writing about our children

I wasn’t going to comment on the little controversy over that mom who wrote that Babble post that put forward that horribly awkward assertion that she loved her son more than her daughter, to the extent that she thought that ‘it wouldn’t be so bad’ if she lost daughter, so long as she didn’t lose her son. For one thing, I just can’t relate at all; the idea of losing either of my children fills me with such terror that I have to go sit down and breath deeply into a paper bag. I don’t even want to think about that fear, never mind poke at it and write about it. It’s too close to home. But, too – and this would be the larger reason why I didn’t want to comment – I refuse to judge another mother for her feelings about her children, because I get – I totally get – that those feelings are complicated and can become even more complicated if depression or anxiety or even just plain old exhaustion are involved. So, I wasn’t going to comment.

But then I was asked by a few people, and then a few more, what I thought about the ethics of that mom stating, publicly and on the permanent record, that she would rather her daughter die than her son? Not the feelings themselves, but the articulation of those feelings, in a space where a vast audience could read and comment and where, one day, her children might find it. And I still wasn’t going to comment, because, ugh, ugh – I worry about this stuff, the ethics and consequences of public revelation (it’s one reason why I maintain the Basement), but that doesn’t mean that I want to talk about it any more than I have to – I get sick of myself, too, you know – but then I remembered that I actually did comment, before the fact, last week, in this Washington Post story about the ethics of sharing our childrens’ lives and baring our parenting souls in the public sphere. And I thought that it was worth revisiting the thoughts that I shared there, which is to say, the thoughts that I prattled, maybe a little defensively, to the writer of the story – who, I must say, bore my self-defensive rambling with grace – because they are thoughts that I am constantly struggling to keep front of mind, to maintain as course-correcting lodestones, keeping me on the path that I want to walk as a writer and a mother. Keep reading…

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