? Interesting theory, thanks for playing. GOMI may be fun snark for brainless idiots, but it’s not exactly known for journalistic integrity. Get over yourself and stop believing everything you read on gossip sites. You think I’m ridiculous for talking about it and yet your precious GOMI can’t seem to let it go.

  7. hmmm… these people want you to let it go yet it seems they are moths drawn to a flame. They secretly love it. They need an outlet for their frustrations in life I suppose. Oh well. Don’t let it get you down Katie. This is your blog about your life. If they don’t like it, they should simply move on.

    1. Believe me, sweetie, these people couldn’t get me down if they tried. I let them get to me once, and that will never happen again. Meanwhile, they are welcome to keep sending traffic my way. At the end of the day, that’s all they are good for. xx

  8. Oh, you’ve decided to start protecting your son now? How thoughtful of you. Should have started that during your whole OMG Wal-mart incident by alerting a manager or calling the police. Most mothers would do such a thing when a stranger puts their hands on their child. But then again most mothers aren’t selfish, attention seeking pathological liars who willingly and heartlessly pimp out their son just to gain a little fame on the internet.

    You want to protect your son, Katie? Stop posting about him on the Internet.

    1. Oh wow. Another person calling me a liar and attention whore and selfish and a bad mom. Because God knows that every person in the world handles every situation perfectly, and no one is ever too scared to react “the right way” when put in a bad situation. And I am certainly the only person in the world who blogs and who shares information online. I’m sure you’ve never posted anything at all contentious from your chair over at the University of Tennessee.

      God forbid a mother should try and teach her child anything but violence against aggressors and how to prosecute for every single infraction. God forbid actually taking time to think, looking at a situation objectively, realizing you over reacted and leaving well enough alone.

      God forbid I try to move on with my life without checking it’s okay with the internet. I mean, clearly every decision I make for my kids should be held to a vote of all the people who might ever potentially read my blog.

      Get over yourself. You have no say in how I bring up my kids. You can sit back and judge me however you like, and it makes absolutely no difference to me. My children are loved, protected and completely happy. If you think it’s wrong for me to “pimp out my son” then why are you so keen to add to the attention? Stop talking about it. Leave me be. And go about your life.

  9. Just ask Wal-Mart to give you access to the security tape and then post it. Why is that so hard? Then no one could call you a liar.

    Your actions were damaging to actual members of the gay community. By creating an essentially false story (which you spammed EVERYWHERE…remember getting shadow banned at Reddit?), you created distrust of this community and made it harder for anyone who is actually abused in the future to be believed.
    You really are quite shameless.
    If you quit talking about it, so will everyone else.

    1. I have found that WalMart does NOT hand over security tapes to anyone who asks for them. Only to the police. And the police HAVE them. We called them SEVERAL times in the beginning asking to know what was on them, and they passed the buck between various people who were “handling” our case. Eventually, when everything got too overwhelming, I backed down.

      I did not create a false story. It happened, whether you want to believe it or not. And I did not spam it ANYWHERE. I posted it ONCE – to reddit. The reason I was shadowbanned is because after it got so much attention, someone looked into my reddit history and saw that the ONLY two other things I’d EVER posted were links to my own posts. That is against reddit rules (which I did not know). I didn’t have ANY chance to defend myself because once banned, always banned.

      If I did any damage to the LGBTQ community, it is because people have continually refused to believe me and have made it a MISSION to smear my name. Even now, people are twisting whole facts. No one bothers to correct them when they do it. For instance, it is STILL maintained as fact that I claimed I was meant to be on one of the 9/11 planes that crashed. That is COMPLETE bull. What I said is that I used to be a flight attendant (AFTER 9.11). Months after I quit, the ROUTE I flew (not the plane) crashed and everyone was killed. That is not at all the same thing. But once a story is told, it is changed again and again to suit whatever the person wants others to believe.

      As I have said before, this is my life, and this incident has impacted it HUGELY. I have every right to talk about it, and in the future when my son looks himself up online and sees all the nasty stories about his mother, I will be able to produce posts like this one that show my side of the story and give him a way of knowing the truth.

      I’m sure this whole response is TL;DR for your short attention span, so feel free to walk away and don’t come back.

