Married to the Mom
5. I am a recovering alcoholic and bulimic. 7 years sober…so in many ways I’m actually 7 years old. Sometimes I miss excess booze and food, in the same indescribable way you can miss someone who abused you and repeatedly left you for dead.
That was how it all started.
On a whim, Glennon Melton, a Mom in Virginia, started her blog by using the tried-and-true “25 Things” Internet meme to introduce herself. And for the Meltons, things have never been the same since.
[Editor's Note: Get reviews on Glennon Melton's book, "Carry On Warrior", by clicking here. If you've read it already, add your own review and let other Dadditudes readers know what you think of the book!]
“Even when she first said she was writing a blog,” says her husband, Craig, “I asked what she was going to write about and she said, ‘I don’t know, I’m just gonna do these twenty-five things,’ the thing that was circulating on Facebook. And I’m thinking okay, well, she’s not gonna get into… personal stuff, right? No one does that.”
Suddenly, “personal stuff” became the norm. That was the moment that Glennon’s life – and Craig’s as well – was splayed open for the world to see, and weigh in on. And on her blog, Momastery, she really does talk about everything. Her eating disorder. Her alcoholism. Her drug abuse. Her criminal record. And how, when she realized she was pregnant. she walked away from it all and never looked back. In her “25 Things”, she credits Craig with being “the only human being who could have healed me.”
We’re big Momastery fans here at Dadditudes. In many ways, we look at it as one of the world’s most compelling “Mom Blogs”, but let’s qualify that: If you’re looking for reviews of car seats, or advice on what you should do when your kid has a fever, or weekly lists of ten new ways to make grilled cheese sandwiches, you’re not going to find what you’re looking for. Thankfully, there are places to get that kind of important information, because the numbers will tell you that it’s information Moms and Dads are eager to find. But there’s none of that at Momastery. There is, however, unbridled honesty. There’s hope. There’s a person who understands what you feel like on the days when you beat yourself up for being less than perfect. There’s the unbelievable fundraising drive from last February when in ten hours, Glennon’s readers raised $25,100 to give a first-ever family vacation to a woman with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, whose dying wish was to – just once – hear her kids splashing around on a beach. And then, inconceivably, they topped it in May, coming up with more than $82,000 in 51 hours to purchase a new minivan for each of two families going through absolutely crushing challenges, and did both drives while imposing a maximum contribution limit of twenty-five dollars.
Much has been written about Glennon and her blog. But the husband and Dad, that “only human who could have healed me” has remained largely behind the scenes.
Our Editor-in-Chief, Neil Hedley got a chance to sit down with Craig Melton for a rare interview (it might actually have been his first). And rather than beat around the bush, Neil got started by addressing the elephant in the room.
Dadditudes: On her website, Glennon talks about how ten years ago, both of you were basically train wrecks.
Craig Melton: (laughs) Oh, absolutely.
Dadditudes: Then I have to wonder - for a person who’s a train wreck, there’s a big “A” word that sort of lurks around for a lot of people that find themselves in that situation, but it wasn’t apparently an option for the two of you.
Craig Melton: You’re obviously referring to the word “abortion”, right?
Dadditudes: If this isn’t something you’re comfortable talking about –
CM: You know, I’ve hardly ever discussed this with anybody that I can think of – maybe a couple of my close friends, so this is good – it’s good to talk about this. I think for me, there was a little bit of not really understanding what it meant to be a father; Glennon had this sense of, “I just feel inside that this is something that we have to do,” you know? She just had this feeling; I don’t know what it was, a sign or some reason that she said, ‘This is it.” So either God’s given her a sign, God’s given her some sort of indication that this was meant to be and I said, “Yeah, I love you, and I know we’ve only been dating for a short time, but let’s make this plunge, and let’s do it. I want to be a father, I want to be a husband and maybe this wasn’t supposed to be the way I thought things would play out, but now this is something that I want to do.”
D: Is that why she calls it “the best decision [she] never really made”?
CM: Well, we were kind of dating. Both really partying and going down a path that the most partiers do. One thing led to another, and with the pregnancy of our first-born, Chase, at the time it was the most terrifying thing, I think for both of us. We hadn’t planned on even the word “marriage”, let alone having a baby, and you fast-forward ten years, looking back on it, it’s the best thing we ever did. It just brought so much joy into our family it was terrifying while it happened, but it made us both slow down, stop what we were doing, reprioritize ourselves and actually get our lives focused on what we were supposed to be doing, being parents and being spouses.
D: So when we talk about fast-forwarding, let’s go back to that summer in 2009, when the “25 Things” post came out. I mean, you’re a pretty reserved kind of guy – Glennon once described you to me as “guarded”. So what was your reaction to having her take some really dirty laundry and put it out there?
CM: For me, there were six or seven things that I thought, “Are you really gonna post that?” And it was shocking, you know. Anybody would be shocked. I don’t know anybody who wouldn’t be, for their spouse to be able to put that stuff out there. And it was hard. I think it was - more selfishly – for me, because I was worried about what my friends would think of her, and us, and me after that.
