For parents, children growing up is always a bit confusing. You would think we would get used to it—after all, our kids get older literally every day—but it never seems to get more comfortable. Though I try to avoid it, I often look at Facebook memories, most of which feature pictures of my children, and every time I do, I feel a twinge of melancholy as I emit the contractually required “Aww.”
For me, however, there is a second level of confusion that accompanies my children’s relentless and never-ceasing quest to get older. As a parent who writes stories about my kids and posts them on the Internet, I’m not at all sure when I should stop writing about my children. I always assumed the decision to stop (or at least shift the tone and focus of my writing) would come naturally, and as it turns out, I think it finally has.
I made the choice a few years ago to keep the use of my children’s first names to a minimum, I always knew that wouldn’t be enough. I’m not a stickler about it and the names are pretty easy to find with minimal effort. And from day one, I have been careful to avoid writing anything negative or controversial about my kids—even though I know negativity and controversy often sells. I’m well aware that to maintain my children’s privacy and agency to share their own stories as they see fit, I have to be even more careful as they get older.
My oldest son is almost eight years old and just started second grade. Recently, we’ve had some very profound and/or humorous conversations. And while I recorded those interactions as I usually do, I almost instantly knew I would never share them publicly. For whatever reason, these conversations felt different. More personal and grown up somehow.
They would make great stories, but I just can’t share them. I say this not to be a tease, but simply to explain my situation.
As I expected, when it was time to change, I just knew it. Kind of like how I had a feeling when my kids were (or were not) ready to start potty training or tennis lessons.
I don’t know what this shift in focus means for my writing. I’ll still write parenting stories—-it’s such a big part of who I am—but the focus will continue to change. It already has subtly. Compared to my earliest parenting articles and blogs, my more recent stories have placed my feelings and actions at the center of the story rather than the antics of my children. I expect that trend will continue. Perhaps turning my writing more inward will help me learn who I am now as I begin to emerge from the fog of the early years of parenting.
Of course, I don’t know what my plan is for writing or anything else, really. I make things up as I go. I don’t have any other choice. When your primary source material—and your primary source of interaction and entertainment—is constantly growing up, you have to be ready for anything.
You can read my companion piece to this story over on Parents: The Identity Crisis of the Stay at Home Parent When the Kids Go to School.