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Last night the funniest thing happened. Thalia said the sweetest, most wonderful thing that a mom could ever hear, followed by something she did by accident that was so inadvertently funny…it was the perfect story.
Only, she was horrified by it. Tearful. And very very embarrassed.
Lots of hugs, tissues, and a bowl of emergency gelato later, I promised her I wouldn’t tell anyone. And I wouldn’t write about it.
So, I guess that time has come.
As bloggers and memorists, I think we all struggle to identify that proverbial line–the one that separates “our stories” from “their stories.” I know it’s something Dooce has written about beautifully, and that other blogging friends and I have discussed with great intensity.
On the second episode of the iVillage series, The Conversation Thread, we touched on the recent outrage around the blogger who got all Sophie’s Choice on Babble and admitted to loving one child better. You know, should the daughter die and not the son, that would be okay. Let’s just say this is one of the few topics all four panelists agreed on easily. And don’t get me started on the follow-up post that seemed to justify it with 1. well I’m just more honest than you are, and 2. you know you feel the same way and that’s why you’re mad at me.
I think it’s outrageous not because we feel the same way as the writer, but because we can’t imagine writing something quite so sharply painful, that will live forever, cached and searchable, for our kids to discover one day.
Not that I won’t hurt them in a hundred million other ways. Or embarrass them intentionally simply because I can. (Teenage years, here I come!) It’s just that this one seems so very very avoidable.
The whole shebang harkened back to my pregnancy days, to the time when Ayelet Waldman wrote her now infamous essay about loving her husband more than her children, after which she was forced to answer to Oprah, God, and 8 million furious moms on Urban Baby. I must confess, back then I was on those very message boards defending her right as a memoirist to tell her story; even as I was mortified by choice to do so.
I can’t say I was too surprised this week to get an email from a major network show, hoping to stir the shit again. No doubt they were a few months behind on the Babble story, and not 6 years behind on the Ayelet story, when a producer asked me to put the APB out to my readers about an episode on moms who feel guilty because they don’t love their kids as much as their husbands.
My response: that is was no way I’m going to hang a mom out to dry on national television with this topic. Sorry.
I’d love to help in other ways though; maybe next time I promote the topic when they’re casting for oh, say, moms who start awesome businesses in a recession. Or moms who refuse to take their toddlers to get pedicures at the salon. Or moms who bring their kids into the voting booth with them.
(I know, I know. I would make a terrible TV producer. THE MOM101 CHANNEL: FEATURING REALLY BORING STORIES THAT ONLY LIZ WANTS TO SEE WITH NO CHANCE FOR FLAME WARS WHATSOEVER!)
What if they held a Mommy War and nobody came?
So now here I am, confronted with the very first time that Thalia has specifically told me not to write about something. Which means I have to start determining if my own line not to cross has somehow shifted.
Generally, I tend to go forward with posts if I’m fairly certain I will not regret writing them later. Not that I don’t miss once in a while. I think there are still a couple that my brother is pissed about. (Sorry Jeff.) I’ve also decided as a general rule, that despite what my amazing memoir writing instructor advocated, that going so deep with My Truth that it creates major conflict with people in my life is not where I want to be. I do believe I’ve got enough of my own inner conflict to delight you with, without confessing every one of my neighbor’s sins.
Unless they’re really, really funny.
If you’re a blogger, where do you draw the line when you write about your family? Do you ever ask permission to write about something? Do your kids get a vote?