I began writing when my twin sons, Jacob and Zachary, were babies. I was a scared, sometimes happy/sometimes lonely at-home mom and writing helped make sense of this wacky new world.
It beat screaming into pillows.
I took to it immediately, documenting the funny, frustrating, rewarding and hilarious situations in which my sons and I found ourselves on a daily basis. Journal entries gave way to blog posts, which led to regular gigs at local newspapers, national magazines and websites.
Writing proved rewarding and therapeutic. I won Best Blogger and Best Columnist in my hometown several years in a row. The Society of Professional Journalists in my state awarded a column about my little boy finding my vibrator second place for Humorous Commentary.
A proud moment for any mother.
Like-minded ladies wrote to me about the ways in which my work helped them feel less alone. One reader paid me the ultimate compliment, calling me a modern-day Erma Bombeck “capturing our journey with sarcasm and curse words.”
I loved every minute of it – and named my online collection of parenting tales “Baby Teeth to Back Hair” because I planned to write about my children well into their adult years. Being a mom doesn’t end, right? I looked forward to a lifetime of material.
It didn’t escape my attention that the vast majority of parenting writers were new moms of young children, and I often wondered why. Maybe writing proved too difficult after returning to full-time work or some maybe moved on to other interests.
Or perhaps pimples and teaching teenagers to drive wasn’t as much fun to write about.
I thought I’d be different and keep going.
Imagine my surprise recently when I discovered that I’m not different.
That I won’t keep going.
Jacob and Zachary, now juniors in high school and nearing their seventeenth birthday, still experience some interesting scenarios, many of which are hilarious. I’m tempted to continue writing about parenting teenagers, after all, laughing helps the process.
But then it hit me: these sometimes life-altering adventures really belong to them now.
And only them.
Writing about AP classes and girls and homecoming dances and awkward teenage shit – and how I’ve handled it all as a mom – is starting to feel icky, like I’m exposing too much and violating their privacy.
Some might say I should never have written about them – that a kid finding a vibrator or a toddler pooping in the tub is inappropriate. Perhaps. But my boys have a similar sense of humor and seem to be fine with what I’ve written so far.
I do wonder if that will change as they grow into men. They and their friends can Google me and let’s face it, my tendency to overshare might lead to some uncomfortable family therapy sessions in a few years. Maybe that’s why exploring their life experiences and exploiting them for even the most noble of reasons – to help other moms – feels wrong.
One editor suggested I continue to write, but anonymously.
If I change their names, or mine, isn’t that proof that something’s not quite right?
Making the transition from child to adult is hard enough, I don’t really need to add sarcasm and curse words.
Jacob and Zachary have never complained; both boys are funny and easy going. But I have to be sensitive not only to who they are today, but who they might be in the future. Maybe I’ll put all my columns into a book so they can read 14-15 years of stories and laughs and memories. I’m glad I documented it – for them and for me.
But my role as a mother is taking a different form now, one I no longer feel comfortable documenting. I guess that’s why I’m not writing the way I used to…why I’m saying a goodbye of sorts.
On the upside, I no longer scream into pillows either.