“Who are you? Are you the babysitter?” my daughter’s new friend asks as I arrive at day camp, kiss my daughter on the head, and say hello. My daughter claps her hands in shock and glee.
“She asked it!” she whisper-shouts, as if she and I are in a world alone and no one else can hear.
“No, that’s her mom. Her other mom,” someone explains.
“Oh,” the new friend replies, accepting this answer reluctantly. “I’ve only ever met … her other mom, I guess,” she presses on.
“Right. I don’t think we have met before. I’m RoiAnn.” My daughter’s new friend introduces herself, too. My daughter giggles, tidies the paper and markers in front of her, and scampers off to grab her water bottle and be gone. I smile at the kid who helped us out. It’s getting easier. And harder. As the kids get older. To explain our family.
When she was younger and we’d be mistaken for nanny-and-charge at the park, or strangers would ask about her father’s ethnicity, I felt a responsibility to respond, to model for her. But she’s handled these conversations on her own now. Modeling is less important. Or maybe I’m careless. She’s older.
This time, I’m just tickled she recognized the title of my blog.
I read a Huffington Post feature this week on explaining the new normal to our kids. And a website dedicated to letters from Eagle Scouts returning their badges because the Boy Scouts re-affirmed their anti-gay policy. Culture is changing. Normal is changing, too.
Yet nowhere so quickly as in my house.
I’m reminded of the day I realized spelling things at the dinner table would no longer keep us from being understood.
A year ago, when I first started this blog, my daughter didn’t bother herself with what I did at night, what I typed on the computer, what I read or wrote or shared. It was all just Mami’s Work. She was mine and I was hers and all was right with the world. But now, she’s begun to keep secrets (little ones, which she usually tells me at night under the glow of one small light) — and she stands behind me at the laptop on Friday morning sometimes, craning to see over my shoulder, recognizing herself in the masthead of my blog as I sip coffee and let my cereal turn soggy, trying to come up with a pithy Facebook introduction for this week’s post.
Not everything that’s mine is hers anymore. She’s beginning to see that. And not everything that’s hers is mine.
But where is that line? It’s harder and harder lately to find.
I wrote the birthday poem for her and shared it here. I typed it in comic sans, embedded a blue Ugly Doll, printed it, and wrapped it with her new DSi. I don’t think she would mind that I shared it, but I didn’t ask.
If the poem had been more revealing, I would have kept it private between us, I think. I hope. She’s not exactly a sharing-my-innermost-feelings kind of kid. Not even with her closest friends.
And mostly, my blog is about her. Being her mom. Parenting. Our family. Daily life.
Her eyes on the title of my blog have opened new questions: What can I share? How much do I tell? Where are the lines I cannot cross? Can I fictionalize my life for the blog, to protect her privacy? (I haven’t yet – but should I?) Would I still find and pull out the grain of emotional truth that makes blogging worthwhile?
I remember standing around a theatrical dressing room in college, debating the practicality of parenting and acting at the same time. Of acting and working. Of writing and living life. Would you give up everything for your art? – we asked each other – Would you give up acting for love? One question trumping another, one answer better than the last. Does it ever really come to this?
As with most of the big stuff, I’m just feeling my way along.
What do you give up for art? For love? For life?
And if you’re blogging about real life, where do you draw the line?