Toward the end of February, I posted my view of blogging about one’s children. Mom-blogger and photographer Camille Sheppard Dohrn commented with an opposing view so lacking in wounded anger that I contacted her with the following suggestion:
In response, Camille wrote she was happy “to throw open the conversation on both of our blogs, hoping for comments and thoughts from our loyal and faithful readers!”
Two years ago, I heard Philip Lopate speak. (If you ever can, do. It never hurts to sit at the feet of greatness.) He got a standard question for the personal essay set: How does your (fill-in-the-black relative; he got) mother feel about you writing about her? (It is not entirely flattering.) He said she wigs out on a continual basis, but he’s got her character “up and running.” All he need do is sit down to write, and out she pops.
Clearly, he understands the influence his publishing about her has on their relationship. He does not appear to care. One suspects he might even enjoy it. Lopate, however, is publishing about an adult. If he had the same opinion about his daughter, Lily, he would be a schmuck.
Is Camille schmucky? No. I think she, like so many parent-bloggers, has not thought it through from her children’s perspective.
Parents exist to meet the needs of their children, not the other way around. When told to take down the post, Camille did. That she is open to hearing negative feedback from a smaller, less powerful person who is dependent on her for survival says a lot about her parenting. That her teens felt they could share go her with their opinion says a lot the relationship she has fostered. I know plenty of 40- and 50-somethings who are afraid to be honest with their parents, and I would wager that their feeling of not being heard—of not counting as a full person—started early and was reinforced plenty.
On a seeming tangent: I like to wear v-necks. The cut supports the illusion that m’boobs are H-W-P. About three years ago, my son of as many years started telling me he was not comfortable seeing what we call “private parts.” Basically, I ignored him. My daughter started in on it when she was two. I began to pay attention. With a red face, I now see that the appearance of my breast size was more important to me than my children’s needs. At the same time, I was raising them to understand the difference between public and private behavior. To quote myself, “That is why they are called private parts.” All the while walking around, Cleavage Mama. As small as my children were, and as young and as powerless, they were aware of the contradiction. Lucky for me, they were comfortable saying so.
As much as I believe that mothers are sexual beings with the right to our sexuality, we can chose to support our children’s well-being over our own self-expression and vanity.
Additionally, it is my firm belief that blogging about one’s children is dangerous, but that is a different post. First, I would like to hear Camille’s response. And yours as well.