Treading Water

I don’t actually know why we bother to say that we’re busy.  I think what we mean to say is simply that we’re living.  Keeping on keeping on, and all that.

With that said, here’s the usual saw: it’s mostly been busy, but in a good way.  Busy with bachelorette pool parties, camping, Father’s Day surprise getaways, Mendocino wedding festivities, long drives to Tahoe with chocolate milkshakes to keep us cool.  Busy sneaking in the first half of the USA-Germany match and a Bloody Mary before work.  Busy with work travel (the Husband), and then work transitions (me) and a crazy new venture (more later).  Busy with first martial arts (LittleMan aka LittleNinja) and first ballet (Babygirl) and swim lessons and waterslides.

(By the by, for musings on summer wardrobe options for this crazy life, you can scope out my recent Nest Studio posts here, here, and here.)

But there is more than one side to every story and that is true of this one.

The other side of the story is more complex and internal.

The other side of the story is that this blogger has been facing something of an existential crisis this spring, which has probably been hinted at here and there, but largely went a long time both unformed and unnamed.  I simply didn’t have the stomach or the spirit to write one more post about, well, being busy, for one thing.  But also about discipline or figuring out how to get LittleMan to ingest vegetables or how hard it is to juggle the demands of two post-toddler children or how often I wonder if I’m doing the right thing and being the best mommy.

It’s not that funny things haven’t happened.  It’s not that we haven’t experienced joy. I know there is at least some meat buried in that exercise in controlled chaos that is our home when one parent is traveling.  It’s just that there was something in the way of putting it down on paper (by which of course I mean NOT on paper, but on a machine).  Something keeping me from taking these snapshots and turning them into a narrative.

In the quiet of the writer’s block I began to question the purpose of this exercise in general, and then the wisdom of it, and finally the appropriateness of it.  We live in this age of so much overshare, and I’ve started to wonder if I want to contribute to this #nofilter culture anymore at all.  Is it good for me?  And more importantly, is it good for my children?

I had coffee back in January with a friend who relayed a story about how, on New Year’s Day, she and her daughter had had a blowout fight over whether the mother was allowed to post pictures from their little at-home New Years Eve party on Facebook.  “I look silly in everything you post!” the girl had wailed.  “You are ADORABLE!  You look like you are having FUN!” the mother had protested.  “You can’t post silly pictures of me anymore!” the child had insisted.

“That’s fascinating,” was my first response.  “That she even understands how public it is.  I mean, it’s good, I guess, to be so aware.  But also kind of sad.  She’s so young.  So what did you do?”

My friend shrugged.  “I took the pictures down,” she said, taking a sip of coffee.  “I mean, it’s her face, it’s her life, I guess.  It doesn’t mean that much to me if it bothers her.”

The conversation has been haunting me.  It is a funny thing, to be mothers online as our children begin to self-actualize.  We will literally be the first generation of parents whose cyber-reputations precede our offspring.  Lately I wonder if I have exposed my children by writing about them.  Even if I limit myself, how can I continue to write about the experience of being a mother — my experience — without crossing that vague, vague line into their lives, their personas?  I am only a mother because of them: online, as in life, we will continue to define one another, now and ten years from now.  My gut tells me to tread lightly.

Which leaves us…where?

A colleague of mine started casually reading this blog a few years ago and occasionally he asks me about my process (so lofty, to have a process!).  He muses: “While I’m reading, it seems honest,  but also crafted, and I start to wonder what you’re NOT saying, what you are filtering out.  I wonder what you’d write if you thought no one was reading.”

The answer is that I do, actually.  Write when no one is reading, I mean.  The back room of Blogger is littered with the unpublished and the unfinished, the decidedly mediocre, the sometimes inappropriate, the too-maudlin, the too-personal.

There lingers there, from sometime in mid-June, a post I have written but will never publish.  It tells the third side of this story, the sensitive side, the side that keeps me up at night.  The great revelation, the great responsibility, the task at hand.

The power of what is left unsaid is sometimes enough to stop us in our tracks.

The narrative will come, as it always does.  But for a time I write where no one is looking.  Until the dust clears and I can see where we stand.

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