Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.
~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
As a writer, I crave an audience. I relish a challenge. Feedback is vital to my growth.
As a parent, I am . . . less secure.
I find parenting a third-grader is like balancing a stool on two legs. I make too many mistakes. I have too many questions. I don’t know which questions – or which mistakes – can be released into the light of day without causing the whole darn thing to topple.
I want to understand why we’re seeing the tantrum again, and how we can help our growing girl manage the strong feelings and mood swings which have become a daily part of her life. I want to teach her to calm her body without bumping into me again and again and again, kicking me, or pushing her head into my belly like a charging bull. I want her to stop chewing things, throwing things, ripping things.
She is trying. We are trying. Can writing these things make me a better mom?
Her teacher recommended we get her hearing tested. She hears just fine when we’re whispering in another room, and she repeated for me verbatim the quiet instructions I gave while she was interrupting me last night with some tale about a giant bean sleeping on a beanbag pillow.
I think we need empathy, and a behavior plan for focus. (Yes, we will get her hearing tested, too.)
I also need to parent her without caring how I’ll be seen, which means: I may need to take a break from blogging.
What I really need is a quiet coffee date, once a week, with a good friend. But so many of us have fallen into the trap of turning inward – to ourselves, to our families – and not making time for one another. Writing a blog allows me to believe I’m sharing secrets with a friend over coffee. I’m not.
Will stopping for a few weeks force me out into the world?
As a writer, I have learned to recognize which ideas are not ready for the light of day, which story openings or quotes or themes need to marinate in the dark, or with one trusted friend. As a parent, I find it infinitely more difficult to discern which everyday acts can be made public, and when. Maybe I just need to write about something else. Something other than parenting.
I need time to reflect. Do I need a break from my blog, or can I just change my focus for awhile?
If I take a break from the here-and-now, I could share excerpts from the Nap Diaries, which I scribbled on lined paper in quick bursts the year my baby was two years old. I could tell you about the first time another mom heard her speak, months after we had begun carrying on whole conversations at home. I could recall for you her cousin’s questions, or tell you about the new friends I made when she started school.
I understand where these events fit into my life and into hers. Is that what matters most, in the telling?
I don’t know yet where today’s stories fit into the narrative of family life, or how we’ll feel about them years from now.
Some of my daughter’s friends already surf the world wide web. They have email addresses and curiosity and unsupervised screen-time. Chances are, because they hear us all talk, they know the name of my blog and it’s only a matter of time before they find it.
But more importantly, my daughter, herself, is cultivating a drive to know more. She watches me at the computer each Friday morning, publishing my blog. A year and a half ago, she barely noticed what I did on the computer. “Family stories,” I explained to her then, and she went on eating her bagel. It was enough. Now she wants to know more.
This blog is not something I want her to stumble upon. Not yet.
I need time. I need a quiet place to think. I need a regular writing practice, and more conversation with friends. I need to care a little less. Or a little more. I can’t decide.
Will I blog next week, or not? I don’t know.
For now, I will continue climbing the stairs, even though I have no idea where they go.