Over the last couple of years, it’s become increasingly difficult to write about my children for this column.
What are they comfortable with me sharing? How much do I feel I can declare, publicly? Am I writing something that might embarrass them, now or in the future?
Our son was barely a year old when I started writing a parenting column called Mommy Diaries for a local magazine …
… and when I started writing The Mom Scene for SaltWire Network newspapers, he was three and our daughter was one.
Now our son is 11 years old, in his second year of junior high school. (They renamed it a “middle school” over the summer, but he refuses to be demoted.) I can tell you he loves YouTube, Harry Potter, taekwondo, running and K-pop, but he’s creeping up on being a teenager, so I can’t tell you more than that. He deserves his privacy.
Even our “baby” is far from a baby. She’s nine going on 16, with highlighted hair and a brand-new set of braces. I can tell you she takes four dance classes a week, loves to act, and shines the brightest on any stage, but she rolls her eyes when I embarrass her, so I don’t dare tell you more than that. She, too, deserves her privacy.
When I started writing about life as a mother, it felt like there were thousands of things to write about — baby food, cloth diapers, potty-training, naps, sleep deprivation, tantrums, first words, speech delays, ear surgeries. I loved reading “mommy blogs,” and couldn’t get enough of parenting content because it summed up my whole world.
When my kids were in preschool and elementary school, there were entertaining stories to tell about screen time, playdates, birthday party drama and ER visits because of swallowed screws. (He was fine, and hopefully learned a lesson about dissembling and snacking on Happy Meal toys.)
There were serious topics, too. I wrote about struggles with postpartum depression, the crippling anxiety of raising children during a pandemic, and the enormous mental toll associated with parenthood. I wrote about the backlash our son experienced when he grew his hair long, and what it taught all of us about misgendering.
And while I know many people believe parents shouldn’t publicly share anything about their children, including photos, I have been happy with my decision to share bits and pieces.
I don’t regret the years I spent telling these stories, and neither do the kids — so far, at least. They enjoyed when their school bus driver taped up a column for everyone to see, or when a teacher stopped them in the halls to congratulate them on something they’d read.
They love re-reading stories about the times they made hilarious messes (diaper cream smears on the carpet didn’t feel funny at the time) and dangerous mistakes (the same LEGO piece up the nose, not once but twice).
I love looking back on these clippings, too. I have 10+ years of published parenting columns that capture feelings I can barely remember having, like the fleeting desire for another baby and the ultimate decision not to have one. Without writing it down, would I still remember the details of my surprise hysterectomy at 31? (Worst surprise ever.) Would I remember how much I struggled with comparison (still do, actually) and the parenting-related New Year’s resolutions I made over and over, dried ink on the page?
I re-read my own words and sometimes it’s like I’m reading about someone else’s life. It really was magical when the kids learned to read, but it was also tedious practicing those EasyReader books with them. And, oh, how silly I was when our daughter started ballet and I fussed over her getting the perfect leotard. (It felt like such a big deal at the time.)
As my children creep closer to 10 and 12 years old, it’s time to pass the torch onto a parent who can share a fresh perspective and has years’ worth of new content to share — content that’s far less personal (and potentially embarrassing) than anything I could write about raising my tweens.
And you, dear readers, thank you for supporting “The Mom Scene” for so long. I truly appreciate the notes and emails you’ve sent me over the years, whether you loved a column or hated it. Many of you have seen yourself, or your children, reflected in the pieces I wrote, and I will always be grateful for the opportunity to connect with you through the pages of these newspapers.
*NOTE: HeathersHandmadeLife isn’t going anywhere, and I continue to work full-time at the SaltWire Network as Manager of Content Marketing. It’s just the parenting column that’s going away. 😉