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If I'm so sure of myself, why do I have this idiotic expression on my face?

This morning I discovered my 11 year old son, Levi, curled up in our big King size bed, both dogs on either side of him, with my laptop open and a smile from ear to ear.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“Reading all of your old blogs,” he announced proudly. “I love this entry from Passover last year.”

I suddenly got nervous and wondered if there was anything I’d written that I’d prefer him not to read. Of course that was an inane concern, considering I’ve never stopped him from reading the blog before. But somehow, the idea of my entire blog retrospective felt alarming to me.

I’ve been told, on more than one occasion, from more than one concerned observer, that I ought not to allow Levi to read my blog. The issues are often personal, often focused on my insecurities, my inner conflicts about motherhood and life and love. People have vehemently argued that this is not appropriate reading material for my children.

Well, I agree that there are several I’d prefer Eli, my 8 year old, not yet have access to. But since he’s shown zero interest in reading them up to this point, I’m not terribly concerned about him. But I like having Levi read them. It gives him a window into my soul that allows him to know me at a much more meaningful and personal level; in a way most children never know their parent. It lets him understand why I love him and his brother so much, why I’m proud or angry or frustrated by their behavior, why I struggle so desperately to do right by them. And while today a blog entry might seem little more than a silly story to him, the older he gets, the more meaning he’ll derive from some of these pieces. That will be of great value when he’s older, when I’m not around anymore, when he looks back to unravel the threads of his childhood and see how they fit together to comprise the tapestry of his adult life.

Levi giggles at some of the stories I share about him and his brother and their daily antics. He was moved to tears by one piece I’d written about my father. He loves that his life is chronicled, along with my own, in this easily accessible written format that he can sign onto and read whenever he feels the desire. Sure these tales are revealing. But I’m not trying to fool him or anyone into believing that I’m some sort of maternal caricature who makes perfect chocolate chip cookies, knows exactly what to do at every parenting juncture, and never loses her temper during a tot’s temperamental tantrum. That’s just not who I am. He obviously knows that from real life observation, why futilely attempt to snow him into believing otherwise?

My boys will have to accept me for who I really am. And I’m fully prepared to disclose that reality to them every day we’re together. And since I also happen to be extremely introspective, self-critical, and neurotic, a combination of traits that allow me to obsess, judge and analyze every maternal action and personal foible on an ongoing basis, they get a glimpse inside the maternal mind that may, one day, help them as they embark on their own parenting journeys.

I may have blown it on the baby book thing. Might have forgotten to religiously mark the giant Sunflower growth chart on the wall by the laundry room every six months. I might even have failed to bring the video recorder to more than one school play, pageant or parade. But when my kids look back at their lives, they will know, from my writings, who I was, what I believed in, and how their extraordinary presence brought meaning, joy and magic to my world.

About gettrich

Debra Rich Gettleman is a professional actor, playwright and journalist living in Oklahoma City with her husband Mark and two amazing boys, Levi and Eli.

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