I’m beginning to face the music…

from my younger son, who can’t believe I disclosed something quite personal about him in my soon to be released memoir, Stretch Marks. Mind you, the story he’s referring to, happened fourteen years ago when the adoption process held us hostage in Ciudad Juárez and he was two years old.

“Thanks, Mom, now everyone is going to know!” I wanted to counter with, “I wish”, (as in, I wish EVERYONE would buy my book), but instead I stupidly replied that I’d also admitted some pretty awful things about myself. He merely fumed. There is no statutes of limitations in my sixteen year old’s world. I can almost see him hunched over, black Sharpie in hand, redacting that part and many others in the book, before my book signings.

In comparison, my eldest beamed, he clearly loves anything being written about him, good or bad. His burning question: How was Stretch Marks II coming along? I can see him, orange hi-liter in hand, marking up the good parts where he figures prominently, and selling the book at school for an extra  buck or two.

They have not vetted the entire manuscript. But really, now, how many teenagers want to read a memoir written by their mother? And, yes, I do want to know and Hannibal Lechter’s kids don’t count.

For the record, I’ve offered them the opportunity to do so throughout the dozen drafts I’ve written over the years. They’ve smiled politely when I gave them their copy to read. I forced myself out of the room as they thumbed through it, imagining them comic book enthralled as they read. I kept my promise and didn’t grill them about each chapter. In fact, I didn’t bring it up at all. So, when I didn’t find it in the garbage can, I felt victorious. Until I found it  doing double duty along with a stack of Captain Underpants and Dr. Seuss books being used to prop up a bookshelf in the TV room.

So, should I give them another chance?

6 thoughts on “I’m beginning to face the music…

  1. I loved this post! I find it endearing to learn about each other’s vulnerabilities and how we cope with being “discovered”. Thank you for sharing!
    Stephanie

  2. Interesting dilemma. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, mainly because these two posts and their implications:

    http://gawker.com/5968818/i-am-adam-lanzas-mother

    and http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/27/thanks-mom-for-not-telling-the-world-i-pulled-a-knife-on-you/?smid=tw-nytimes

    Basically, these two blogs discuss the implications of disclosing too much about our children, whether it’s in the context of mental illness, teenage angst, or any other life event.

    How much do we disclose about our kids? Is it the same as it’s disclosing about ourselves? And do they have the right to vet our postings?

    The answer, after much musing on my part, feels like a resounding yes.

    Children are vulnerable, and they’ve been placed in our care, so we have the obligation to look after what’s best for THEM. And if our writing makes them uncomfortable, they should have the right to vet it, if it’s about them.

    I do a lot of writing and interviewing on/about children, and I’ve seen firsthand the effects of having their names in the paper. The incessant bullying and mockery. It’s not fun. Also, nobody really understands the implications of having your private life disclosed until you actually go through it. It can be relentless, and very difficult to grasp until it’s out there. I’m sure it was all pie in the sky when you showed your book to your 16-year-old, until he actually saw the reality.

    Yes, you’ve disclosed a lot about yourself in the book, but it’s not the same. You are choosing to do so, and your 16-year-old is not.

    I know this is not probably what you want to hear — given the advanced stage of your publication — but I’d definitely give the young man another try at vetting.

    and my heart goes out to you, amiga.

    • You’re absolutely right, Claudia! So, thank you and everyone else who agreed that they need to read it. They have always said they’d be okay no matter what I wrote, but they don’t truly have a way to decide that without reading it first. Besides, I’d love to know what they think and feel about our stories now in print.

      They read my post last night and everyone’s comments (some came in through my email), so as soon as Agustín read YOURS, he agreed to read it. I must say, I was overjoyed when later I had to remind him to finish his homework first and he looked up from Chapter 4 in Stretch Marks and said, “Pretty impressive, Mom.” Ricardo on the other hand, says he’ll just sign a disclaimer, HA!

      The good news is that I have another round of changes coming before it’s published, so that’s one upside of self-publishing. Again thanks for your comments!

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