There are things I don't write about.

There are things I don't write about, but not for lack of trying.

Some post ideas appear like butterflies, fluttering around my head. An image. A phrase. An idea. They often come at inopportune times. While I'm driving. At the playground. When nursing an infant and reading to a preschooler. They leave me quickly, like a dream that falls away upon awaking, lost forever. I try to remember them later, when I'm finally sitting in front of my computer. I usually fail.

There are things I don't write....

Some things start out making sense, feeling interesting. Then I sit down to write about them and they... bore me. The end.

There are things I don't write about, because they are no longer true.

Sometimes I start to write a post and it takes awhile to craft it into anything that makes sense. By the time I finish it, the emotions and behaviors may not be true anymore, as if the act of crafting the ideas into words and paragraphs washes the former reality away.

There are things I don't write about, because I need to learn the limits of oversharing.

Some ideas come to me and feel.... charged. I mull them over. Too darkly personal? Too annoyingly whiny? Too schmaltzy? Too revealing?

This isn't your diary
, I have to remind myself repeatedly. Your family reads it. Strangers read it. Your husband's college buddies read it. Your former boss reads it.

One day, your daughters will read it .

There are things I don't write about, because I shouldn't.

Some stories aren't mine to tell.

That's the current rub.

What's mine to tell and what isn't is getting harder to figure out the older my girls get.

Zoe used to feel so much a part of me that my comfort sharing anything and everything with the Internet extended to her, in my mind. Now I realize that this isn't fair.

I'm sad to say that this profound and simple truth is only recently dawning on me: my daughters aren't a part of me, nor are they an extension of me no matter how possessive I may feel or how mushy my boundaries can sometimes be. They are their own people; people who will be growing up in an internet age that naive little me can barely imagine, let alone comprehend all the potential pitfalls. CG reminds me frequently that everything I write here will be out there forever. I feel sick when I think about the possibility of my girls being teased on the playground about the words I type here in what sometimes feels like a self-centered exercise of self expression and memory-keeping.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately. After reading some very personal and explicit blog posts from other mothers. (No, not you, lovely readers. You are the reason I read blogs in the first place.) After reading a father's memoir of his teenage daughter's first psychotic episode this summer. After reading the reviews and criticisms of a mother's memoir about her son's drug abuse. These authors have large audiences and they write about the darkest moments of their children's lives, laying out all their dirty laundry for anyone to see.

I love memoirs; I gravitate toward truth-telling stories whether they are written on the page or blogged on the web. The deeply personal posts on many of my favorite blogs stay with me, reminding me that I am not alone in this universal struggle to be a good mother. This summer I devoured "Hurry Down Sunshine" and "Beautiful Boy", both haunting and gorgeously written tales of the kind of dark days of parenthood that I hope I never learn about first hand. Still I find myself wondering about the limits of parental sharing. Are these books beautiful art? Educational missives? Dark moments of someone else's life that are too personal to be shared?

Where is the line between our stories and our children's stories? How can we speak our own truth when it is so often bound up in the lives of our children?

Should I have given my girls pseudonyms on this blog? Probably, but it's a little too late for that now. I have decided though that from here on out, I will use the initials Z and E when telling stories about my girls. The Google searches with their names will not have as many hits that way, says my tech savvy husband. This nod to their privacy seems like the least I can do.

Most importantly, I vow to write with their future selves in mind. I want them to be proud of what they read about themselves and their clueless but oh-so-very-hopeful mother.


Marie Green said...

The internet is weird. I wonder if my girls will ever find my blog, or ever want to, or whatever... something to think about FOR SURE.

Michelle said...

Yes. Sometimes I feel like I'm putting myself out there too much when I write and want to pull back. It's so hard. We started our blog as a way to share our stories but also connect with other mothers. I wanted new mothers to know they weren't alone. But I'm realizing some stories need to be just for our family and not the whole world.

Marianne said...

I agree completely. I don't think I was ever able to find that balance myself.

artemisia said...

This is an important question. I am currently struggling with the same thing, especially with my newly created CrazyBlog.

What is mine to tell, and what is someone else's story?

Hillary said...

Those darn google searches are exactly why I don't use the boys' names on the blog, though sometimes I feel silly when so many of the people who read know their names. Sometimes I feel silly for writing at all, but mostly, I feel a need to write. I spend all day writing very specific things in a very specific way, and blogging is a way for me to practice just writing.

Existential Waitress said...

This is something that I have really struggled with too. There have been many times that I have sat down to write about subjects such as our continuing struggle with my son's toilet issues - but I realize this isn't fair to him and potentially extremely embarrassing. It's hard to know where to draw the line. This is something that I've been thinking a lot about lately.

Grateful Twin Mom said...

I really like the part when you said that your children don't belong to you. I really struggle with that. (See my latest post...) That's so hard to fathom. How do we guide them, talk about them, write about them as they grow? You have definitely touched on something we all need to think about. And, I too read Beautiful Boy and I was struck by the part when he says don't tell your children about your own youthful indiscretions. Lie to them. Not looking forward to that conversation.

Whimsy said...

This is something I've been struggling with lately too - you've given me a lot to think about, and as always, in the most beautiful and eloquent way.

Thank you.

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