Blogging about your family can prove challenging, at least as your kids get older. When Eli and Lizzy were babies and toddlers, I had carte blanche; they were too young to voice an opinion or to object to the columns I wrote about my adventures parenting them in Growing Up In Santa Cruz. And when Eli was old enough to object (at the tender age of five) to the fact that strangers kept coming up to him in the park, talking to him as if they knew him, he was easily assuaged by being given a pseudonym, Justin, a name that he chose. Years later, he decided to stop being “Justin” and to go back to being “Eli.”
Later, when they were in elementary school, he and Lizzy would read my columns and edit them for accuracy. “Mom, that’s not what I said.” Or “But you forgot to write about the time you took my door off its hinges.” We wrote the columns as a team and in the process, I got to teach them about the narrative arc of a story, telescoping events, and the permissible use of literary license.
As they reached puberty and adolescence, the number of subjects I couldn’t write about expanded exponentially until I was hard-pressed to find acceptable topics that wouldn’t offend or reveal too much on the home front, while still giving a slice of life that would have some edge and meaning for my readers. Eventually, I got tired of skirting around the things I really would have liked to write about and I retired from producing my column. I chose their privacy over my public life as a writer whose life is fodder for public consumption, discussion and musing. While the parent part of me knew it was the right choice, the writer part was bummed.
When I started blogging several years ago, when I was dealing with cancer, I tried to keep my blogging specific to me as opposed to my partner and my famly members, but that dramatically limited my material and crimped my style. Sometimes there are things that just beg to be written about that go unwritten. I think I’d blog a lot more often if I felt complete freedom to mine my life for topics I’d like to muse about.
But now I have one. Eli just turned 17 and he and I are about to embark on an archetypal journey, one I’m itching to write about. And so on the eve of setting out on our two-week trip, in which I will be one of seven chaperones for a chamber choir trip to New York City , followed by ten days of visiting colleges from Philadelphia to New Hampshire, I sat my son down and asked if I could blog the trip. I was nervous; what would he say.
“I don’t care, Mom,” which I took to be a yes.
Thursday morning we’ll be heading up to San Francisco to catch a plane with 23 other members of the Georgiana Bruce Kirby chamber choir, six other chaperones (all moms) and Drew Lewis, the musical director. After five days playing, exploring and singing in New York City, the rest of the group will fly home. Eli and I will rent a car and begin our east coast college tour. I’ll be keeping you posted.