Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The End is Nigh

I have a bathroom book.

It’s usually a non-fiction book, occasionally what you might call a coffee-table book, but usually a parenting book that I read after my shower, while I brush my teeth, an opportunity to learn something (but really just an excuse to delay going back downstairs again).

My current book is ‘All Joy and No Fun’ by Jennifer Senior.

I am over half way through and there are a few dog eared corners already, as I fold them down, for that inevitable point in the future when everything goes to hell and I feel the need to refer to a book to help me find a solution.

Because that’s where the solution is, right? In books.

But last night I read this:

It’s not an accident that most parenting blogs are written by mothers and fathers of small children. Part of it, yes, is that these parents are responding to the novelty of their situation. But part of it, too, is that the challenges they’re writing about are usually so generic that they’re betraying no confidences in revealing them. It does not violate your children’s privacy to say they detest peas, and it’s not a particularly poor reflection on your parenting either. Whereas writing about adolescents is different. They’re incipient adults, with idiosyncratic habits and intricate vulnerabilities; they’re unlikely to welcome daily blog posts from their mothers and fathers about their lives. Their parents are no longer inclined to share these stories, either, at least not publicly…

Apart from the bit about daily blog posts, this entire paragraph could be about me. And quite possibly, about you too.

It is something that I think about every time I lash out at my eldest daughter, every time she does something or says something that makes me want to throw something at her. She’s seven but is already behaving like a teenager. A shitty teenager.

Notice how I don’t write any of those stories? I am reluctant to share them, partly because unlike complaining about my baby throwing poo out of the shower, stories about my relationship with my eldest does reflect poorly on my parenting.

And the reason why it reflects poorly, is because I am her primary role model, and almost every hideous thing she does, can be directly traced back to something I have done or said.

I realise that at some point in the future, as all my children grow up, and can read and trawl the internet, Relentless will inevitably finish. I don’t want it to finish because I find such relief in sharing stories and also knowing that my memories have become concrete, that the special moments of being a mother to small children won’t turn to dust in my mind.

But just as Senior writes, writing generic stories about young children betrays no confidences. My kids love hearing about the dumb stuff they did when they were younger. I doubt they will feel so enamoured when they are pre-teens and the bitchy girls at school discover this blog.

So, even now as you watch the number of blog posts drop away, it is not because I don’t love writing for you (or writing for me).

It is because I am treading the fine line between sharing and over-sharing as the girls grow up.

What are your thoughts?


  1. Totally understandable, Shan-Shan. But I'll really miss Relentless....especially because I didn't have kids and I love reading about yours. Miss Sammy xoxo

  2. I know EXACTLY what you mean. There's so much I'd love to share about what goes on inside the four walls of our home, but I can't. I can't do that to my children. I ask their permission if I ever mention them, and I have to respect their wishes, even when I don't want to ...

    Sometimes, my readers must think I only have one daughter—the eldest—because she's the only one that lets me share her stories. There's so much I'd love to mention, particularly about my next daughter down, as she is much more of a typical teenager. She's the one from whom I've learned the most about mothering by making the most mistakes. There are so many stories I'd love to share, but so far, the only thing she's let me do is put one photo of her on my Facebook page—of her dressed up and singing on the stage! I'm not allowed to mention anything else. So the stories that show our very normal family with our very normal yelling, our very normal door-slamming, and our very normal scrambling around searching for a way to stay in touch with our teenage daughter, stay untold. The thing is, these are the things that parents of teenagers want to talk and write about, but I believe very strongly in their right to privacy. One day I might be allowed to tell more ...


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