Seven years ago, when I started the blog, I wrote for myself. I wrote for the precious hour during naptime when I could think for a few minutes on my own. I wrote to think out loud, and I wrote to remember. I wrote to remember that I could think.
Why did I write about my children? Because they were my days and nights, my waking and sleeping, my happiness and my exhaustion.
I wrote about them because I was learning, from them and about them – and thereby so much about myself, and I think anything I learn is worth writing down, even if I’m the only one who reads it. (Sometimes, especially if I am the only one who reads it.)
Recently, I’ve been under scrutiny for writing about my kids.
You’re exploiting them. You’re disrespectful.
We grieve for the day they learn what you have said.
You don’t understand who they will be when they are teenagers, how they will likely never forgive you.
(One of my long standing hopes is that women will share the mutual respect that we’re all doing our best, that there’s no room for judgment, and the more we know about each other offers the greater support we can claim for ourselves.)
I don’t think I actually need to explain this to anyone but my children, but I’ll say it anyway. We have a system of rules in our home, and a series of them apply to the things we say or do not say outside our home. There are things we don’t say to neighbors or classmates or even Grandma and Poppa. There are things I don’t write on Facebook or the blogosphere or in a book manuscript. And there is a question we ask each other mutually and often: “CanI talk about this? Or should I keep this private and in our family?” And if any single one of us says no, or even hesitates to say yes, then we have our collective answer.
I continue to write, about them and us and life and happiness and exhaustion. The first two years of our life without Robb would be gone – completely and forever – from my memory, if I had not written it down. I can’t remember those days. The life of those days exists only in the words I wrote when I was writing to breathe. Everything else has fallen into the abyss of memories the mind tries to erase.
Why do I write about my children? For my own sake. So that someday I can tell my children that I did the best I could. I write about them as the most tangible way I can learn what I am made of, to learn who is this fierce woman who has been struck down but not destroyed, who lives only because she loves.
Someday, they will say, “Mom, what was it like after Dad died? What was it like when we were small? Was it hard for you? What did depression look like and feel like? How did we process it all? What did we say? How did you help us? How did you even know what to do?”
And I will say, “Here, baby. I wrote it all down for you.”
When we journal, we go for a stroll, without purpose or direction. We start one day and walk for a while, write for a while, and then stop. What we have is a fragment, a record of our awareness. The next day we do it again. And perhaps the next. And the next. Soon we have many fragments – of ourselves, or our awareness of the world.
Sometimes it seems as if one thing has nothing to do with another thing, but it does. The trick is to write it down. Not to figure it out. To write it down, one vision at a time.
~ Burghild Nina Holzer