It matters how you choose to tell a story.
I grew up with a historian for a father and an English teacher for a mother, so I could hardly get away without picking up on this! I've been particularly aware of seeing this in action over the past couple of years as I worked on two self-publishing projects with my father. One project was organizing my mother's autobiographical writings -- how she chose to tell her story. The other was my father's biography of his parents and family. With the biography, I was privileged to see some of the selection process at work: how he organized details to support the themes he'd identified in his parents' lives, which stories he opted to present and which he considered presenting but decided not to include after all.
Of course, in blogging about our experiences with Joy, I'm doing that all the time. Choosing what is important enough to tell, and might inform or entertain or make you think or all of the above, and what's on my mind about Joy that I might appropriately process here, and what have I learned that I might usefully share with you, and what is the truth of our journey as I see it? (The latter of which may sound odd coming from behind a pseudonym, but that too is one reality of my particular mommy-blogging enterprise.)
I'm thinking about all this in context of a powerful post last week from the amazing Jess who writes of her beautiful daughter Brooke at a diary of a mom. And in fact, the title of the post was "Context." She writes of a birthday party where her daughter made some tremendous strides forward, but also sat apart from the group, with her differences written all over her face. The real story of the party, as Jess felt and experienced it, was the context and backdrop of difference. How hard it is, and will continue to be. Among several potential real stories, the hard story was the real one that day.
It resonates. (Just read the comments on the post if there were any doubt!)
It makes me think to ask: What is the real story with Joy?
We can choose how we story-tell on a blog -- but to what extent do we get to choose what is the real story?
We've had some radically-conflicting storylines to choose from here lately. Is the real story that Joy is getting more independent with the steps in her potty routine, and happily sitting much longer in the mornings (up to 15 minutes!)? Or is the real story that she hasn't actually produced on the pot for three weeks, and that she likes to splash the handwash-water and lick the liquid soap and drop things into the toilet?
Is the real story that she continues to imitate words, and play peek-games, and generally be more interactive? Or is it the upswing in aggressive behaviors that are causing her to lash out with hair-pulling and hitting at the least bit of frustration, catching peers and adults alike in her wrath, mere weeks before she starts kindergarten?
There are absolutely moments when it feels as if the real story is all about disability and difference and struggle and heartache.
But I personally feel a strong need to choose for a real story of hope, and progress on her own terms and at her own pace, and shining eyes and giggles and playful beeps on her sister's nose. If I let myself inhabit the darker story too much, too consistently, too often -- I'm afraid I won't be the person I want to be. Nor will I be the mother she needs me to be.
What do you think? To what extent do we get an authentic say in the choice of the real story?