Belle asked, licking the last bit of chocolate icing from the back of her hand.
“Mommy? Do you still blog?”
We were sitting in the hard, plastic bucket seats in the single terminal at the Cyril E. King Airport in St. Thomas, and she’d just eaten an individual Sarah Lee chocolate cake square, after I veered her away from the cut up containers of honeydew (“You need to be careful with pre-cut fruit depending on how long it’s been sitting out without air conditioning!”) and a chef salad (“You don’t like that to begin with and, let me just give you a piece of advice: in this situation, eat the cooked food.”)
“You know what, love? To be honest, I don’t really blog so much, anymore.”
“Why not, mommy?”
She had a tiny smudge of chocolate icing on the right corner of her mouth. Belle is both indescribably beautiful and unfathomably messy; it is almost a rule, at this point, that she will have the longest eyelashes and fullest lips in any room, as well as a partial-ketchup-mustache on her top lip, almost all of the time.
I felt a pang. Not only because I feel a general sense of guilt about not continuing to share our lives as regularly as I once had, but really because of the next thing she said. Because of what it evoked in me.
I explained to her that I had to cut back on blogging because I got my second book deal with less than 6 months to turn in over 80,000 words (October to April), and then I had to stop blogging because of my concussion and subsequent “post concussion syndrome” (March 24- …), and that I’d love to start up again.
“I want you to blog again, mama, because I miss having you blog.”
I don’t know if she missed reading my posts, as I don’t really think she did read my posts, or if she missed having “blogger” as a title after my name when identifying myself.
“Go back through the blog,” I coaxed her, gently, my voice most certainly filled with wistfulness. “I have nine years of posts for you to read. I wrote almost every day for almost nine years. There are breaks here and there, but I have your whole childhood documented in an online baby book – or journal – and you should read it!”
Of course there are things that I do not want for her to read right now. And, when you’re a kid, it’s always the things you’re not supposed to read that are the most tantalizing.
I want her to read about her life as a baby, like when I overheard Kenny singing to her softly, as he combed her soft (albeit sparse) baby hair after an evening bath, and I could hear his kind words, blended with her soft coos, from the next room over. I want her to read about her daddy becoming a daddy.
I don’t want her to read about the things that have hurt me – and us.
It is similar to how each week when her People Magazine arrives and she dutifully hands me the issue so that I can comb through the edition to tear out any pages that could be inappropriate, upsetting, scary, sexual, triggering, or some combination of the above.
I want to curate a collection of posts for her so that she can read the happy story. She’s already lived through enough of the hard story.
That is how my website – and books – are arranged.
Speaking of this arrangement, not only do I have guilt about not blogging, which is low down on my list of things for which I feel guilty,
but I’ve always felt really, really bad that I’ve arranged this narrative so that Belle dominates the happy story, and Beau’s birth and my time postpartum is the story of the hard. Together, they make up – and have given me – my hopeful story. But, still. I don’t want him to think he’s my hard story. In truth, HE is not my hard thing. He never has been. He’s been the best thing. It’s the me I met when I had him that was hard.
Sitting in the airport, piercing a second slice of chocolate cake with my own plastic fork and taking a bite, I ran my tongue across my front teeth. “Let me see what I can do,”
I told her, just as a woman in a green and red elf hat grabbed her microphone and announced that it was time to board.
My conversation with Belle reminds me of a conversation I had with Kenny in recent weeks.
It went something like, “I feel bad because I NEVER blog anymore,” I admitted, during one of our evening chat sessions.
“So then blog!” He said, in a way that was meant to convey enthusiasm and support, and, if I’m being totally honest, because that’s what someone would naturally say without putting too much thought into such a reply.
It would be like my saying, “I REALLY want to go to Italy!”
And then Kenny replying, “You should go to Italy!” Without actually factoring in the kids and their schedules, our inability to take time off, or the cost.
So, it’s like, I can’t go to Italy. Clearly. But when you say you want to go to Italy to someone, they might tell you to go to Italy.
When you tell someone you miss blogging, they might tell you to blog.
Because, like Italy, blogging has its own cost.
“Ken, I can’t. I blog about what I know. I blog about our lives, and my life, and the kids, honestly. I write about the hard things. And I can’t do that right now.”
Freshly cooked up pasta and blog posts would have to wait.
