I think of it often and mean to come write something, but I’m so busy writing other things. And I never did manage to sort out what should go where. I’m at it again, rebooting my old daily learning notes blog at a different platform. I want a place to talk about homeschooling like in the olden days of blogging, when it wasn’t all so visible!
Why there, instead of here? I don’t know. I’m always trying to sort out these boundaries, and they keep shifting on me.
Interface is a big part of it, though. I won’t keep up my learning notes (and I want to) if it isn’t easy as pie. Typepad’s a pain these days. Blogger’s easiest. We’ll see.
The new spot isn’t secret like this place; I just won’t be broadcasting it on Facebook or anything. OK to share & talk about. I’ve been sitting on the ‘unschoolish’ URL for ages. About time I put it to use! (I started fussing with the template months ago. This is how long it took me to get around to posting. Weeks and weeks of learning have zipped by, unchronicled. Alas!)
Edited to add: WordPress just made me laugh. When I clicked ‘publish,’ it announced perkily: “This is your 25th post! Congrats!” Oh WordPress, if you only knew.
A Mary story I love. She was about four years old. This was in our old house, before we moved here. She had been cross and snappish all day, and finally, I don’t remember what the tipping point was, I sent her upstairs to her room.
“You can come out as soon as you’re ready to be pleasant,” I said, not helping the matter one bit.
She stomped upstairs and slammed her door.
Then it opened, and she snarled over the banister: “I’M NOT PLEASANT!”
Slam. Pause. Creak.
“I’M NOT PLEASANT!”
Slam. Pause. Repeat.
Lord, it was funny. And sad: my poor little girl who clearly needed a hug. I went and gave her one, as soon as I stopped giggling.
“I’m still not pleasant,” she said through gritted teeth.
Maybe not always. Oh but so lovable.
I was thinking about this blog, and what Sarah said about my writing here vs. There:
“I remember when I read a poem you had written, and was surprised because it was more delicate, deeper, than I was used to from your amusing writing at the Other Blog. The posts here have that same sound.”
(Which: blush, and thank you.)
It’s so different, writing when I know my parents aren’t reading, or my kids, or my MIL, or the schoolchildren who google “what is the plot of [book I didn’t write]…” There are a few posts here about my dh, or Mary, that would feel too raw, too intimate to share with That Audience.
It has occurred to me that my very favorite post Over There, the one about the mummies at the museum, is much more in keeping with the tone of this space, that kind of melancholy feel.
That’s been one of the funny things about writing here (the little bit I’ve done over the years)—if I came here and wrote about a funny, sunny thing that happened, I would think, “Oh, the girls would enjoy reading this, my folks would enjoy it, I should put it Over There.” So I would.
But sometimes I would come here to try to capture a moment that had been intimate or wry or wistful, and I’d be unable to do it. I’d feel a kind of self-consciousness that was different from the self-consciousness I might feel about sharing intimate moments at the other blog. Over there, it’s the shyness about revealing private moments in a very public space, crossing those privacy boundaries. But over here, I would think: suppose someone who knows me were to stumble upon this blog and recognize that it’s me and think Aha, all those chipper posts Over There must be a facade—here’s what she’s really like. When the truth is that I’m both chipper and, I don’t know, whatever Sassafrassa is; I’m a person of many moods and facets, like everyone else. I didn’t want to create a false dichotomy, separating my mental sheep from my goats. (I have utterly lost the reins of metaphor here.)
In real life my sheep and my goats intermingle freely.
I think blogging is such a unique, interesting kind of writing experience. It’s public but personal, it’s like keeping a journal but others are reading it and, in my favorite cases, responding. It’s like no other kind of writing, really. I suppose that’s why it’s so ripe for meta-discussion. I love to read blog posts about writing blog posts. ;) I write dozens of them in my head but have (Over There) tried to curb my urge to metablog ad nauseum. But golly, it intrigues me, this strange dance.
I started this blog five years ago to see if I would write differently if I were anonymous. I’d been blogging at my main site for over a year, and while I was always frank there, I did feel some constraints– I have always been open, there, about who we are in real life. That means our relatives read that blog, and my older kids, and some of their friends, and our various employers, and so on. When you write about your family on the internet, you have to be mindful of boundaries. My stories overlap with my children’s stories, and as I’ve discussed so often with other friends who blog, I believe it’s vitally important not to overstep the boundaries and write anything that might embarrass a child, now or later.
So I wanted to know what it would be like to blog with the freedom of anonymity. Would it change the way I wrote, the things I wrote about? I set up this blog and wrote a few posts. I didn’t try to disguise our identities, exactly; I just used a different set of names and was vague about locale.
I wound up not posting here very often. Most of the time, after I’d written something for this space I’d think, huh, there’s no reason not to put it at that space. Sometimes I left things here just because I liked the quiet intimacy of this blog. I think the only posts I couldn’t have posted on the Other Blog are the ones that tell about a child being a bit naughty or obstreperous. Those stories make me smile, rereading them now. I’m glad I wrote them down–I’d never have remembered those moments, and they’re sweet and funny to look back on. But they do, I think, stray into that potentially-embarrassing-to-the-subject territory.
