Growing up, our parents had very little to connect them to their childhood other than what was shared on the veranda. Gathered around each other, they recanted tales of life as it was to them, sometimes sifting through boxes of weathered Polaroids with ink stained dates on them. I grew up leafing through drawer fulls of bound albums in my grandparent’s living room, sitting cross-legged on the shag carpet staring at my aunts and uncles, my father as a child, imagining what it was like to be them. Every once in a while I’d peel off a hardened page protector and read a caption on the back of a photo, the smell of adhesive on my hands, each crinkling of the plastic whispering my history. We relied on subjective recounts of days nearly forgotten, triggered only by a faded memory. Every once in a while I’d stare at a picture of myself as a baby and dig deep to try and connect it to an emotion. “What was she feeling as she held me? Was I being a good girl that day at the beach?” Some of my questions had no answers, no pictures to help me make sense of things. Part of my life is a big ball of nothingness.
Our children, digital natives, will grow up very differently. Unless you’re a scrapbooking household, our children will have thousands of digital images saved on external hard drives. For the mommy bloggers out there, there will be archives of carefully crafted posts and commentary. As a blogger and a mother, I am careful about what and how much to publicly share. Careful and mindful. I do not want my blog to implode; to taint my children’s perceptions of me as a parent or diminish the value of their personal experiences growing up. What I want is for them to be able to look back as adults who shared the same home with me and see me as the woman I am now. When they are ready, when they are grown, when they are able to separate who they
wanted needed me to be and who I really was, they will have this blog. It will be filled with recipes, not just for food, but for life. I will write letters to them now that will make sense to them twenty years from now. If they ever wonder how much they meant to me, they won’t have to search too far to find out. They’ll chuckle through my highs, they’ll visit the valleys with me, they’ll squirm through my quirks and celebrate my triumphs with new eyes. Will it hurt them? I am sure it might, especially when they get to the hard months where there is silence on my blog…the months they’ll remember I couldn’t do much but cry myself. Will they hate me? I don’t know, I hope not. If my writing remains true to myself, the woman in my posts and the mommy they knew will be reflections of each other, one a little blurrier than the other, but one in the same.
As the world gathers round their computers to read about famed mommy blogger, Dooce’s separation, there is criticism about her laying it all out there for the world to see. Part of her popularity as a blogger can be blamed on our desire to peek through the windows of her life and watch safely as she unabashedly bares it all. We judge her for her honesty, her pain, her truth, tsk-tsking every time we log back in to her site. All from the comfort of our anonymity.
I log on to read her journey through this difficult time because it resonates deep within me. Her willingness to welcome me into her world, as difficult as it is, reminds me that I am human and that I survived the roller-coaster ride. More than anything, it validates everything I went through. Grief is messy. Life is messy. Grief and life are both temporary.
I wish I knew the woman who gave me life. I wish my memories didn’t consist of yellowing photographs that tell no story or the life she chooses to remember. Remembering none of it myself, I wish my mom had a blog.