The Blog-versation

Some parents would never consider blogging about their kids

If you didn’t catch the beginning of our blog-versation, and you’re just “tuning in” now. Here’s what’s up:  Alle (link to her blog) and I are having a “healthy, respectful debate” about the virtue or vice of writing/blogging about one’s children. It started a month ago or so when I saw a post she wrote on this topic.

I have to admit that its kind of weird to see something written about me, my blogging and my parenting! And, I want to immediately express my gratitude to Alle for her kind comments about the latter.

When Alle and I were discussing this idea, I told her that my biggest concern was not about which one of us was right or wrong, and how we could have a “healthy, respectful debate”, but that our opinions, while seemingly divergent, might actually be too close together for it to be considered a debate. That said, I still disagree with her that writing about one’s children is a bad idea – depending on the context of that writing.

First of all, its important to note a relevant difference in parenting context between the two protagonists in this story. Alle’s children are pre-school and elementary ages. Mine are junior high, high school and college. When my kids were the ages of hers, the last thing I would have wanted to write about was my kids. I felt like my life had been consumed with parenting. At that time, people asked me why I didn’t use my background teaching french to teach it to children. I tried, briefly. Basically, I wanted to think about and do something other than be with young children, anything. I wanted to feel like I had a life other than them. Now that they are on their way “out of the nest”, I can think about parenting a little more objectively.

In her most recent post, Alle suggests that writing about my children means that I haven’t thought it through from their perspective. This is both true and not. In that statement lies the peril of writing about one’s children. I TRY to always think things through from their perspective. But, Alle makes a very good point. I haven’t thought it through from their perspective because I can’t! Its one of those fundamental truths. One can never think from another’s perspective. All I can do is try to imagine what their perspective is, and regarding the writing about them, how they would feel if they read what I wrote. That I do.

I write about my children as a part of my experiment to write directly, as closely as possible, from inside the experience of being a parent to my three kids. I decided to do this blog experiment publicly after talking to enough women who struggled, as I did, with the question “What do you do?” I didn’t know how prevalent the angst was among mothers my age until I started talking about it, so I decided to dive right into the question, explore it, wrestle it from the inside, and somehow make peace with it before the experience of being a stay-at-home mom was over. I figured that the daily exercise of photographing and writing about my own experience would yield an appreciation of its vicissitudes.

I couldn’t do this experiment without referencing my children, and writing, to a certain extent, about them. The real topic of this blog, however, is not my children, but my effort to understand the un-ease that often accompanies the role of the stay-at-home mom in light of my own experience.

I think the question that Alle poses is extremely relevant to my thesis. Alle writes: “Parents exist to meet the needs of their children, not the other way around.” I agree, and to the extent that my blog or anything I write makes my children uncomfortable, or in any way impinges on their lives, I am out of line. I am exploiting them for my own purposes.

If the blog itself becomes my answer to the question “What do I do?” Or, in other words, if I use it to make me important because I feel irrelevant as a stay-at-home mom, then I still haven’t wrestled with the demon that lies beneath it. I believe that it is this same demon that lies beneath the question Alle poses. Are we using our children to feel better about feeling irrelevant? If we write about our children, are we appropriating our children’s lives to feel better about the lack of value we perceive in our own? (In other posts, I delve deeply into the question of how we ascribe value in our culture, and how it negatively impacts the self-esteem of many women – particularly stay-at-home moms. You can look them up under the tag “value”)

When I write about my children, I ask myself these questions before I post: Why? To what end? Are you writing to make yourself feel important? If I write about witnessing my son score a goal in his soccer game, am I writing that because it taught me something about being a parent (the joy of watching your child succeed) or because I can parasitically usurp some of that success?  Can I be as present to my child in their struggles and see what they teach me about myself and parenting as when they succeed? Can I write about that experience with as much honesty and curiosity as I do about the successes?

If I catch myself feeling “special” due to something one of them has done, I now quickly look over my shoulder to see if anyone has caught me patching up a hole in my own self image with a bit stolen from one of my children instead of doing my own work.

