Saturday, January 19, 2013

Guilty As Charged

So it seems that this blog has become the anti-blog, the place where I rally against other random points of view. The other day my target was Mayim Biyalik and her tirade against TV and today I am stuck on another fascinating piece that ran in The Atlantic a few days ago. The title: “The Ethical Implications of Parents Writing about Their Kids.[1]” The author, Phoebe Maltz Bovy, argues that a new genre has arisen of women and men who over share about their children’s lives, subsequently humiliating them and violating their privacy at the same time. As you can imagine, the essay hit home with me. In more ways than one I suppose I am complicit in Bovy’s argument and at first I had a rather strong knee-jerk “this is crap!” type reaction to it. And then I thought more on it. And you know what? Her point really is crap and I’m going to tell you why.

Folks like Erma Bombeck and Bill Keane and countless others have used their children and family as fodder for their work and columns and cartoons for decades. These private anecdotes were put out there for mass consumption and the only thing that is different between now and then is the speed at which these pieces can be shared. The idea of mass consumption of private family experiences that make us laugh and cry and learn and grow is hardly a new one. The reality is that these and other great writers and artists wrote about what they knew and when you are in the trenches of full-time motherhood or parenthood the bulk of those experiences can be about your children and your family. How you manage life with them, because of them, in spite of them?  Realistically about 93% of my day is spent with my children or doing things to help my children or my family. I do not expect it will always be that way. But that is my current reality. If I wrote exclusively about the fraction of time leftover that is solely about my own time and travails, this is roughly what it would look like:
7:00AM: open eyelids

7:32-7:39AM: shower/shave legs

12:00-12:15PM: eat lunch

8:40PM: floss

9-10PM: read, watch DVRd Parenthood and Shahs of Sunset, blackout
So juicy right! The bulk of the interesting stuff in my life right now involves my kids. This is a full-time job unlike any I’ve ever had. And it’s not like I can swivel around at my desk, turn to another mom in her cube and say, “Man, I really got my ass handed to me in that potty training session!” And she would laugh and we would laugh together and I would feel better knowing she understood what I was going through. Nope. It just doesn’t work that way. I am in my house and my friend is in her apartment with her twin babies and someone else is in their log cabin – whatever! We all need each other and these words and blogs help to connect us and make us feel that we are not alone.

In this way I am grateful to those who have come before and continue still to bare testament to the brutal truth that is parenthood. It is my modern day water cooler. I pull up a chair, sit down and type, “Jesus, you will not believe what I found in Ruby’s nose today!” And somewhere across the universe another mother will hear and answer and we will laugh and share and learn, using the power of our words to share experiences, and even find some humor while doing the hardest damn job we’ve ever done.  Sometimes, a mother or parent will share something funny. Sometimes it will be raw. Either way, it will be real and the importance of sharing it will both in part free her from the burden of carrying it alone and maybe even inform or help hers or someone’s kids. It is a legacy of honesty – when it’s funny and even when it hurts. This is a legacy I want my children to inherit.



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