  10. YOU have even mentioned being a former pathological liar and fabricated your life, and admitted doing so. Then you get pissed off because no one believes you in an event that gained SO much publicity internationally and you couldn’t even backup what it is you claim happened? Sorry if the bullshit monitors of the world called you on your shit and this IS like the third time YOU have brought up the issue and beat the dead horse AGAIN. If Wal-Mart doesn’t release clear videos to the public like you claimed and only police, it is hilarious seeing how they have released plenty to the media. And if you were such a loving parent who cared about society, what the fuck were you doing in a store where they treat their employees like chattel? Are you wanting sainthood for supposedly protecting your child but continuing to exploit the employees of such a horrible business? Either way, you are crackers Vick. Your story went viral, screencaps of your husband hoping one of your posts goes viral on twitter doesn’t help your case. Quit bringing this event up and it will go away and no one will care anymore, but since you come back to it as the proverbial fly to shit you cannot help it. As far as GOMI goes, you have no room to talk about journalistic integrity. No one at GOMI cared about the event after it died down…but of course since you brought it up, there is going to be a reaction. 3 times to count. Can we count on a fourth? Yeah you did do damage to the LGBTQI community. I don’t need headcases like you creating messes for us for attention anymore than I need some lesbian in Nebraska faking a gay bashing. Did you ever read up on her responses to that event in the aftermath when shit didn’t add up? Everything (like you) was ME-centric. Get a shrink, raise your family and do them a favor and just quit blogging about them. Your son likely is going to need more than this above letter of apology when the memories of the internet come up and everyone sees what a nutjob his mom was and maybe he too will ask “Where is the tape?” if an asshat like Geraldo can get access, so can you!

    1. I’m not going to waste my breath replying YET AGAIN to the same accusations. However, I do find it entirely hypocritical that people like you feel that you are entitled to come here and post long diatribes against me, forcing your unwanted opinions on me about something you know next to NOTHING about, while telling me that I should keep my mouth shut and not ever discuss it again. You are so quick to remind me that I am a “self confessed pathological liar” yet you have no basis for that other than something *I* said years ago in a writing contest. You’re happy to believe anything bad I say about myself, yet anything good I say is a lie. Twisted logic. Seriously – get a life and stop worrying about me and what I say on my blog. If you think I’m a liar, then just don’t read it. Feel smug and superior somewhere else.

  11. Get a life? I’m not the one in a controversy you dumb bitch. And since YOU professed you wrote something in a writing contest it stuck about you being a liar (did you not see that one coming Susanna Kaysen?) and ya cannot take it back. Smug and superior is an idiot who landed in a nutbin because she couldn’t take pizza deliveries and wants it all to go away. Epic fail. EVERY time you bring back that incident that you made up and lied about (and funny if I was being so accused of making shit up, I’d rub in the faces what the truth is with evidence, which you of course lack) it is going to open up a shit storm. Keep bringing the world your ‘journalistic integrity’ you seem to have shoved up your own asshole Vicky, you brought this on yourself and have NO one to blame but yourself. Off to feel smug and superior in a store that has unionized workers. Keep shopping at Wal-Mart, again shows what you know about the word integrity bitch!

    1. And there you go. The typical response of someone who has no logical response. Just name calling and throwing your toys out of your pram. I have nothing to prove. The incident is long over and is not even an issue any longer. The only continuing stress is from people like you who hound us and use the anonymity of the internet to bully and destroy. You and your kind take pride in hurting real people based on your own pathetic desire to be part of a community. One day you will push someone too far and you will have REAL blood on your hands. Hope you can live with yourselves then. Don’t bother replying. I won’t accept your comments.

  12. ” I have nothing to prove.” Put that on your coat of arms and please keep telling us about who is pathetic, or do the men in white coats seem too close in your not so distant past?

    1. Actually yes. I have struggled with depression for a very long time and continue to do so. I work hard to be a good mother. It is difficult. And yet despite my continued efforts to disengage I still get brutal assaults from people who are determined to watch me self destruct. As I said, you are walking a fine line. You have every right to go be snarky on GOMI. Anything I see there is my own fault for seeking it out. But you are a real sick person to come here and be cruel. Truly what do you hope to gain?

