There I was, minding my own business in my kitchen while frittering away precious moments on Facebook, when I heard the ding of a text hit my cell.
I looked and saw my ex-husband’s name pop up and felt that familiar spark of adrenaline as a panic attack began to spread through my chest. He can be a serious text bully, and had spent a lot of time sending me venomous thoughts wirelessly during our divorce. To this day, I experience PTSD symptoms every time I see a text come in from him, even though nowadays most of our exchanges are benign and sometimes even pleasant.
But I’d been waiting for this one.
He was wondering, via text, what our children must think of my newsletter “or whatever u call it.” He’d been hearing about it “week after week” from others, asking him how he felt about his ex-wife writing about him and the kids.
That’s funny, I thought, my friends had been asking me the same thing. Well, now we know he’d at least heard about my blog.
“Thanks 4 that. I’m sure the kids will thank u 4 that some day too,” he finished, adding what time he’d pick up our youngest for baseball practice.
Here’s the funny part: My children are my blog’s biggest fans. They are usually the first ones to like a post on Facebook. They always send encouraging notes after reading a post and get on me when it’s been a while since I’ve written something.
Yesterday, my oldest told me my most recent post had him “crying lol.”
“Great writing,” he texted.
When I wrote recently about my gift for getting pregnant and several subsequent miscarriages, he told me how “emotional” he felt reading it and was promoting my blog to all of his friends via Facebook.
“Writing too good for people not to see,” he wrote.
My heart swelled inside my chest, Grinch-style.
This, from the child who challenged me from Day 1. Who at times made me question myself as a mother and a person. But to be honest, he’s the oldest and had always been under my mommy microscope. Nonetheless, I was thrilled.
But I admit, I am always nervous before posting something for all the world to see. I never want my children to feel like I’ve thrown them under the blogger bus. And though I know I have the propensity to overshare – to friends, family, complete strangers – I feel like I (usually) have a good sense of what really should stay private.
Things no one needs to read about online.
I went to hear Anna Quindlen speak at the 92Street Y a few months ago and someone in the audience asked her what her rules were for writing about her children. Quindlen said she was sensitive to it and as a rule has the subject review the piece before publication.
I, on the other hand, am not so democratic.
Of course, I have gotten a couple of texts from my college son complaining that I’d crossed the line (one time was valid and the other he completely misread). Even my post – complete with photos – about my daughter’s pigsty of a bedroom didn’t elicit any e-message to cease and desist. And that girl can be very intimidating when threatened.
My little guy walked by me while I was working on my laptop recently and spied the photo of his handywork mutilating the sheetrock in our garage as the picture accompanying one of my posts. He stopped, stared over my shoulder, and said, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”
As for my former husband, well, therein lies the rub. On the one hand, the man has provided enough copy, as Nora Ephron would say, for a lifetime of blog posts. But we had a whole herd of children together and although our marriage didn’t last, I believe in my heart that he truly did the best that he could at the time.
I mean, don’t we all?
And I don’t want to speak badly about him for my kids’ sake, too. Who wants to be that ex-wife? But that doesn’t mean that sometimes I don’t want to take a little swipe. Like, I’m not perfect.
I think I subscribe to what Epron wrote in Heartburn, “Because if I tell the story, I control the version. Because if I tell the story I can make you laugh, and I would rather have you laugh at me than feel sorry for me. Because if I tell the story I can get on with it.”
Interestingly, my 19-year-old daughter and I were chatting on Facebook yesterday after she read my most recent post and she started getting all Jan Brady and complained, “You only write about the boys.”
“Really?” I asked. “You really want me to write about you?”
“Of course,” she replied. “But only the good things.”