Last month, WVOM’s Ric Tyler, from the George Hale/Ric Tyler morning show, invited me into the studio to talk about online commenters. This meant that I had to read through months-worth of online comments and still look in the mirror without feeling fat, stupid, ugly and arrogant afterward. Because that’s how some commenters describe me.

Commenters have a lot of things to say about everything — from my headshot to my parenting. And, really, that’s fair. I write publicly about my life, and readers should be welcome to write back.

But this experience on Ric’s show made me aware of a few misconceptions that I’d like to clear up.

I Have Two Sons

I have three sons. If this is news to you, you are in good company. Many readers think I have only two children. Some commenters, in fact, accuse me of loving just two children and forgetting the third. They say I have favorites.

Much of this confusion stems from a national Eggo waffle shortage that happened many years ago, after which one of my boys seemed to disappear. That’s right; you aren’t imagining it.

You’re not crazy.

In the wake of the national Eggo shortage, I wrote about how many frozen waffles I’ve made since becoming a mother and how many more I’m projected to make before my children leave home. Readers, by the way, were outraged that I serve my boys frozen waffles for breakfast — even after I pointed out that I cook the waffles first.

But no one was more outraged than one of my sons, whom I described as flopping on the floor after learning that we didn’t have waffles — that in fact, all of America was out of waffles.

He came home from school, slammed the door and said, “Never write about me again.”

And I didn’t.

Until a few years later when he said, “Why don’t you ever write about me? Don’t you love me?”

That son’s name is Owen. He is my middle son. He has approved this message.

My Husband Must Hate Me

There is a common refrain on the comment boards, and it goes something like this: “Geez, why does this Dustin guy stay married to Sarah anyway?”

You know, I had never really thought about it. Why do any of our spouses stay married to us?

I decided to ask Dustin.

ME: Why do you stay married to me?

HIM (without looking up from the newspaper): Because you make me less boring than I would be otherwise.

So, there you have it.

I’m Coddling My Children

These comments are my kids’ favorites. They laugh about them as they walk home from school in cold, blowing snow. Then they laugh again when they call me and ask, “Can you come pick us up?” and I say, “No.

I’m Too Hard on My Kids

I’d respond to this if I didn’t think these comments might actually be from my kids.

My Children Should Run Away

One of my favorite comments complimented me on “almost” admitting that I’m a “total failure” as a parent. I mean, at least the person gave me credit for something.

Another commenter suggested that my children should run away while they still can. And several years ago, a reader actually wanted to report me to Child Protective Services for the egregious act of letting my kids ride their bikes in a residential street.

Well, you can all relax because Lindell did try to run away a few weeks ago. He took the dog, Sparky, and a handful of grapes with him. They got as far as the corner and came back. And this proves that being my child is at least better than living on the streets with a dog and some grapes.

I’m Hiding My Age with Old Head Shots

When a friend brought this comment to my attention, I grew a new wrinkle from laughing. Oh, how I wish I could use my headshot from 14 years ago. But it’s really awkward to meet people in real life if your headshot hasn’t aged right along with you.

The picture you see here today was taken in September. However, to be completely above board, I should tell you about all the aging that’s happened since then: I have a new age spot on my cheek; a funny mole was removed from my left arm, and now I have a scar; I have new gray hairs that are getting more difficult to cover; I can’t see the small writing on a pill bottle; and, more disconcerting, I can’t see my eyebrows to pluck them.

There, I think we are all caught up.

Maine author and columnist Sarah Smiley’s writing is syndicated weekly to publications across the country. She may be reached at