Sunday, September 20, 2009

Honesty and privacy

I kept a journal from the ages of 13 to 18, pouring my thoughts and dreams and aspirations, my observations of myself and others, and my spare story ideas into its pages. I got the idea from three sources: a friend who journaled (as her mother journaled before her), the diary of Anne Frank (which I first read at age 12) and the published journals of my favourite author, L.M. Montgomery.

While two of those journals were published works, only one of these authors had ever written a journal with some awareness it might later be published. Montgomery kept detailed and voluminous handwritten journals, but she later meticulously typed and edited volumes for publication after her death. Although she tried very hard to be honest and bare in her edited version, leaving little out, there are things she dropped for public consumption. Most of these had to do with her son Chester, who turned out to be a major disappointment to her.

When I started this blog almost three years ago, it had a purpose: to give an honest and thorough account of a woman alone with three children in the sub-Arctic for five months, while her husband attempted to pass Basic Officer Training with the Canadian Forces. I think I gave a fairly honest and accurate account of that experience, while also posting pictures of the children Hubby could enjoy whenever he got five minutes in front of a computer.

When we were reunited and moved, the purpose of this blog changed. It became more of a personal ranting and writing spot, a place to share thoughts and ideas, religious beliefs and personal causes. I think it is less successful in this, less satisfying to the reader, but for the few who read, it suffices.

Back when I was a reporter (I shall return...), I often told people new to the reporting process who were telling me personal stories to self-edit. "I have every right to ask you any question I please, and you have every right to refuse to answer it," I would say. "Edit yourself before you say it, because once I know it, it's too late. Take your time and think about what you want to tell me about you, but be as honest as you can be." People always appreciated the advice.

I find I often self-edit on this blog, and leave out ideas I would love to write about. Although I have many reasons for this, the main one is simple: I don't want to hurt someone in my life.

So I limit what I write about the children's misbehaviour as they grow. I leave out information I don't want extended family members to discover. I curtail my need to write about some relationships. In the end, protecting others' privacy is worth it.

But I admire writers who write without fear of the consequences. I think they give the rest of us the gift of truth about our shared human experience.

So if you wonder why I haven't written lately, I probably have a blog post I am dying to share... but I've curtailed myself.

I think I need to restart my paper and pen journal.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

To the military families...

... especially those who have sacrificed their loved ones for the rest of us.

Hubby sails back in two days. Can't wait.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Revenge of the school-supply-crazed mommy

I'm sitting here, on a perfectly fine Thursday evening, with all of the children in bed and fresh ideas for my book.

But can I settle in for an evening of writing? No.

I have to sharpen 72 pencils before school starts on Tuesday. Why? The teacher said so on the supply list. The hateful, dreaded, crazy-making supply list. The one that asks for two, yes, two pencil sharpeners with lids, but also demands all the pencils be sharpened.

Another mother has channelled many of my feelings about the supply list so much better than I can while sharpening 72!! PENCILS. Go on over to her blog and enjoy her revenge fantasy.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

American stroller

The Hubby has been away for a month on the final sail of his officer training. Although he has been home for the occasional weekend, and will be home for a few more, I am essentially alone for a full seven weeks. No biggie; it's just part of Navy life.

While Hubby has been gone, my house and budget have decided to self-destruct. The computer, BBQ and washer all broke within a few days of each other, wiping out what little savings I had left from a rather expensive last six months.

We're broke. I could barely afford my school supplies this year ($226 for supplies and shoes for 2 kids, and a backpack and shoes for Toddler N.'s preschool. Insane.) In order to save money, I went through the children's closets and fall/winter gear meticulously, compiling a comprehensive list of what they need in clothing. Except for Super A., they don't need much, thanks to the magic of sibling- and neighbour-hand-me-downs.

"Great," I thought as I hung the list on the fridge. "$150 should do for everything else they need, including rain boots and winter mitts."

This past weekend, the Hubby sailed into Olympia, Washington. He had some time off on Saturday, so he did a bit of shopping and toured the town via bus. He knows about the money situation, so he virtuously limited his personal spending.

A very pregnant, very young woman boarded the crowded bus, and C. got up and offered his seat. She took it and thanked him, and he struck up a conversation. She started telling him about her current situation -- just left an nasty boyfriend, no real home, staying at a relative's house and trying to afford what she needs to bring a baby into the world.

Now, before I go any further, you need to know something about the Hubby. He truly feels pregnant women should be treated very well by everyone around them. He feels it is the most beautiful and amazing time in a woman's life, and that all pregnant women should feel special, because they are. He was (generally) ridiculously doting whenever I was pregnant. So I know this girl's story must have cut him to the quick.

He asked her what she still needed. She replied she had clothes, a bassinet and a crib, all secondhand, and all she needed was a car seat/stroller combo. She was looking to get them secondhand, too.

At that moment, a Bible verse popped into his head, the one about how hard it is for a rich man to get into Heaven, harder than a camel going through the eye of a needle. And although he knew I might kill him, he said, "Let's go to Target and get you a new one. On me."

So that's what he did. He took this young woman to the store and spent $150 on a car seat/stroller travel system.

He bundled up his courage and called me the next day.

I admit it. I yelled at him. But it was half-hearted, because how do you yell at a man who loves women and children so much that he bought a lonely and hurting stranger a stroller, even as he knew it would cause some financial troubles for us? How can I not respect, admire and love him for that?

Jesus teaches us to give the coat off our backs and the food from our hands to other people who need it more than we do, to give until it sincerely hurts. On Sunday, my husband became one of the few Christians I've ever met who actually did it.

I'm proud to be his wife.