I write for our children. You will never find a political post or a ranting opinion piece on my blog. Our kids know my politics. Instead, I want to capture our routines and quirks. Most of life is made up of the space between the big events. Writing is my way to tend to the quieter moments, the ones not captured in shiny smiling pictures. Our story lines may be unique to our family but the emotions are universal.
My blog is a reflection of my more adult parenting self. I recently destroyed the remaining journals from my twenties. When we moved I found the box with my young self’s painful scribble. I knew it was inevitable that at some point my kids would find the collection of notebooks. I decided it was not appropriate for them to ever read through that emotional sloppiness. It’s not that I want to sanitized my past – it’s more that I’m certain my history can offer them more coming from my present vantage point.
It doesn’t matter how old we get, we all want our parents to hold a space that is safe. Those journals were not safe. I kept them all these years to occasionally revisit and shed when I was ready. I have let go. It was good parenting to do so. The words that I write in this blog will wrap around my children like the strong fifty-year-old mother that I am now. A safe place to return that will be familiar to them in the future in a manner they can not truly understand today.
Memory is a trickster, a concoction of experience, emotion and exquisite brain chemistry that can wash over the same event to create as varied interpretations as found from any Rorschach Test. My earliest memory is of brilliant pulsating sunshine coming through the windows as I lay in a crib. It’s my only pre-verbal memory and there is a physicality to it that is different. It is our job as parents to be the keepers of our kids’ early memories. Those memories are a part of our identity as parents but more distant and murky for kids, like grabbing at laughter, a taste of sweetness or the warmth of the sun. Our recollections can fill in the blanks of their early lives. As they enter their teens and adulthood they move in more differentiated spheres and the roles reverse. They fill in the blanks for us, if they choose.
I do not pretend to represent my kids’ feelings but I can steward our stories through my filter. My rendition may be exactly as they remember or terribly skewed, but nonetheless, it will help to anchor them to their own version. They will also understand me better in the process. Our stories hold how we have learned to accept, adapt and evolve. My hope is that within these quiet essays they find reason both to celebrate and forgive as they move through their own understanding of how to create their lives. We are in a constant balance act of trying to understanding where we came from and deciding where to go.
I write now because I am almost fifty and life is uncertain. When I was ten, I used to lie in bed and do the math on how much time I had to live. It calmed my newly-developed fear of death. Today I play the same game. If I am lucky enough to live into my eighties or nineties my children will be in their forties or fifties – my age now.
I’m finding the passage into my fifties to be remarkably opaque. I want to be around to guide my kids through their transition into their fifth decade but there are no guarantees and the fact of the matter is that I will be very old. I blog to help preserve our story while it is still fresh in my mind and held together with functioning brain chemistry and decent recall. Most of all I want them to read how much I love them, as flawed as it may be at times. In the end it’s all that matters.
I took the photo at the Biltmore Estate, Asheville, NC.