Friday, July 01, 2005


A friend emailed recently asking how I was handling the fact that my mother reads my blog. "Isn't it strange how we can tell just about anything to cyberspace, AS LONG AS MOTHER DOESN'T SEE IT???" she wrote.

I think it depends on the relationship we have with our mothers, and that's where this entry comes in. A blog should first be about honesty, whether you're a writer or part of the publishing industry or a mom just trying to share family news with far-flung relatives. Griff Wigley's consulting firm Wigley & Associates helps small business and civic leaders learn how to blog for more effective customer and constituent relations. Wigley believes blogs above all must be authentic; to use what he calls "PR lingo" will lose readers. Authenticity is achieved through personal opinion about news and non-news events, as well as discreet pieces of personal information - for instance, the professional writer describing a family vacation.

The blogs I read are all great examples of this technique, and most of them pull no punches about the realities of writing life, publishing, or their families - for better or worse. On the other hand, I don't think any of those bloggers have mentioned whether their mothers read their blogs.

My mother and I have never had a smooth, strong relationship, and as a result I constantly have to weigh honesty against the chance of hurting her feelings. This is more complex now than it was before I became a mother. There are things about my childhood that I still wish had been different, that I wish my mother had been able to make better for me, and that I now seek to make different for my son.

But there are also things I thought I understood that I didn't really, character judgments I made that were wrong. Generations tend not to understand what came before; it's as hard for me to imagine my grandmothers' lives during the Depression, my mother's life as a Baby Boomer, as it will be for my son to imagine both the Baby Boom generation and whatever (terrorism?) will define my generation. This is beneficial when forgetting means we can make life better for our children, but very detrimental when we view our ancestors through the prism of our own experiences.

You won't see any kneejerk honesty in this blog about my childhood or my parents, and I probably won't mention them very much at all. But they defined me as a writer and a mother, they shaped my mistakes as well as my successes, so I don't feel it's fair to avoid mentioning them altogether. So, Mom, readers, take them as they're meant: observations, hopes, but never judgment. I don't deserve to do that.


Blogger Mary Louisa said...

You are a smart and brave woman, Christa. What is, is, right? No sense not speaking your piece just because it might ruffle feathers.

1/7/05 10:46 PM  
Blogger Meg said...

It's like this. Your experience, now, as a mother, underscores my own experience, which is that: (1) We all wish our childhoods had been different, to a greater or lesser degree. (2) As parents, we all focus on "fixing" what went wrong in our own childhoods. (3) As parents, we all make our own mistakes. Thankfully, you won't make any of my mother's, and you won't make any of mine, but you'll make your own, and this silly nonsense being bruited about, that parents should take "parenting classes," *is* silly because it presumes that all kids are cut out of the same pattern. They are *people,* and people are unpredictable. You *always* wing it with your kids.

That said, I have one main reason for reading this particular blog: I want to get to know the person I brought up. I lived with her for over 20 years, and I know who she was as a child, and to a lesser extent, as a teenager; but I don't really know her as an adult, nor as a writer. *That person is no less important to me than the other person, the child, was.* Besides, I'm outrageously proud of her as a published writer -- something I was never able to achieve, beyond writing letters to the editor -- and I want to see how the heck she *does* it with kids in the house (even if not always as successfully as she would like).

Aside from all that -- I've just always assumed that anyone who needed to complain in safety about someone who reads his blog, could always just start up another blog and let his other readers know about it privately. That's what I did. Most of the stuff I publish on my "public" (Xanga) blog, I just cut and paste into my Blogspot blog, but occasionally I'll post something here that I don't there. Or, Christa, if you really, really objected to my reading your blog, you could always say it made you uncomfortable, and I would stop. (But I would WONDER.) ;-)

2/7/05 4:47 AM  

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