You see, I feel disingenuous writing a post in which I talk about some of the things that are going on in our lives – the good things, like Belle’s amazing fourth grade teacher and happiness at her new school, and my new book coming out next month, our new puppy, Georgia (Georgie)- or the superficial things, like the four books I read this week and the many tv shows I’ve binged this month, and the new nail polish colors I’ve tried and loved – or the normal hard things I’ve talked about on here, like living with mental health struggles, my weight restoration journey, Lola’s Lymphoma.
But, to me, it wouldn’t be real. Yes, those things are all real, but they aren’t what are carrying the day for us as of late. There are bigger things, and different things, and they’re harder than I could have imagined. And these are the things that I will not – at this point – be sharing openly here.
And because it’s these other things that are the things that seem to wrap themselves around us these days, the tentacles of pain that have woven their way through all of our cracks, even creating some new cracks of their own, that often feel as though they are eroding our very foundation.
I don’t mean to be hyperbolic.
Also, I’m not being hyperbolic.
Sometimes, when putting up a post on Instagram, even though I really, really try to “keep it real” I make sure to snap a half dozen photos, make sure move the discarded pair of socks out of the frame, and then filter the photo so it’s the most flattering. I often do this, though, while holding up a bottle of pediatric allergy medicine at 2am after my kid has fought me for 90 minutes about taking it, only to beg for more after the first sip. That, to me, is what this blog is like. It’s honest, and true, and shows the messiness or life, but it also shows it in the way I want to represent it. I don’t snap a photo of that scene DURING the 90 minute meltdown. That’s too much. Too much in every way. If said picture comes out with me looking like a creature from the black lagoon, I also might elect to not share it. Look, I have my insecurities, and I try my best.
I wouldn’t, however, pose my kids in pairs of slippery but ADORBS shoes (#ad!) on top of a dangerous, rocky ledge, with water licking at the rocks below them, as crocodiles crawl slowly towards them, looking for their next meal, just to get “the shot” for “the gram.”
I don’t put them in danger or post scenes that are blatantly fake.
(As an aside, yesterday, while sitting on the beach, the couple next to me had their umbrella FLY out of the ground beside them and across the sand, impaling a nearby tree. We called for help, but before the teen boy who ran to assist could pull the large umbrella out of the larger tree, the husband part of the couple stopped us, took out his phone to snap a photo. His wife looked at him incredulously.
“What? I want to post this and say, “Look what happened while I was relaxing on the beach today.”
It is fair to say that I personally don’t want to post photos of my kids on ledges with crocodiles, even if the light is just right. Even if it will get me more followers. That kind of content does not a content Becca make.
Look, it isn’t the best analogy, but, hey, I’m still shaking off the dust…
…is what I had just finished writing when an unexpected moment of turbulence rattled me.
Sometimes, the story just writes itself.
You see, I wrote the above during my second hour of a four hour flight, and stopped when it got a bit bumpy.
I don’t love to fly. In actuality, I have a pretty significant case of aerophobia, and one that has kept me grounded for a lot of my adult life. It has held me back. But, what I prefer even less than flying is giving my kids anxiety, and so I have hidden this fear from them, and when we do fly, Kenny and I have an agreement that I get to turn off and not have to parent for the several hours during which time we are at cruising altitude. I particularly do not like turbulence.
Getting through this flight was an accomplishment for me, and when we landed, I exhaled. I had done it.
As soon as we touched down, the pilot made an announcement that we would be stuck on the runway while another plane vacated our spot. Look, for someone with a huge fear of flying, anything that involves logistics is nothing more than a hassle, BUT I had my three doggies at home, and after 12 days away from them I was rushing to get back to them, and this delay made me anxious.
After being stuck at our gate for 40 minutes, the lights turned on, miraculously – a Hanukkah miracle!!! – and the plane made that “ding ding” sound that it makes when it’s time to disembark.
And then …
I don’t know exactly what happened next, but Belle, who had been complaining of a stomach ache, got sick.
And by sick, I don’t mean she discretely coughed into a tiny air sick bag. She vomited. My delicate flower vomited everywhere. All over herself. All over me. Partially on Beau. As the ENTIRE plane was trying to get off.
So, here I am (there I was), in the photo above, wearing Beau’s shirt, my white espadrilles that’s read “Sun’s Out Buns Out” also covered in puke. None of us smelled good. None of us looked good. None of us felt good.
And in the airport bathroom (the one in the baggage claim section … not the cute one), and guess what I’m decided to do? I took that darn picture.
Like I said, sometimes, the story just writes itself.