My experiment here petered out after only a few posts. Once or twice a year I’d come back and try again, but honestly, I felt a bit awkward. It was lonely writing posts that almost no one saw (my hubby knew about this space from the beginning, and one very close friend)–I’ve never been a journaler; for me writing is always a communicative act, and in the best cases, a reciprocal one, with conversation going both directions. I linked to a few blogging friends in the sidebar and wondered if they would find me, and if they did, whether they’d recognize me. One of them did click through, a year or two ago (hi, E!), and I wanted to say, hi, it’s me! but I felt awkward and shy. I didn’t want to seem like I was pretending to be someone else. Everything I’ve written here is as much really me as everything I’ve written on the Other Blog. It’s just that here, I wasn’t broadcasting our identities.
Now here I am again. I want a space to write in that’s more private than the Other Blog, but not TOTALLY private, not like a diary. A place where I can write frankly about touchier things than I’m comfortable sharing on a searchable, superpublic blog where I have such blurry boundaries between my professional and personal selves. I want to be free to write in a way that I felt more able to do publicly when the children were younger.
I love my Other Blog, I really do. It has become a precious archive of family stories and photos and reading lists. My kids love to go back and read old posts, the funny stories about when they were little. But gosh, that blog sure wears a lot of hats. I thought I might try again, here in this quiet space, hats off. This time I’m going to invite some friends to visit–but you’ll understand, won’t you, why I’m not using our publicly known names?
Speaking of names, I kind of wrote myself into a corner here, early on, by jokingly referring to my hubby as “Mr. David Copperfield” (it made sense in context). I can’t go on calling him that, amusing as I continue to find it, if I’m going to write here on a regular basis. (I have no idea if I will. I’ve thought I would, in the past, and I never seem to make it more than three or four posts.) I don’t know what to call myself, either! For the kids, I’ll stick to the nursery rhyme names I christened them with when I began writing here in 2006. (There was no Davy then.)
(Hmm, I suppose I could continue the nursery rhyme theme and go with Peter Peter Pumpkin-eater and Lucy Locket. Kinda sorta close enough?)
Polly heads down the sidewalk with a little one on either side, their hands slipped confidently into hers. Shoulders a little rounded: all the reading, the computer games, the growth spurt. Old plaid skirt an inch or two above the knee now, about the length she’d wear it if she went to Catholic school. Yesterday a stranger asked her if she liked being homeschooled and she lit up, answered Oh yes with shining eyes. He works with students her age, this man does, and I could see him comparing—favorably; it was lovely, the way she grinned at her daddy’s jokes and nodded so vigorously when I talked about how much fun we have. Mary did some mild eye-rolling; she finds plenty to complain about, but I know that would be the case if she went to school too. Some temperaments have to wrestle and push, I think. It took me a long time to understand that what she needs is for me to be an angel for her to wrestle with. I wish I were better at it. She is so very strong.
Polly would rather lose an arm than wrestle with me. What she wants is not a sturdy angel but a song of praise, a warm glance, a shared joke.
When she brought the little ones back from their walk this evening, Jack had lost his band-aid. She put him on the counter and hunted for a new one. He took a pinch of air from her cheek and pretended to eat her. That laugh rippled out, and she threw her arms around him and said, “I just love you!” He grinned and bobbed and took another bite.
“Sometimes he just melts me, Mom,” she said.
Oh honey, don’t I know the feeling.
I’m supposed to be taking a nap right now, but I’m not. It was a Sunday afternoon present from Mr. David Copperfield. He is sweet that way.
I asked the kids to have the laundry put away by the time I came out of my room. It had all been folded and was stacked in neat piles on the sewing table, and I have this crazy notion that I might actually sew something this afternoon. Or next month, whenever.
Just now someone slipped a note under my door. (And it’s a good thing I wasn’t trying to nap because you just KNOW the little shooshing sound of paper sliding on a hardwood floor would have roused me just at that delicious moment when I was sinking into slumber.)
All the laundry on the table is YOURS, the note says. Proclaims, one might say. Firmly. Not quite belligerently. Sternly, perhaps. You have assigned us two contradictory objectives, is the subtext. Your instructions cancel each other out, Mother. There is no way we can leave you alone for a little while so you can get some rest AND put away *all* the laundry. It is physically and even metaphysically impossible for us to do everything we are supposed to do at this point in time.
To which I say: Welcome to my world.
Sally comes to me with her hand upraised, fingers curled around something that isn’t there.
“Dis my um-rella,” she informs me gravely.
“Oh! That’s your umbrella?” I echo, because that is what mothers are supposed to do for their two-year-olds; that is what the two-year-old expects and, indeed, demands.
But this two-year-old is looking at me like I have an umbrella where my head should be.
“No,” she says in tones of exasperation and bewilderment—how could I be so silly?—”Dis my fish.”