I can’t tell you.

by Alicia on June 27, 2017

I wanted this space to grow with my kids. Tell their stories and the story of my motherhood and how those two things grow together, just like when they were little.

But I didn’t know these girls then. My girls. I didn’t know them. I couldn’t have predicted who they would become and how they would grow up into people I’m now meeting for the first time.

When they were little, I could tell you all about the choices I made in parenting them, how I came to my conclusions, how I fucked up, how they reacted, what we all learned, and how things were going to go looking forward. I always thought this space would continue to hold those stories as they grew. But it can’t. I want so badly to keep talking about mothering these incredible girls, because writing it is how I sort out my experience with it. Writing is how I articulate and learn from what I experienced.

But writing about them now feels unsafe. Or at least, it feels presumptuous and intrusive.

higgisonladies2017I’m parenting the hardest I have ever parented. These issues we deal with are Big Fuckin Deals. The words I say now will be the things they talk about on scholarship applications and, for better or worse, the voices inside their heads when they’re fighting with their roommates, or deciding whether they really like this boyfriend/girlfriend. These talks we have are about their bodies, their self-image, trusting their inner voice. I cannot presume to know anymore what that inner voice can, should, would be. I cannot tell you details about their lives because they don’t belong to me. Not the children nor the details.

And it’s hard. Because raising daughters brings up a lot of feelings about my own self. Part of my hesitation of telling them anything is because I wish I could tell myself those things and believe it, all while I’m hoping they trust me. When I’m talking, I’m not drawing from some brain library of knowledge I’ve handcrafted. I just tell them what I wanted to/ still right now want to hear. So I never know if they think I’m full of shit, if they think I’m way off, if they think I’m brilliant, if they can use what I tell them. There’s no wealth of knowledge to apply. And this is why.

Because I can’t out my daughters. I can’t tell their secrets. I can’t use their actual life as a handbook for you because they didn’t sign up for that. They haven’t given me permission, and they don’t know enough about their future to assess if they would regret giving me permission to share now. And I couldn’t write it anyway, I’d have to let them do it because my voice is the side story now. These girls have their own stories, that aren’t fully entangled with mine. Most of my stories have to do with them, most of what I love to talk about starts and ends with them. They do not feel the same about me. And I can’t ask them to let me take over their stories and shape their thoughts, in order to make the verbs pliable for a generation of mothers like me who want to know The Right Way To Do This.

I don’t know what that is, The Right Way. I can’t tell you.

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