Dialing It Back

Navigating the divide between your personal goals and what is in the best interest of your children is a constant work in progress.  It’s never complete; and each new turn brings up previously unforeseen complications.

That I love to write is no secret.  What may be “the secret,” however, is why I do it.  While occasionally what I have written has garnered the attention and interest of others, the reason I am compelled to sit down at the keyboard every night is simple: I write for my children.  Every letter I type, every sentence I string together is with the thought that I am in some small way making their lives easier.

We are an adoptive family; and because of that fact we face challenges different from those faced by biological families.  Our son has epilepsy and ADHD; and because of those facts we face challenges different from those who are not contending with those conditions.   I write about the life we live because I want to share a reality that would otherwise be shrouded from others and by doing so hope to dispel misconceptions.  I write to remove some of the brambles and stones that line our family’s path so that when my children walk it, it can be with a higher head and a firmer step.

The fact that this work has led to other opportunities has been largely positive.  Reaching a larger audience means the actualization of my goal is enhanced.  The more people who read or hear my meager words, the more who will potentially understand the beauty of adoption, the trials and tribulations and tremendous victories that exist when your child is battling serious health conditions and learning differences.

What is not always positive, however, are people’s comments.  While I am always interested in what people think and appreciate the boundless support and camaraderie I have experienced through my writing, I don’t write about my family to hear other people’s criticism or, worse, diagnoses from afar.  Our twenty-first-century world has allowed the great mass of the anonymous to pontificate immediately and readily from behind a keyboard, brandishing whatever vitriol suits their fancy and never even having to sign their name.

The issue, indeed the problem, though, is exacerbated when you are writing for your children, when your writing is the legacy you are choosing to leave to those you love most.  My sons, in reading the words I have written for them, to them, won’t be able to escape the accompanying comments—the comments that occasionally question their mother’s parenting, the attempts to analyze anonymously and from afar their complex circumstances.

My skin is not so thin that I seek to avoid criticism at all costs.  I understand if you put something out there, you open yourself up to commentary.  I understand that when people are permitted to respond immediately and namelessly, the potential for ill-informed if not malicious commentary is very real. And I understand that it’s in any writer’s best interest to ignore most comments and to persevere.  I understand that if you walk away, the denigrators win.

But, you see, this is not a contest—a me against them struggle of sorts.  This is one mother writing for her three children who does not want her sons to read the nastiness that some people feel passes for intelligent commentary, one mother who does not have the inclination let alone the energy to take on every unfortunate remark.  Yes, I could explain to my sons that this is the cost of sharing our story, that these things happen.  I could tell them that years ago if someone had an opinion on an article they read, they had to write a letter, put it in an envelope, stamp it, and walk to the mailbox.  They had to sign their name.  And even then there was no guarantee it would be printed.  I could tell them that today articles get linked on Facebook or other sites and anyone can comment—impulsively and, as long as they don’t swear or otherwise violate the terms of use, malevolently.

And as I sit here tonight listening to my sons playing in the other room, I think that though this is their world, they did not ask for my participation in it.  This isn’t just my story; it’s ours.

I will continue to write because I have to.  My blog will exist because it belongs to my children.  But beyond that—the world where it’s all about how many “Likes” you have, how many visitors have clicked on your page—is no longer for me.  Today comments that would never have been published in the past because they did nothing to advance any conversation, intelligent or otherwise, are allowed to subsist online for all to see—all in the name of acquiring and hanging onto followers.  And if you want to write, it seems as though you have to live in this world.

That is, of course, unless you refuse.

And I refuse.

Maybe we all should.

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3 thoughts on “Dialing It Back

  1. Hi Samantha, we have never met. I am a “want to be adoptive mother”. We are trying to decide our adoption path. I have been reading and love to read your blog. I thank for sharing your stories of parenting and of your amazing three boys. You make me think of things I would have never thought of. Most of all you make me want to pursue adoption even more. I can only imagine what people write namelessly. You write about your life from your heart and I really do hope the boys one day will only see that and not the anonymous cowardly judgements that so many people love to share on the World Wide Web.

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