As a mother now myself I’m learning that mothers are human. When I found my mother’s diary, and immediately closed it, I did so because I wanted my mother to stay just the way she was in my memory: my mother. I didn’t want to see her as a woman struggling with life and death, depression, dating, and divorce. My mother was never a woman to me, she was a superhero, even though I was always aware of her flaws and shortcomings. While I conceptually realize that my mother was a human being, I don’t want to alter my memories of my childhood to include her personal struggle. Perhaps that’s selfish, but I know that my mother wanted my memories to be built in such a way, and I plan to give my daughter and G-d willing, future children, that same gift. If I had read my mother’s innermost thoughts, either in her diary or if she had maintained a “mommy blog,” that gift would have vanished.
In the last months of her life, my mother started to tell me, over and over, that having me was the best thing she ever did. Now that I’m a mother, I know that she wasn’t just being nice. I am thankful for her having told me so, and for doing it so often. I am thankful that I grew up in an era before mommy blogging and social media, where every detail of my mother’s perspective is instead inside a book that can be closed and put away. I controlled the pages of the diary; they were not freely available for the world to read as an open tab next to the CNN and ESPN homepages. Motherhood is a struggle just as most blessings and rewarding experiences are, but I’m glad that I will never know about hers, nor will anyone else.