There is such a thing as TMI, or ‘too much information.’ Everyone has experienced this, from the friend who talks in gory detail about her colonoscopy to the co-worker who proudly exclaims his sexual escapades to the entire office. Most of us know that there is a time and a place for all sorts of these lovely little anecdotes, and rational folks understand that that time is not now and that place is not the internet.
But not everyone follows this code. Take Kate, a mommyblogger who recently came under fire for her public proclamation of favoring son over daughter. Her most inflammatory paragraph reads:
There are moments – in my least sane and darkest thoughts – when I think it wouldn’t be so bad if I lost my daughter, as long as I never had to lose my son (assuming crazy, dire, insane circumstances that would never actually occur in real life). I know that sounds completely awful and truly crazy.”
While Kate goes on to explain what sounds even to this untrained eye like post-partum depression, her above confession is a harsh one – and totally unnecessary. To Kate’s apparent shock, many of her readers (and those who visited her blog due to the hype) were less than thrilled about her so-called honesty. Some called into question her qualifications as a mother, others her sanity.
The backlash has, for the most part, centered on one very key point: Kate has used a public forum to display a sentiment – complete with cutesy picture of herself and her child – that her young daughter may easily find when she hits the right age. To read such words will be devastating to the poor kid, to say the least.
And I should know. I have been written about since before I could walk. My mother was a novelist and essayist, and much of her work was about food and family life. A lot of it included stories about me. In contrast to Kate, however, my mother included pleasant, bright anecdotes of our life together; the things we did and the things we said and what they meant to her. Then, eight years after I was born and totally without warning, she died.
I don’t mean to suggest that Kate should rescind her words simply because she may suddenly pass away, but I want to emphasize how much a parent’s musings about their children mean to those children once they are adults. My mother’s writing, particularly what she wrote about the two of us, is something I treasure above just about anything else. It helps me remember her, our short time together, and also how she felt about motherhood. Sure, some of her stories involve her stresses, her frustrations, and how she navigated the difficulties of parenting, but they are told humorously and with a vein of love so strong I can still feel it to this day. Nearly twenty years have passed since her death and her words still ring as clear to me as they did when I first read them.
While Kate does express love for her daughter, it pales in comparison to her statements that suggest the contrary. She doesn’t seem to understand how what she’s said will affect her daughter, or what it means to put not just your own life out in the public eye, but the lives of children who will someday be adults.
I was once three years old. Now I am twenty-six. My mother’s two collections of essays (and her novels) have been sold around the world since they were published in the early nineties. My life is on the shelves of strangers and friends alike, on nightstands and reading lists, my mom’s sweet, feisty words pressed between thumbed-through pages. Is it strange and awkward and weird sometimes to have it read by people I have never met? You bet. But, would I trade my mother’s writing for a ‘normal’ life? Not for all the money in the world.
Kate’s daughter, however, will likely feel differently.