Some of my readers are aware of my Ayelet thing. Ayelet and I have about one degree of separation. She went to summer camp with my college roommate. We went to college not 30 miles from each other at the same time. She lives in the city where I used to live. Among her close friends are another woman I went to college with and a close friend of a close friend who used to eat at S’s restaurant when we lived in that city (which of course would be
Once Ayelet started blogging, I realized that she knew other friends of friends (how? because she blogged about them). Her older daughter--in the blog and as Ruby, her fictional doppelganger in Ayelet’s Mommy-Track Mysteries--bears a striking resemblance to my older daughter. We even started blogging around the same time, though she quickly became a blog superstar and then just as quickly stopped, and I have not become a blog superstar and have not stopped. Then there is the fact that we are both 40-year-old short Jewish women with medium-length brown hair, like a lot of other people I’m sure we both know.
Of course, there are significant differences between us, like she’s a novelist and I’m not, and she's married to a famous novelist and I'm not, and she has a column in Salon and I don’t. Which means I know a fair amount about her and she doesn’t know I exist. But that's not my point here.
I thought about Ayelet when I wrote about M ignoring me because I was never quite comfortable with how she wrote about her kids in her blog. Once I started reading the blog regularly, my conviction that Ayelet and I were meant to be best friends only we haven’t met yet waned. I was still impressed with how smart she is and I still think we have a lot in common, but she’s crazier than I am--and takes the medications to prove it, and talks loudly about the medications that prove it. Basically, I found her degree of self-exposure discomfiting. I’m fine with her doing it, but I wouldn’t do it myself.
I was more disturbed by the way she exposed her kids. She wrote about how her younger daughter is the pretty dumb one and about how ugly her youngest son is. The tone was obviously loving and joking, but still, there it was, on the internet, for anyone, including her kids, to find. She also wrote about being mean, really mean, to her oldest daughter, and there she wasn’t joking, though she was loving and sad.
In her first column for Salon, Ayelet wrote about why she stopped blogging. She says that she didn’t let her kids see the blog, although she also continues to write about them in the column, again in ways that feel pretty exposed to me. Subsequently she was flayed and then defended by Salon’s readers, with a vituperation that amazed me, even given my own unease with her choices. There’s no question that it’s still hard to be an honest woman. (Though my sympathy was definitely pushed to its limit by her essay in last Sunday's Times about how she loves her husband more than her kids. Sometimes honesty is the best advertisement for silence as the best policy.)
The thing is, I do let my kids read my blog, though usually they’re not interested. And whenever I write about them, I think first about whether I’d be ok with them reading what I’m going to write. If I wouldn’t want them to see it, I don’t write it. Same thing with S. Same thing with my mom (which means, alas, that my teenage sexual escapades will remain unblogged, which is probably for the best). This is how I choose to blog, and it works for me and my family.
I have been very upfront with M about how her behavior is driving me crazy. I’ve yelled at her in the moment, and, once I’ve calmed down, I’ve explained to her why I respond the way I do. It’s not really helping, but at least she knows how I feel. That’s why I can blog it. I’m not saying this to be prescriptive, because I try to respect other people’s choices. I just wanted to share my thoughts because, well, because I had them.
[And if you want hilarious snark on Ayelet loving her husband more than her kids, this is the place (link from Andi). Make sure you read the Salon column and the Times essay first, if you haven't already. Mom, you can skip this one too.]