Back to you Alle… or to you, “loyal and faithful” readers…


Advertisements

8 thoughts on “The Blog-versation

  1. I used to write about my daughter on my blog far more than I do now. For the first few years, the blog was officially anonymous, with everyone referenced having his or her own pseudonym. When I would write about her, it was often related to the work I was doing as a storyteller for children. However, as she’s gotten older, I’ve written about her less, because I have been concerned about boundaries and what is appropriate to write.

    Thanks to you and Alle for having this blog conversation!

    • Thanks for your comment and your input to the conversation. Boundaries are the big issue I was referring to in my post when mention “impinging on their lives”. Fortunately for me, my kids are pretty clear and comfortable with calling me out on boundary violations. They also encouraged me to write this blog so that they didn’t have to listen to my ideas and theories on the topic of stay-at-home moms all the time! That’s probably a big part of the reason I feel fairly free about referring to parenting episodes…

  2. Very interesting topic. I think it is up to everyone to decide what they want to do. I like to keep names out of my blog. But i think it depends that your purpose of our blog is. If you are tyring to get more readers some people say you have to be more personal.

    • Delishhh,
      Thanks for your comment. The question of names is a good one. I thought long and hard about that. I wondered if being as open and public as I’ve been was a good idea or a bad one. In the end, I chose to be public. I still don’t know if that was the “right” thing to do, but once I did it, there was no turning back. I do not name any names other than my immediate family. I’m very careful about my friends privacy and the privacy of my children’s friends. For some reason, my kids are game. They all have Facebook accounts and I think that what I write about in my blog is probably much less personal than what they put on Facebook.

      I also chose to be personal because I wanted to actually write from inside my experience and I figured that if I started making up names or not using them, I would be once removed from the immediacy of that experience.

      Again, its all an experiment, so I don’t have an answer for anyone but me, and next time I might do it differently.

      ~ Camille

  3. I love this conversation because it is a question that I have wrestled with over the past couple of years. I have a blog and I write about life as a parent of a child with Aspergers. Mostly, I do it to help others. The most helpful assistance I have received as a parent going through this is from other parents who have been through it. And those parents don’t necessarily know what information is helpful at what time. But I am just so glad they talk about it. I can take whatever information is helpful or relevant to me at the time. If something I say in my blog can be helpful to one parent, then it’s all worth it.
    I don’t use my son’s name in my blog. I don’t say where he goes to school. Not that that matters too much. I try to talk about “my son” or my experience as a parent. But, I often need to talk about very personal and private issues related to his condition. He is still very young. Some day he may not like the fact that I write about him. At that point, I will stop.
    Thanks for the conversation. Honestly, I am not 100% comfortable writing about my son. I wrestle with it constantly. But I feel I was chosen to be a mother of autism for a reason and part of that reason is to spread awareness, education and support.

    • Michelle,
      I greatly appreciate that you feel called to write about your experience as a parent in a challenging situation. That is exactly what inspired my blog… the challenge I felt that I shared with a number of other women. And, I knew that I had the guts to throw it down. Thus the honesty too… I knew that I had to be really honest and thrash a bit to “get to the bottom of it”, to flush out whatever demons had been at my heels for almost 20 years.

      I also really understand the desire to help other parents. I’m not sure that I’ve written about it in my blog, but my daughter has many severe food allergies. Over the years, I’ve received innumerable phone calls and emails from people who knew friends and acquaintances and knew about how we managed the allergies. I think I probably would have written a blog about it back then had that been an option. It would have been a good resource and I’m sure there are Moms who do it now.

      In any case, thanks so much for your thoughtful comment.

      I wish you the best,
      Camille

  4. How lovely, to see the “possession arrow” bounce between blogs. I am relieved to see we are all proceeding with respect. The last thing we need is everyone yelling their heads off with no one listening. We all know where Fox News is, right?

    That said, I am starting to feel the emotion as critical buttons get pushed. I hope to post tomorrow, in a well-stated y fashion designed to open up new lines of thought.

    Just in case you missed our lead-in: http://allehall.wordpress.com/

    Heart,
    Alle

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s