In this age of 24/7 access to social/news media, we are right as parents to question how much we share with a global public what goes on in the privacy of our homes.
Once upon a time, not so very long ago actually, when baby's first birthday arrived, photograph sharing took time and needed thoughtful, conscious choices. For example: one had to buy film, shoot the photographs without knowing if any came out, get someplace to drop the film off for development, wait an hour or a day, and, if any of the photographs were acceptable, reprints would need to be ordered. Next, one would wait another hour, or a day, go back to for the reprints, then put the pictures in a stiff package, which may require cutting a piece of cardboard to fit in the chosen envelope, get to the post office and pay for the package to be shipped to the recipient. There was no instant gratification.
There was a time, for those of us who are old enough to remember, when patience was not detested and privacy was not something we feared we had lost.
I am that old-enough-to-remember person who, as a writer, aside from being a best friend, parent, and partner, 9 times out of 10 did not have the satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) of knowing that somebody on the planet had read my work.
Times have changed. For better, and perhaps for worse, I have come to realize the serious responsibility I have to my family, myself and my audience to make sure that un-peer-reviewed material is appropriate for public consumption. Unlike many writers out there, I have not, given the nature of the Internet and the constant availability of writing out there, given enough conscious thought prior to hitting the "submit" or "return" on the keyboard. It's easy to send, yet not so easy to retract.
Where the Ego meets the Soul -- this is where I now find myself parked.
A short while back, I wrote about an incident that focused on my daughter and the way in which she and I moved through a really tough moment. What began as a tantrum shifted into an emotional meltdown with which I had no experience. I wrote in detail about the afternoon she melted down, and how I dealt with it. After receiving some feedback that felt damaging, I had a sleepless night; I spent the silent dark moments awake and alone pondering... a lot.
If some readers felt compelled to comment in a harsh, angry or even disgusted tone, I must have written in a way that made them feel angry and disgusted. I had to ask myself if I felt okay continuing to write in a way that does not always take into consideration the vast variety that may read my work. Shouldn't I, if I claim to be on a conscious path -- a writer's journey that serves others and not myself -- consider more than my own perspective?
Suddenly realizing the impact of not having an advisory or editorial team to monitor what has the potential to be read by thousands, the exploration of journalistic responsibility and my ego came into play. After viewing Dr. Wayne Dyer's film, "The Shift" on Oprah's show, Super Soul Sunday, I have been exploring the issue of Ego vs. Soul. The need to question my motivation for writing to the public, as opposed to personal journal writing, is not only vital at this stage of my life, but, I believe, a valuable debate for all writers in this era of social media to take on.
In the end, the fallout of my last article has served to enlighten me to new heights, as a writer, and, as I hope, a mother, wife, friend, and global citizen. Had I known then what I know now ("When you know better, you do better" -Maya Angelou), instead of focusing on my daughter's and my personal experience with an emotionally challenging afternoon, I might have chosen to write something more broad on the topic of preschool tantrums.
* * *
Experts say that although toddlers and preschoolers both can have tantrums, the way a parent deals with the preschooler's is important.
In Becoming the Parent You Want to Be, (Broadway Books, 1997) Davis & Keyser teach that because preschoolers possess greater language than toddlers, and they have more experience handling their feelings and thoughts, this gives the parent an increased chance to:
*talk with your child about what happened *think about the roles both you and your child played before and during the tantrum *think about factors that led up to the explosion *come up with ways for your child to deal more effectively with those stresses that can be anticipated *talk about things your child would like you to do to help *invite your child to help come up with effective ways to respond to future tantrums" (page 101)
In the end, I now realize that my role as a blogger, not a scholar, but a writer who is also the mother of a child born in another country, is not to expose the intimate details of my family's personal life (I'll save that for a potential next memoir) but to write in a way that better serves the global community of readers who might wish to learn a little something along the way. Though I won't stop sharing my process as an evolving human being, I do believe it is time to cease exposing stories not my own.