Thursday, November 7, 2013

Have I Retired?

Have I retired?

That was the question a reader (ok, a relative) asked me recently. Lunch Box Mom has not retired but I’ve been on a hiatus, putting my time into writing a play. I also write a blog for Mindprint Learning called The Educated Mom, and between the two, I don’t have much left to write LBM.

It’s not about having time. No parent has enough time. It’s about the capacity to think of something appropriate to write. This blog has usually been a place for me to write about what’s on my mind. When I began, I wrote about the agonizing period of sleep-deprivation we were going through with our youngest child. That showed me the power of a blog: strangers gave me useful advice. The blog ran in the NY Times, making something that was personal suddenly very public.

But anything on the Internet is public. Any blog, but especially a “mom blog” constantly confuses that particular relationship. We write about familiar topics or things that relate to the most intimate connections we have: our children, our function as parents, our day-to-day routines. But we send those thoughts out for all to read.

For a time, I became interested in how the non-personal became personal: contaminated children’s Tylenol, gender-stereotypes in toys, cadmium in toys, junk food for kids, the HPV vaccine.

At other times, I needed to express the absurdity of it all, and wrote  Tips the Parenting Magazines Won’t Tell You, still some of my favorites.

I’ve taken two “long breaks” from the blog, but otherwise, I was pretty consistent about posting each week. The experience of writing nearly every day in preparation for the posts made me a better writer, I believe, as doing anything over and over may improve one’s skills.

So, I changed. But now, so have my kids. They are older. It doesn’t feel right to write about them as I did before. Perhaps a college admissions officer will one day read that Ava was a terrible sleeper when she was 2.5 years old, but henceforth her digital trail will be monitored, not created, by me.

And the other things on my mind: yoga, meditation, writing a play, working for a start-up, are things that don’t fit so neatly into the blog. And yet, I’m not ready to give it up. The thing I miss most on these breaks is hearing from other people. Readers. Friends. Relatives.

Over the years, a few readers, mostly moms, have asked if I ever publish guest posts. I always said no. If the blog was going to bore, offend, or delight people, I wanted the blame. But now, while I finish my play (which I cant’ talk about) and do yoga (hard to type in downward dog) and maintain my children’s privacy (it’s the least I can do), I am changing my views.

I’ve already learned how to use Blogger, and you’ve already subscribed to this blog. Why not make it interesting? I hope to return to writing posts, at the very least offer some Tips The Parenting Magazines Won’t Tell You, but in the meantime, a few friends in my writing group (which I’ve attended once) have some essays on parenthood.

When I’m not meditating, I may just get around to posting them. Drop me a line, if you have one, too.