January 29 13

Yes. I do. I write about my children.

Actually, if I’m being honest, what I really write about is myself.

Reads a bit narcissistic, though, doesn’t it. I write about me! All the time! Come and read about me! I’m so awesome! But, again, when we’re throwing that whole truthtelling thing into the equation, writing my story out on the very public internet has shades of narcissism in there. But I’m a writer, I always have been.

It started in second grade when I created the spiral-bound book about my life using mice made out of a stamp pad and my thumbprints. Really. And then I moved on to short stories that had no endings, then on to poetry about 13-year-old unrequited love, and then into half-written novels shelved because the fictional characters resembled real-life people just a wee bit too much, and then onto blogging, which has been my writing platform since 2004.

Storytelling.

So, yes, while this isn’t a parenting blog per se, because I write about all sorts of exciting things in this space like about reading books while making dinner, like my legging police badge and my crusade to eradicate the awful, awful epidemic of wearing leggings as pants, like my life-long goal to stop being the Phyllis Nefler of exercising and how I have a semi-permanent case of the spaghetti arms and jelly legs. Yes. Not exactly a parenting blog. But, you see, the thing is, I am a parent. I have been one since my first baby girl made her slllllow and stubborn debut (two days of labor, yo!) into this world.

Because I am a parent, it would be impossible to tell MY story without telling their story, at least bits and pieces of it—the 15% I’m willing to share. I tell their story as it is through MY eyes. I write about how I see them, what makes them special, what makes them hilarious, what makes me worry, what makes me wonder. I am careful and I walk a fine line with them, especially as my daughter is inching closer to being a full-fledged teenager. I check in with them, I ask them about stories I may not be sure about.

I have read so many posts recently about my friends, my fellow writers, struggling with this changing blogging landscape. As their children are getting older, as their children’s stories are becoming more “theirs,” many writers wonder if they choose to no longer continue to write about their children would they still be considered parenting bloggers. Many writers have become fatigued, and some have even stopped writing altogether.

And I get their struggles, their desires to re-navigate, their fatigue, their questions. For them.

But not for me.

I still write about my children.

I’m okay with it.

They are okay with it.

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You see, I don’t really *know* my mother. I mean, sure, I know her as my mother the MOM, but I don’t know her as my mother, the person, the lady, the woman. Sometimes I come across photos of her when she was younger—on a boat in a floral bikini, in a photobooth looking incredibly Audrey Hepburn, standing in front of the house I grew up in—when it was just a patch of empty land, watching my sister perform in a ballet recital, wearing a cap and gown while holding up a diploma.

mom-graduation

I can’t help but wonder about these photos—where she was going, who she was with, how she felt that day, who took that particular shot of her. I have no answers to these questions; I just have a box of snapshots.

There are no stories.

God, do I wish I had her stories.

I wish I knew her. Her thoughts, her hopes, her dreams, her struggles.

Essentially, I wish my mom had a blog of her life before I was born, while I was young, and while I was no longer young. I wish my mom had been a storyteller.  I spent so much time as a kid expecting that the world revolved around me—I mean, isn’t that how kids are supposed to be? But I never stopped to think about how the things that were important to me affected her. Did it break her heart when I quit ballet after ten years in a tutu (I’m sure it did), did she stress about carpool and tuition payments and playdates and religion and decorating her house and packing school lunches (I’m sure she did), did she struggle with my adolescence (I’m sure she did), did she worry about sending me to high school in another city (I’m sure she did).

I wish I could read those feelings, thoughts, struggles, stories.

I wish I had record of silly and ridiculous things that I and my siblings said as kids.

I wish I knew what her pregnancy with me was like, how her first days with me were, what is was like getting to know me.

I wish she had been the storyteller that I am right now.

I wish I knew who she was THEN.

Because I think it would really help me know her NOW.

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I want my children to know me—both as their Mama and as ALI.

And I think they will.

I know they will.

 

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  1. I love this perspective so much. Thank-you for sharing Ali!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Tarasview on January 29, 2013
  2. Oh, Ali, this is/was beautiful. Incredible. Wishing for stories…the number of photos I mooned over as I grew up, waiting and hoping that the emotions of that moment would whisper themselves to me. You just nail it here.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Amanda on January 29, 2013
  3. What a great post. I agree with all of it. I know my mother fairly well, but wouldn’t it be nice to see how she felt when we were young.