D: Has that gotten easier?
CM: To be honest, even today there’s some things that – even her post [from the first week of September] about addiction; I mean, it was so powerful and even when I read it I thought, “Oh my gosh”. She talked about the challenges she has with bulimia even today. For me to read that again now… you think that she’s past some of these things, but she’s still struggling with it and that was tough to read. She shocks me to this day, still. But I know that what she’s doing is helping people; I didn’t realize it back in the day – I really didn’t know where this was going and I don’t think she knew where it was going. But I know it’s always helped people; it’s always been this community of women (and even men) that really respond and reacted really well and really just appreciated her for doing it. So as I started to read the comments and really understand where this was going, I said, “You know what, I’m gonna support you on this.” I mean, I supported her from the beginning but I was really cautious about “Where is this going?” But even today, it’s still hard to read some of the things that she puts out there. Because life is hard, you know? I know that there’s a purpose for it and I still just want to support her but it’s not easy; I’m not gonna lie, it’s still hard to read that.
D: When you say ‘there’s a purpose’, what do you mean?
CM: Well at first, she created the blog, and sent it to her friends and people signed up as followers. There was this percentage of really just passionate people that checked it every day, and it was this really small community. Even the first post of “25 Things” – people read that and just to write, just to be real and honest in a small way, inspired people. And then she just put more and more out there was just being more and more honest. Me? I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t put my faults out there; I am just not that person. But I see the positive thing that it does not just from comments but from the stories and the e-mails that she gets, which is another thing. She gets hundreds and hundreds of e-mails a day of just intense, intense, serious issues. And she is not a clinical psychologist by any means, so there are some things there that I worry about her taking on, you know? Taking on the weight of the world, or the weight of these people ‘s stories, people that are in dire situations. So there is that part of it as well that I’m sure has an effect. But the part that’s scary for me is that people that are in these really bad situations and reaching out to Glennon for help, and I can’t imagine how can she can still be a wife and a mother and do all these things, with all these other emotions going on.
D: That’s something I’ve wondered about, is the email response. Because it seems like there are some women who take issue with the way Glennon goes about things, from taking a stand on not running advertising to coining her own buzzwords (which is celebrated when Oprah does it). I’ve even seen people who seem angry that Glennon remains as positive as she does, almost as if the things she does makes them look at themselves, and they hold Glennon responsible if they don’t like what they see. But it sounds like the emails take a completely different direction.
CM: Well, her editor has another book going into production now, and they wanted to hear some testimonies of how her blog and her writing has spoken to women out there – and men as well – so she said, “Let me just today send you every e-mail that I get from people just sending e-mail through the website.” After a couple hours later, her editor said “I beg of you, stop sending me these e-mails, I just don’t know how you do it.” It was just a typical day full of really deep, scary e-mails that Glennon gets, that sometimes is too much for her. When I heard about that from her editor, it was really eye-opening. And there’s only so much that she can do as one person. So it’s changed the world in terms of people ‘s lives and but there are also people out there in desperate need of help.
D: So it sounds like your main role in Momastery is as “Supporter-in-Chief”.
CM: There is this overwhelmingly positive impact that I think she’s had for people. But there’s negative, too – she puts a lot of stuff out there that’s controversial – so I also worry about the negative e-mails that she gets. And actually, the the bigger this gets, the more negativity and criticism she’s going to receive as well because there’s a lot more out there that can be shot down. It’s not just a small community of a couple hundred women anymore; it’s really gotten to be a really big thing so I’m presented with some challenges. But I still am very supportive of her, and I know this is supposed to help people. I don’t know what form it’s going to take, I don’t think anybody knows that now. But writing is her calling. She found her gift and she found a way to help people. Even if it’s just helping one person, I think it’s a blessing. A lot of times it’s so overwhelming that she gets like, “Maybe I should quit; maybe I should stay home to be a Mom.” And then, all of a sudden, there’s an email she gets or a call or somebody that she runs into out of the blue who says, “Your blog helped my life,” or “I went to AA today because of you.” That’s when I say, “Honey you’ve just got to keep your head down and show up everyday. Just keep writing, and show up. That is your gift and that is what’s helping people.”
What Glennon Says
D: I was glad to get Craig’s answer on that one. The reality, however, is slightly different, according to Glennon. She says he’s more than just a support system:
Glennon Melton: Most of the day consists of Craig trying to make “let’s make out” eye contact while I explain (without eye contact) how ludicrously busy I am. Also, my computer and I are allergic to each other. I hate it. It doesn’t work. Every time I try to post, it doesn’t work. My essay disappears. The fonts change. Pictures become gigantic. Etc Etc. I wail and pound my keyboard and Craig runs in and fixes whatever is happening with some gentle button pushing. This drives me mad, but he never loses patience. He does this every day. Without Craig, there would be no Momastery. There would just be a pile of unread essays on my floor.
