“Real” writing and vulnerability

I wrote a piece about motherhood yesterday about which I was the most nervous I’ve been about sharing so far. I really felt like I was making myself quite vulnerable in sharing it, just because I was writing from the standpoint that my experience was common, when I’m not sure that it is.

What I do notice, though, is that with each of these pieces I write, I’m discovering that I do indeed still have plenty to say in my “real writing.” My real voice is not gone, even though I didn’t do any of that type of writing for at least ten years. I think the key to writing in my “real” voice is that I’m not concerned with whether or not I make money from it. If I happen to make any, great, but that just can’t be my primary focus or I suspect my throat will figuratively close up again.

Interestingly, I actually shared the link to that article with my youngest son, too. That’s remarkable for two reasons: I’ve never shared anything I’ve written with my kids, and he’s the only one that seems like he would even be interested in reading what I write in my “real” writing voice.

He’s also the only one of my kids with whom I’ve shared the details of my long-awaited diagnoses. The other kids know that I’ve received the diagnoses but don’t seem too curious about them at this point. Maybe they’re scared and my husband’s cancer is all that they can deal with and maybe my youngest just has more emotional strength to face it. I don’t know if it’s that or if they’re just genuinely uninterested.

Sharing both my writing in my real voice and the details of my diagnoses are acts that make me feel vulnerable. And for many reasons, I trust him with that level of vulnerability in a way that I don’t as much with the other kids.

Of course, I’m also trying to be very mindful of how much they want me to share. My mother-in-law was and is a famous oversharer and J didn’t always enjoy that while growing up, to say the least. You have to be conscientious about how much your kids want to know.

To be honest, I don’t really know what this means about my relationships with each of the kids, if anything. I do know that with three kids, they have each been my favorites at separate times in their lives, so everyone has had a turn at that, and that always happened quite organically and without forcing anything.

I guess to continue my motherhood article, I’m just in a season in which I gel the most in a very natural way with my youngest. I also feel like he knows me the best out of all the kids.

My oldest and I have a sort of closeness, but our personalities are often very similar. As the oldest children in our families, we are both headstrong and stubborn and have difficulty accepting help, even when we really need it. We both tend to prefer to struggle alone rather than accept it when people offer help. Sometimes that leads to clashes between us, and I often find myself trapped in the same types of communication/miscommunication loops that happen with my mom.

My middle child was so secretive for so long that I just now feel like I’m beginning to get to know her, through the small bits of information that she doles out. I know that in her case, at least, a lot of the secrecy was due to being trans. But I sense both that she’s still a little wary about opening up to me, and also that maybe while she’s just beginning the transition process is not a time when she can extend much more to me than she already is.

But my youngest child is also the most like my husband of all the kids and therefore, our relationship is easier and more natural. Misunderstandings are always cleared up easily and without drama. He genuinely accepts me as I am and seems to care about me a lot, and the feeling is mutual.

That’s not to say that I don’t accept my other kids as they are or that I don’t care about them; I do. But I’m not always so sure it’s reciprocated, at least not in the same way it is with my youngest or to equal degrees.

And of course, because motherhood always means questioning yourself (assuming that you care about how you’re doing as a mom), I wonder if the relationship with my youngest really is different, or if we just continually reinforce the behaviors that keep us close.

There’s also the fact that my two older kids are both trans, and I have no idea how or if that affects our relationships. They both know that they have my overwhelming support and acceptance, just as they are. But often that seems like it’s not enough, and I’m not sure if that’s because they’re trans or if it’s something I screwed up in our relationship or what.

I can’t and won’t try to predict the future, but if I had to venture a guess based on how things are now, I think my youngest will likely continue to be an active part of my life even as he becomes a more established adult (keeping in mind that I also know he’ll naturally have less time for me, which will pretty much begin as soon as he goes off to college this fall.)

Still, at this point, he’s the only one I can see ever calling me to ask for advice. And he’s the only one that I think will be genuinely concerned about how I’m doing.

Of course, any of this could change. Once my daughter moves out (supposedly predicted to be in the next month or two), maybe she’ll eventually get to missing her mom. Maybe my relationship with my middle daughter will change, both as she goes through transition and when she’s the only one of my kids still living at home.

Still, I can’t help but feel vaguely guilty. I tried to be just as good of a mom to each of them but that didn’t guarantee closeness with each of them. It makes me wonder what I did wrong. But at least the fact that my youngest IS close to me makes me think that maybe I didn’t do anything wrong…at least for a minute, until my doubts take over again.

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