Writing About Motherhood on the Internet When Nothing Online Ever Goes Away
While I was pregnant at 41 years old, I spent a fair amount of time obsessing about how having a baby would affect my career.
This was not, to be honest, because I was in love with my career particularly, at least not right at that moment. Don’t get me wrong — I loved my work as a freelance writer and editor and I was grateful for my clients. But the media landscape as a whole was *five-minute-long fart noise*, as a friend of mine likes to say.
Plus, one thing about waiting to have a baby until your eggs are almost dried up is that if you succeed, you’ll become a mother right when most people have their mid-life crisis. So, I’ll be frank with you that if I won the lottery, I probably would have set aside writing and editing for a couple of years, at least as a money-making pursuit.
But I am not independently wealthy, so I knew that I’d be getting right back to my desk after the baby was born. I consoled myself with a few thoughts:
- I do, actually, like my job. Again, I don’t love what’s happened to the media industry in the past couple of years, but it would probably be pretty painful to go without making things that people read for any length of time.
- I want to set a good example for my daughter. If I didn’t work, and my husband continued to work, I’d wind up doing all the domestic labor in our household. There’s nothing at all wrong with that, if that’s your arrangement. But I want her to know that it’s not the *only* way to split money-making and home-making duties. One method of doing that is to set an example.
- I’d get a new beat out of it. Writing about parenting isn’t particularly lucrative, but it is a way to connect with other humans through writing, which is one of my favorite things and how I wound up with this job in the first place.
Well, about that last one. Between the time I saw two pink lines on a stick and my daughter cautiously drove one pudgy fist through her first-birthday smash cake, the tide seems to have turned. There has been a fair amount of discussion online about the wisdom of writing about one’s kids, and those kids’ right to have their childhood remain private. (See: the backlash on social media to this article.)
The annoying thing is that I agree with the folks who say that parents shouldn’t share their children’s stories indiscriminately. It’s just not something I thought about when my baby was theoretical. Now that she’s here, I would die for her, just as everyone told me I would be prepared to do. But more than that, I would live humbly for her. Which means not exploiting her for material.
So where does this leave me, as a writer? First of all, acutely aware that this entire discussion is, as we say, a first-world problem. I’m lucky to be able to make a living writing. I’m incredibly lucky to have a daughter to protect. And there are plenty of things to write about, without dragging innocent family members into it before they can even read what’s been written about them.
But thinking about this has made me realize that as much as I’d like to share baby stories with you, the main thing I want to talk about in this space is parenthood, motherhood specifically. And that doesn’t need to involve sharing stories that will embarrass my daughter later.
I’ll just embarrass myself instead, as I’ve been doing for nearly 20 years of writing on the internet.