      1. You know you are right. Why don’t you let all this misdirected rage so many people have, light a fire under the police to see where any and why this investigation ran to a screeching halt and nothing became of it. The police (in thinking about it) have done nothing to protect your situation to help you but allowed you to be drawn and quartered. Who do we have to call? You are correct. Misguided anger can get the best of people and it can make things worse, and for that I am sorry. In situations no one can say there is a guidebook on reaction or grieving or anything of the nature. You deserve closure, not anger.

        1. You know, I have no idea whether you are being genuine or if you are trying to goad me into saying something wrong. But truthfully, I actually agree with you. The police were incredibly unsupportive and unhelpful from the beginning. They were asked to our house three times, and each time I was blamed for having a blog and daring to write in it. When it all got too much for me, instead of being helpful they took me to the hospital against my will “to help me.” They swore to me that HIPAA laws would protect me and that because my son was a minor, his name would not be mentioned. Yet, the SECOND I got out of the hospital, I found out that they released a report with our home address AND my son’s name on it in plain letters. Literally anyone who wished us harm would know exactly where to find us.

          The very first statement the police gave to the news before they’d EVER even investigated quoted them as saying they were going to meet with loss prevention to see if there was video footage “or if it was all made up.” They had absolutely no reason to doubt my word, yet they released a statement which made it look like there was every possibility I HAD made it up. Still, we waited for them to do what they said. Each time we called them for an update, they said they hadn’t got the video yet, or they hadn’t looked at it yet, and the last time we called, they simply said the officer in charge was on vacation and they would deal with it when he came back.

          We originally were being dealt with by one police station, and then it was given to another county. One officer was dealing with the original incident, and another officer was dealing with the online abuse. They had copies of all the emails, phone numbers, etc, and yet they simply told us that unless someone showed up on my doorstep with a gun pointed in my face, they would not do anything about it. They put a patrol in our neighborhood to keep an eye on things and advised us to just get away for a while – go see family – which we did. And yet, the internet jumped on that as us “rushing to leave town” because we were guilty and afraid the police would arrest us for making it up.

          How is any of this right?

          And yet, I get crap from everywhere still because I dare to mention it on my blog. This is the biggest thing that has ever happened to us. Our family was rocked to the core. My son’s name is all over the internet for anyone to look him up before he is even three years old. Yes, I feel great guilt because it was me who originally put it there, never dreaming anything bad could happen. People tell me I’m crazy and stupid and a terrible mother, and believe me, I kick myself now for how much I have shared. I have removed their names from this blog, but I can’t remove them from the internet, as people are too free to write what they want.

          And when I try to move on from it all so that I can get closure (which is taking time given how betrayed we have felt by the police and media), I get people coming here and calling me a bitch and telling me that I’m mentally ill and need to be in a nut house.

          Forgive me, but I am DAMN angry. I am pissed off and hurt, and I am still trying to let my kids be kids. They don’t need a mom who is depressed and angry. They need one who has come through adversity stronger and wiser. And I am trying as hard as I can to be that person for them. But as the internet is forever and people believe whatever they read, I will always be known as the nutcase who made it all up.

          And for the record – I no longer shop at WalMart. To my shame, I never knew anything about their employee practices until after this all happened.

  13. No. I am being honest. I guess I was participating in group think. I am sorry. I really am sorry. I am not trying to goad you. Like I said, closure. My personal email is under my name, not one I use for spam. If there is someone that can be contacted, why not try and see. Though Walmart’s history has been notorious, I can kind of understand that living in the South where you are and also with them being everywhere like a 7-11, perhaps it isn’t as discussed as it is in the northern states who tend to be more concerned with such issues compared to a state who had a Bush in office that have done more to prevent Wal-Mart from coming into their communities. I would think it odd that loss prevention wouldn’t be at Wal-Mart that day. It was during the DAY. That place has more cameras than maybe even Edward Snowden knows about. There might be avenues you haven’t thought of. Contact me. Ciao.

  14. The truth is you lied. You were caught in that lie. There was surveillance footage,etc. You are not the only person that has ever told a lie. But instead of telling your children that bullies attacked you for no reason, use it as a chance to teach them why it’s not ok to lie. Even if you feel you are proving a good point or bringing awareness to an issue. The truth will always stand up to scrutiny. Also when you described the alleged assailant, you made him the typical redneck caricature. People like you are the reason that every time someone hears a southern accent they assume that the speaker is a stupid bigot. So thanks for bringing more hate in to the world.

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Katie Reed [A Mother Thing] is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

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