    Jenn

    [Reply]

    Comment by Jenn on January 29, 2013
  4. I love this post! Some people comment on blogging being so narcissistic and should I hear that again I would direct them here…it really is a wonderful gift for your kids to get to reflect on their youth and who “Mom” actually is. Plus in the meantime you entertain many and let people (cough, me) realize that other people are delightfully different as well…(I ruined kraft dinner the other night because I was trying to finish a novel on my iPhone)

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    Comment by Jules on January 29, 2013
  5. so beautiful. I love that idea and have been writing letters to my kids for years and keeping them for them…..sadly as I get older i keep forgetting where i put them!!!!

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    Comment by karen on January 29, 2013
  6. Great post! I’ve never thought about it like that. What a great treasure for them to have as they get older and have kids of their own!

    It’s hard, I would imagine, deciding what to share on this public space. But there is a way to do it without embarrassing them or giving fodder to potential bullies.

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    Comment by Kristabella on January 29, 2013
  7. Great post.

    Ask her who she is. Send her this blog post.

    I had a similar conversation with my mother five years ago that yielded an amazing discovery. It was great, really. Even her truths that were difficult to digest served as tools that helped me to soften my judgement and deepen my respect for both her and my father.

    I think that it is important to see our parents as parents when they need to be just that. However, I genuinely feel that seeing them both as real people has helped me become a better one.

    Good luck.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Rae Ann on January 29, 2013
  8. I too wonder if what I share is too much for the future but then I guess, I never did baby books for them. They now can have account of their lives. Even if it’s just a minor snapshot into what really happened.

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    Comment by gorillabuns on January 29, 2013
  9. YES. This. I want my kids to know ME and how I saw them and the bits and pieces of their lives through my eyes.

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    Comment by pgoodness on January 29, 2013
  10. This was a great post. I can honestly say I continue to read your posts because when you talk about your kids you’re honest, but you also limit yourself. I don’t get the impression that it’s easy all the time, or that your kids are always perfect angels, but you have a great balance of sharing without oversharing.
    I like this perspective :)

    [Reply]

    Comment by Laural on January 29, 2013
  11. I love the 15% of your life you do share with us. And I’ve always felt you’ve done a wonderful job of including your kids in this space. In regards to what you share about them, I’ve never once thought, “Whoa, she took that too far.” The stories you tell are something your kids will treasure forever.

    [Reply]

    Comment by aly on January 29, 2013
  12. I love this. And you’re right; it IS about us. It’s about providing our children with a glimpse into us, the women behind the name mom. Sure, my kids will probably glimpse a whole lotta ‘the person who bore me is certifiable’ but hey, at least I will have told them about my crazy to the best of my ability. And they’ll have my memories, they’ll have a reference (seeing how there are devil nurses all over the world stealing first time mothers’ Handbooks To The Baby.) It’s not about divulging anything embarrassing; it’s about their becoming adults (or hell, even teens who one day decide to give a damn about why their mom said no to something) and relating to us in a way that only OUR words, OUR voices, can provide. OUR CHILDREN SHOULD THANK US.

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    Comment by Arnebya on January 29, 2013
  13. This is why I adore you. xo

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    Comment by Sharon on January 29, 2013
  14. What a lovely post. I think you do a great job of talking about your life with your kids without making it all about the kids. Like someone said above, sharing without oversharing. I hope your kids enjoy the insight into your lives as a family when they’re older.

    The stories we tell truly are a gift.

    [Reply]

    Comment by melissa on January 29, 2013
  15. I’m assuming it wouldn’t be okay if I cut this post and paste on jodifur? B/c yes. To all of it. As Michael has gotten older I’ve become more cognizant of what I share…but I still share. B/c jodifur is about me. It’s not a “brand” or a “lifestyle blog,” it is just about me. And so much of me is parenting.

    So yes, to all of it.

    [Reply]

    Comment by jodifur on January 29, 2013
  16. I am trying to embrace my inner narcissist.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Amanda on January 29, 2013
  17. Yes, yes, yes, yes, YES. All the yesses.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Jen Wilson on January 30, 2013
  18. wow…what a great post! You are so right about the storytelling. I write about my kids but not exclusively. I write about our lives. It is so true… I wish I knew more about my Mom’s thoughts, dreams, feelings when we were younger, when I was growing up, becoming the woman and mother I am now.

    I don’t think it is a bad thing to write about my kids. It is the story of our lives.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Christy laverty on February 1, 2013
  19. [...] in my brain. I’m beginning to rethink that after I read Ali Martell’s recent post Why I Write About My Children. Yes, I think I will start to share more, if only that my children have a record of their [...]

    Pingback by Ten Blogs February 10, 2013 on February 10, 2013
  20. Amen. And me too. xoxo

    [Reply]

    Comment by Angella on January 30, 2015
  21. This, too, is why I keep my blog. Great perspective. Thank you for sharing :)

    [Reply]

    Comment by Katrina on February 2, 2015
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