Last Friday I wrote a guest post about being an alcoholic for Stefanie’s blog, and some of you guys went over and read it. One of you, in particular, who has been reading me for a long time, liked the post because you said it felt “real.” This made me think a little bit. Because I like to think that what I write here is always real, but sometimes I take a particular slant to things or emphasize one thing or the other, but it’s all genuine, so that’s real, or a version of reality, right? But then I was thinking, there’s definitely a difference between what I ordinarily write and a post like this one from BHJ, which I could have written, maybe, if I were a little bit more gifted, and also a little less self-conscious about form. I don’t have a close friend who killed himself, but I did have Tanya, which is pretty much the same thing, she was cast in the same role, more or less, as Skip was for BHJ. But instead of just writing about that, I have to change everything around into some different form, I’m going to “fictionalize” a part of my past, and put it in the second person, and that way you will all know that I’m writing about myself but I can still feel detached from it a little bit, just enough to write about it.
Surcey, your comment made me think about the topics I haven’t really talked about here, and why. Some of them are for practical reasons, but others are . . . I don’t know why. I guess sometimes I feel worried that I’ll sound like I’m feeling sorry for myself, or that I’ll hurt people’s feelings. But the thing is, who am I writing this for, anyway? Are these people I’m worried about actually reading this blog? And if I sound self-indulgent and like I’m feeling sorry for myself, well isn’t that what most bloggers do, anyway?
Just give me a couple ideas to riff on and I will go on and on about genre for like fifty years and bore you all to death.
Here’s what I’ve been thinking about lately: I’ve been thinking about what I would have to do to Mini to make him into a kid like I was. I don’t want to make him into a kid like I was, mind you, I’m just wondering what it would take to do it. Because when you’re a parent, you start living your childhood over again a little bit through your kid. And the other day, Mini had just gotten this toy robot from a store, just a little black robot that kind of wiggles and walks, and he was so excited about it, and proud of it, the way two year olds can get about things that are new (which is pretty much everything, when you’re two). And one of his grandparents was there — I won’t tell you which one — and that grandparent looked at the robot and said, “I’m not impressed,” and then two things happened in quick succession: 1) I seriously considered the consequences of punching said grandparent in the face with a closed fist; and 2) I saw the air deflate from Mini’s chest — just a little bit, since it was someone he barely knows anyway — but still enough to almost bring me to tears.
A few years ago I ran into an acquaintance of my parents’ who had not seen me since I was in high school. I spoke to her for a few moments and thought nothing of it until I later heard that this woman had been shocked to see me so happy and functioning so well. She had said that, as I child, I had always struck her as “morose.” I cannot argue with that assessment, and certainly the addition of anti-depressants to my life has something to do with that change. But still, I go back to wondering what I would have to do to Mini to make him into a morose child. Is it some kind of switch that gets thrown at some point, and parenting has no real effect on it? Or is it even more banal than that — too much time left in a crib or a play pen, not enough Mommy and Me time, not enough declarations of love and value? I don’t know. I think about it, but not because I’m worried about it. I already know that Mini’s experience is totally different from mine, and I never worry about him the way that it pains me to think of myself as a child.
This morning I was getting Mini ready for school and, as has been the case of late, he was not pleased about it. So I told him, “Mini, you know that even when Mommy’s not there, she’s with you, in your heart. Just like I always carry you with me, in my heart,” and I pointed to my heart. I think he understood me. I never decided to become a good parent. It’s not like I set about studying how to do it, or what I should do when, or had a checklist of the stuff that I should do to make him happy. I just had a baby and that imperative was there, to protect him and hold him close to me, and over time that grew into something more like a special bond. I don’t think to myself, “I should go snuggle Mini,” or “Have I told Mini that I love him today?” or “Maybe I should tell Mini his new robot is cool.” I don’t think about any of that stuff with Mini. I just do it. I don’t really see why it’s so hard.