Still somewhere over the rainbow, waiting for right moment (departure of Air Canada flight, Friday afternoon) to click heels and go home. Where, hopefully, sleepful nights (and other nice things, like husbandly company and, um, blogging) will resume.
But will miss this Oz, despite the challenges of our journey here…
I did not think that travelling and spending time with family would have such a negative effect on the blogging.
I thought that travel, and the visit home, would provide so much fodder. There would be so many stories. So many photos. So much to record and share and dissect. But I got derailed. First, by simply not having regular access to the necessary technology/connections/what-have-you. Secondly, but more thoroughly, by becoming overwhelmed by the weight of my stories, made heavier by the thoughts and feelings provoked by family.
I was tempted to beging this post by saying that I have never been more personal, in this space, than I was the other day, posting about my conflicted feelings over posting about my conflicted feelings about family. But that would not have been true. I have discussed my struggle with post-partum depression, and the professional challenges that I faced because of that depression. I have written about my discomfort with my post-partum body. I have written about my resistance (now well overcome) to singing songs about vaginas. (Sorry, vulvas. Vulvae?)
If anything, I have shared too much. But I have shared about me, and about my daughter, and my husband, and the family that we three are. I have avoided, for the most part, saying much about friends and family. I have avoided doing so because I have felt – do feel – that I do not have the right to tell their stories. The only stories that I tell here are my own, and those of my daughter. The stories of the family that we are, and are becoming. There have been and will be times when loved ones will appear in these stories, but these are only appearances, carefully situated within the context of the stories that are mine. Their own stories are just that, their own, and so theirs, and only theirs, to tell.
My struggle in my last post was not whether or not to reveal personal details about members of my family – that was never at issue. It was whether or not to frankly discuss the feelings – the anxieties – provoked by my family. Part of the difficulty here, obviously, is that in admitting to such anxieties I am already revealing much – possibly too much – about my family. And this was where I got blocked. I needed and wanted to express and record – to write – my worry about my family, and in particular about my parents. My concern that they be well and happy and healthy and whole. My anxiety that they might not be. My helplessness in the face of their struggles.
But expressing this anxiety, these concerns, reveals my family as imperfect, my parents as vulnerable. And perhaps it is not my place to tell stories that reveal that much about them. Perhaps it is unfair, to my parents and to my family more generally, to put it out to the world that my family is flawed. So flawed that I have spent many a night awake, racked with worry about its well-being. About my parents’ well-being. This may be unfair because in admitting to this worry, the world – or that very small share of the world that reads this blog – is compelled in some way to view my parents in the light of that worry. As (merely) the objects of my concern and anxiety, rather than as the wise and kind and wonderful people that they are. The whole beings that they are.
But my worry is my worry, and is part of my story – this story that I keep harping on about – and is part of my coming-to-terms with being a parent myself. Part of the process, for me, of figuring out what it means to be a mother has involved figuring out what it means to be a daughter. Am I to my parents what my daughter is to me? How do I see my parents? Love my parents? Will my daughter see me and love me the same way? And – what does it mean when the current of care changes between children and parents? When children begin to worry more about their parents than their parents worry about them? How, when and why will WonderBaby worry about me?
I know, I know – one might say that it’s too early to be fussing about this. But I don’t think that it is. I am a daughter right now, and a parent right now, and I have I’ll Love You Forever on the bookshelf right now. Right now I am caught up in all of the emotion of new parenthood and old childhood and the clash of these storms creates a beautiful but startling lightning.
I write through the storm.
So: I love my parents. Desperately. They are wonderful, beautiful people who gave me a wonderful, beautiful childhood. They will forever be wonderful, beautiful people, to me and to their family and to all who know them. And they both of them make the world a better place for being in it. But they have their struggles, as all real human beings do, and I worry. I worry because they are not together, as they should be. As, in a different, better, easier world, they could be (I know, this is the lament of every child of divorce. But in their case it is true true true true. Oh, the bitter sweetness of this truth.) I want to take care of them, to make sure that they are both happy and healthy and without cares. They would both insist that I am not to worry. They would say, will say, that they don’t want me to worry, that I needn’t worry, that there is nothing to worry about. My mother, I’m sure, will read this and protest out loud, to herself and, later, to me. But this is a daughter’s story about her parents and worry for her parents.
So this is personal. My story about my parents. It’s only my story. But it’s real. One day WonderBaby will have her stories about me, and I will want her to feel free to fully explore those stories, regardless of whether or not I agree with them. I will never want her to worry about me or her father, never want her to be sad for either of us, for any reason. I want her always to see us and feel us as powerful, happy, whole. But I also know that that’s not possible, that one day, inevitably, she will see our vulnerability, and be frightened. For herself, and for us. And when she does, I hope that she finds a place to put that fear and understand that fear.
I hope that she tells that fear, as a story. And that in telling it, understands it, and accepts it.
That’s what I’m trying to do.