To Write It All Down

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.”

 

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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

 

 

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25 thoughts on “To Write It All Down

  1. Tricia, I applaud the way you’ve written about your family in the last few years. It does not feel exploitative – in fact, it’s never felt this way to me, and I’ve been reading your blog regularly for the last couple of years. I appreciate your honesty and the depth of care you show your boys, the seriousness with which you take this process of parenting and writing. Thank you for sharing with us.

  2. You KEEP writing. It’s a beautiful gift, a loving legacy you are giving your sons. Believe!!!

  3. Your writing is nothing but a gift for your children. No need to explain to those who don’t understand.

  4. Huh, weird that some people actually judge you like this. I think you’ve written everything with beauty and class. The only disrespectful thing you have done is not sent me my early copy of your book;)

  5. I have stopped blogging twice because of what others said. Don’t do as I have done. Your words and memories are too precious. You know who you are, what to say and when to say it. Well done!

  6. Oh, judgement… thou wilt find each of us before we have time to look back and wonder. Why must those around us pursue judgement before the end comes? I always wonder about those who fear what time will bring… Do thy not look back and wonder where it went? Can any of us remember those fuzzy years when we craved life, and it so stubbornly eluded us? I pray those who judge me, find not the same judgement for themselves. God bless them.

  7. This is hilarious to me because I’ve written a dozen books with my kids’ stories in them and to a child, when a book came in, they each flipped through and looked for their name, and often counted to see if they got as many “mentions” as their siblings. My friend’s kids would BEG for me to write them into my books. When children grow up in a home with a writer, especially a mom with an eye and ear and voice for the nuances and sweetness of children’s hearts and their own brand of comedy… they, too, begin to view the world through deeper lenses. They view today’s problems and frustrations in different ways… and jump immediately to “if this were a story, what would it sound like?” Sometimes they see humor where others miss it (because the craziest bad days can make the most hilarious stories); sometimes they see sorrow as a lesson yet to unfold; whatever it is, children of storytellers grow up like their mamas to “taste life twice or thrice” — once in the happening, once in the re-telling, once in writing it down and making sense, or comedy, of it.

  8. Tricia, please write it all. Yes, when they are teens they may not like some of what you have written, (although I have not read anything yet) but they quickly grow past that stage and they will cherish your every thought. Oh what they would not give to be able to read Robb’s thoughts about them today. I love you! Rock on my precious friend!

  9. “The life of those days exists only in the words I wrote when I was writing to breathe.”

    I have kept many a journal in my nearly 40 years of married life, with crazy-busy days homeschooling a dozen kids. When I dig one of the many notebooks out and read a bit of it, the memories come flooding back. It takes my breath away. I see the good, the bad, and the ugly, for I wrote honestly – when I was in sorrow, in pain, in gladness and joy. My story is one of a flawed and broken person who only kept on because of faith in a perfect and whole God.

    I will leave those journals, warts and all, for my children to read when I’ve gone on. I know my love for them will shine through, even during the times of trial and disappointment. I can see that they will be blessed by reading my words, imperfect as they are.

    I have a few things my own mother jotted down. Letters, notebooks… and I wish I had more. I treasure things she wrote in her own handwriting. Not just her words, but the actual script… it brings back memories, and I am thankful.

    Keep on writing, Tricia! Don’t let the naysayers get you down!

  10. Above all, it’s obvious in your writing that you not only love your boys, but you respect them. You go girl!

  11. Try not to worry about those people. Use your gift. Your children will thank you. Listen to the people who love and support you.

  12. If only the people who NEED to keep their mouths shut would learn to do so. Your literary voice is one I want to keep hearing. I have always felt you have the utmost respect for your boys. Often, you write about something one of them has said or done, and don’t even reveal to us which boy it was. Keep writing what is in your heart and what is happening in your and your boys’ lives, and what you all agree can be written about. That is what matters.

  13. And what a gift this will be to your boys!! I only WISH I wrote more things down. Kids crave the stories. Good, bad, happy, sad. Carry on dear friend.

    Love, Ann

    Sent from my iPhone

  14. I enjoy your posts about the boys and “real life” events probably more than anything else you blog! I’ve learned from you, laughed, cried, empathized, and felt encouraged!!! Keep doing what you are doing and let the negative, “well meaning” people STOP reading! I appreciate your candid, honest, to the point accounts that only a widowed mother of two little boys could communicate.

  15. It is astounding to me that anyone could read your words and use the word “exploit.” I have been reading for close to three years and the love for your kiddos is so obvious, your tenderness. And of course the reality of life with your boys. I think your words will be a treasure to them someday,a written scrapbook that will cause them to laugh, cry and marvel. Those of us who are writers know that “writers write” and the easiest thing to write about is that or those who are nearest and dearest to our heart. Your heart for them overflows on the page. That is obvious. Those who criticize have no grounds. None.

  16. keep writing. Those who don’t want to read should turn their computer off! You are an inspiration to us moms!!!!!!

  17. Wherever God gets a fair chance to bless others, His opponent will try any means available to put a stop to it, and doubt has always been a primary tool. Your words are a blessing, encouragement, wisdom, and a fun refreshing breath of air. Detractors abound – don’t surrender to their negative ambitions. You have been provided a platform, a voice, and a growing audience – fret more the wasting of this expensive gift than the false accusations of small minds.

    As a matter of fact, I wrote your name & book title on a card tonight, that you may bless one more family on the journey of having recently and suddenly lost a husband, father, and grandfather.

  18. Tricia, all I can think is that one day they will be grateful. One day they will see those early blogs, the blogs before Robb passed. They will see those precious memories, his big smile, and know that he truly did love them. Loved you! So many people loose those memories. The blessing here is that you DID blog and write it down, so one day they will know the man that is their father and know the journey you all went through.

    We do the best we can in any given situation and we are all going to do things that others disagree with. The reality is, we have to decide what is best for us and forget the naysayers. Because in the end, the decisions we make today do affect the future and most of the time we will be glad we did what we did!

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