Monday, October 19, 2009

Writing your child's story

I've been posting a little less often lately, and it isn't for lack of things to write about. Le Petit has been doing more amazing and wonderful things than ever, and much of it is worthy of recording, at least in my biased opinion. But at the same time, as he grows and asserts his independence, I'm reminded that in some ways, his story isn't mine to tell.

When he was an infant and our identities were strangely and temporarily intermeshed, I had no trouble writing about him even in the first person. Now I worry what he'll think when he's teenager and he reclaims my narrative. I know there are some things I can't write about, like potty training, no matter how funny and noteworthy they seem to me right now. There are other things that I think will be OK -- his firsts, his language acquisition -- but how do I know?

I've stumbled across a lot of discussion about this issue around the web, I can't always remember where, but one of the most thoughtful posts I found here. That particular blogger writes eloquently about her family's two open adoptions, and our family story is less complex, with fewer actors, but some her concerns are mine. I too try to assume that everyone I write about will some day read what I've written. Including le Petit. Especially le Petit.

What I want him to take away from my blog when he reads it all those years in the future is that I felt excited and privileged to watch as he grew, learned about the world, and discovered the amazing person he is. It sounds pretty cheesy typed like that, but I'm not sure how else to say it. This blog is the diary of his biggest fan.

What I don't want him to feel is that I packaged his childhood for mass consumption, that I took the best bits and marketed them to an anonymous Internet audience. But I guess I'm doing that, too. After all, I write posts to be funny, or to resonate with other moms, and I relish the comments and feedback I get.

I'm walking a fine line, and as le Petit gets older, I'll have to make even more of an effort to err on the side of keeping my mouth shut. Alas, this is not something that comes naturally to me, either in text or in 'real life.' I need to remember to keep this blog about me. I write for myself. I write about le Petit as I'd want someone to write about me. Though perhaps it's a good thing there were no blogs around in 1976.

I know many of my readers are blogging mothers, too, or spend time reading other moms' blogs. What are your thoughts?


Mom in France said...

Hi PmP -

I thought about this issue at the very beginning, thinking that I was partially motivated by preserving these early experiences for Boo.

Later on, though, I realize that Boo (and now Little Guy) are only two readers of the several, and that really I write for myself and the current readers, not for the kids.

I don't mind potty training stories (though I might not use pictures) or other small kid stuff to be embarrassed about later. And really, who knows what will happen with the technology and all this written stuff anyway 10-20 years down the line.

The only thing I refuse to do is to criticize them or E on my blog. As my aunt told her husband when he started one: Say only positive things!

caramama said...

I've been thinking about this for a few days now. I think for me, I try to write it all--well most of it. My blog has the same stories that I'm telling my friends and family about, so it seems the same to me to write it on the internet. I write the good, the bad, the potty training and the cute things she (and eventually they) say.

But I do it not just to share with friends and family and random internet strangers. I do it for two additional reasons that I can think of:

1. I don't seem to have a great memory for details of what happened. I'm good at remembering feelings, emotions and generally what went on. But I don't remember all those cute stories that other people seem to have no problem recounting. So I write them. That way, as my kids get older, I can pull out the written stories and tell them the stories.

2. I have found some of this parenting gig to be so hard and full of things that no one told me about that I want others to be able to find my blog and realize that they aren't alone.

There are probably more reasons, but those are the big ones.

Angie said...

This is an interesting point of view that I didn't really consider. My family is spread out, so I have locked mine down with passwords so that I can post all the pretty pictures I want. I too tend to write what I would tell you if you happened to call me that day - but never criticize family or friends, as irritations fade but writing is forever. That forever aspect is great when it's cute-isms like how she says "babing suit," etc.