Also, when I’m really tired and out of ideas, I can just post a shirtless picture of him and get ten times the reaction I get for my best writing.
Also, every time I leave the house, Craig stays by the phone to help me, because I get lost every day. Every. Day. I refuse to use my GPS because I am also allergic to it. I find it smug. So he stays with me on the phone until I get wherever I need to go. Truth.
What else? Lots of screaming (our girls hate each other right now- the Love Revolution has yet to penetrate the walls of our home.)
If Craig cooks, dinner is delicious. If I cook, everyone cries. Truth again.
Craig is a kite holder and I am a kite. He keeps me tied to the Earth, and I keep him busy and entertained. He likes to watch me flit around, and I trust him not to let me go.
Our Interview With Craig Continues…
Dadditudes: It seems to me that while there’s a lot of talk where as North Americans, we puff out our chests about how tolerant we are of other religions, Christianity is pretty much constantly under attack, and people are actually proud to embrace religious intolerance and hatred if it’s directed at Christians. But you figure out, within fifteen or twenty seconds of arriving at the Momastery site, that God plays a pretty massive role in your lives. Tell me about that.
Craig Melton: We’re on the more progressive side, I would say. We love God; we don’t understand everything about God – I don’t think anybody will – so we try to make our decisions based on what we think God would do. There are things in the Bible that we question, so we’re not always agreeing with everything that the Bible says because it was written a long time ago, and without going too far into it, that’s kind of our philosophy. We try to teach our kids that it’s okay to question some things out there and make your own decisions. But there are days where we feel like we’re mad at God for some of His decisions; you know, some things that happened in our life – why did that happen? We try to seek God in all of our decisions, but do we always do that? No. It’s not every single time that I pray before the meal; there’s a lot of times I could be seeking God for everyday things and for some decisions that I make but …
She grew up Catholic, and I grew up in a Baptist family so we’ve got a good understanding of God, but I think once you get older it’s good to kind of evolve that and challenge that. You know, she’s not Catholic anymore, I’m not Baptist anymore; our last church we went to a Presbyterian church – it doesn’t mean that we agreed one hundred percent on everything. We tried to challenge ourselves in everyday actions and the things that we do and sometimes really just dive into scripture and say “Well what does that mean to us?”
It’s kind of a hard question – we don’t understand, but we do know that God helps steer our decisions when we seek God. He’s letting this Momastery thing take off in whatever way it’s going and only He knows where it’s going to end up. We just try to make sure that were doing the right thing based on our principles and our values and what we understand of what it means to be a son or daughter of God.
D: So I know that things haven’t progressed to a point where you can’t walk into a Walgreens without being accosted by fans or anything like that, but I’m sure that from time to time, somebody must spot you, or reach out to contact you. When that happens, what are people saying?
CM: Well it’s always positive so far; we’re down in Florida now so we haven’t had the response that we had in Virginia yet, but I’m sure once the book comes out that’ll change. In Virginia, when I met someone brand new that came up and said, “Are you Craig Melton from Momastery?” it was always positive. It was always somebody really positive just saying, “I followed your wife’s blog,” or if we were both out and they came up, it was always really favorable.
So it was flattering and I’d just smile and say, “Yeah, that’s me,” and it’s always been a good conversation. They appreciate me supporting her, I guess, is the biggest thing they told me. You know, when I wish her ‘good luck’ on a post, or she’s doing a speaking thing and I say “good luck to you,” she says, “No, good luck to US,” because she credits me for supporting her. And I’m like, “that’s what I’m supposed to do, I’m your husband,” you know? So when I’m out, it’s just been people thanking me for supporting her so she can go out there and reach out to people and help others – that’s been the gist of it.
D: So is there a “Dadastery” in your future? Do you ever think about trying to replicate what she does, for men and Dads?
CM: It hasn’t really crossed my mind; sometimes she’s like, “I want you to be a guest writer”. And I’m not an introvert by any means, but sometimes I think I am. I think this blog makes me become a little bit more quiet and reserved just because everything is out there, you know? So I want to protect the kids’ privacy little bit, or some things about us, so it’s kind of done the opposite to me; it hasn’t really made me want to go out and speak my point of view. I’m not sure why, maybe it’s my lack of confidence in being a good writer; I mean she’s got a brilliant talent, and that is not my thing. I’m a software sales guy. So my job is to sell software and have relationships with my customers and such. It might be just a little bit of insecurity and also just the fact that everything is out there, so what else could I provide?
Momastery for me, is like a reflection, I look at MY self and think, “Dang, what are some of my shortcomings, and what can I do to either forgive others or to seek help in any way with any issues that I have…” So it’s changed my life too. I look at what other people are going through and other people ‘s issues, things about recovery and healing. and I think those are the ones that just make it real for me, and for her, and I think for other people too. And I just want to go on supporting her, and helping her take it wherever God wants it to go.