Back in early May the writer's group I'm involved with met at Ballydoyle's Irish Pub in downtown Aurora. Somehow the conversation shifted to the topic of parenthood. All of us in attendance are/were married. What I found interesting was that of the 6 of us-- 3 of us had opted to have children and the other 3 had not.
One of the things that came up were people who let their children's lives consume them. We all know people like this. They are our bright, energetic, interesting friends. As soon as they have children, our friends disappear. They cease to exist on their own terms and become extensions of their children.
There's nothing wrong with parents being active in the lives of their children. They should be, but not at the expense of their identity and sense of self. Admittedly some aspects of this conversation made me uncomfortable. From the moment I became an uncle, just shy of 5 years old I knew I wanted to someday be a parent. I've grown up with my nieces and nephews. I babysat some of them, changed a few diapers, fed a few of them... all long before I was ever married, let alone before my own daughter was born.
While I don't want to lose my sense of self and don't believe I have, the moment my daughter was born all of the other aspects of what make me who I am faded into the background a bit. That moment I'd been waiting for since I'd become an uncle for the first time all those years before was there and it exceded all of my wildest expectations.
I've attempted writing about parenthood in the past, I'm generally reluctant to do so though. It's not that I don't like discussing that aspect of who I am it's more that I feel no matter how hard I try no words can do justice to what I feel and what I'm trying to describe. It's almost ironic-- the one facet of my personality I feel is most important is the one that often leaves me at a loss for words.
I also tend to consider myself a somewhat private person. Yes I do share a considerable amount of information, opinions, tastes and what not-- but I inevitably have control over what I do and don't share and I know that I rarely break down that wall when I write. There's a distance that I try to keep between myself and what I write whether it's on here, in my short stories, or in any of my other writing. I sometimes wonder if the barriers, the degrees of seperation between myself and my writing keep my writing from being as good as it might otherwise be. On a larger scale I wonder if those degrees of seperation keep me from being as good a "me" as I can be as I've come to realize I don't keep those barriers up merely in my writing I keep them up in my life.
If asked why, I guess I do this because I believe we all have to keep a piece of us that is ours and ours alone it's that piece of us that keeps us from completely losing that sense of self. Is it right or realistic to believe that the moment I open up that last bit of myself-- putting EVERYTHING on the table that I run the risk of someday losing that sense of self, that which makes me a unique individual? Is it selfish to keep a small piece of my identity to myself?