My words have not been here as frequently as they once were, and I want you to know that it’s not because I’ve stopped writing them, but because the ground has become less certain, and I’m trying to find my footing on shifting sands.
This problem is hardly unique to me, but I’ve taken a bit of a break to wrestle internally with the dilemma of how to write memoir on a blog, especially when that memoir is so often about my children or issues stemming from parenting my children. You see, I harbor this delusion that it’s possible to write while protecting my children’s privacy as they grow older.
Yet my children themselves make it so difficult. Older tends to equal funnier, and I want to tell stories about the things they do and the problems they face, but I’m reluctant to write about their lives as much now that they’re in school. Things that happened when they were infants and toddlers were wonderful and hysterical and sometimes sad, but ultimately relatable to anyone who’s been a parent. It was ubiquitous humor. Now, they’re old enough that their problems and issues are their own, and I want to give them their privacy. (Online, anyway. I’ll be snooping through their rooms and reading any and all texts and emails until they leave the house.)
As I’ve grown as a writer, I’ve realized that though I have many stories, they’re not all mine to tell, no matter how much I’d like to have you pull up a chair and listen. None of us can write in a vacuum. All of my stories belong to me, yes, but they belong to other people, too. People who may remember them for different reasons, or differently all together. People who may not wish that the stories be told.
My children aren’t old enough yet to give me informed consent about whether certain of their stories should be told. I’ve only just begun to educate them about the permanence of the Internet and their online footprints.
There is no easy answer.
Several of my friends and acquaintances have recently decided to stop blogging, or are seriously considering it. It’s rare that a week goes by without hearing of another blogger saying goodbye.
I can understand why.
It’s exhausting, this writing in public thing, putting your thoughts out there for critique. Even if you begin with skin as thick as leather, other people’s opinions of your writing, and by extension, you, will start to have an effect. Discomfort squeezes in the cracks of your carefully crafted writer veneer, because writing memoir is a vulnerable business.
That said, I’m not going anywhere. Nor will I stop writing about my children entirely. Rather, I will consider carefully what I do choose to write, and pray that I choose the path that will one day make them happy to read my words.
As I watch the sand shift, I hope to find the the best way to shepherd my family in love and the best place to plant my words so that they’ll stand tall.
Happy New Year to all!