My Winnipeg

My Winnipeg is an art movie that is about place and personal emy winnipeg my winnipegmories. At its root, the film depicts the family home as a place of great love and sorrow ( a brother’s suicide) and this tragedy clings to the young artist for life. He tells about this “being stuck in family sorrow” retrospectively, using actors, embedding the personal in the cultural/commununal and realism in the fantastic. All these elements render art, yet do not remove the human story from life pulse.

OK mommy bloggers: what would you do with a death of near family member?. If you use a blog to ruminate, isn’t the relationship between event and participant too close? the voice and perspective too vulnerable and intimate, with no saving ironies to make “story”?

My Winnipeg (2007) Poster


mommy bloggers as archivists: memory keepers

The family house is full of happy memories. Yes? And yet. . . It is also a place of sadnesses–and this can be treated as a kind of difficult knowledge. People in power (moms as writers)need to take care. The video is not offered here as disproportionate parallel to link holocaust to home:   but the link intitiates  an interesting point of comparison. To be careful trading in family secrets.  To let people tell their own stories and choose silences.

How the video fits/helps? This man with memories is able to reflect on meaning and past and then to share it with dignity and hope. He took time to think about what to divulge and how to offer it in a useful way. “You have a very well thought out narrative.” What if  a blogger had talked for him?? What of blogging this experience, adding an element of immediacy and reporting? Story is itself a funny reassuring word for this difficult memory sharing. I am suggesting more of what we go through needs to be regarded as serious and owned.

how to curate/interpret difficult knoweldge

. .

I also heard the CBC broadcast about mom putting her child on a diet, telling about it, then being concerned and surprised that many objected to her actions in relation to imposing a diet.

Is it imposing the diet or telling about it all? About her child’s struggle?

I do a lot of things that people would criticize if they were to know.
For example, sometimes when I’m mad I swear at my children. And in day to day life, I don’t often swear, so it’s weird and horror show like– like a demon gets hold of me. If I reveal this character flaw, I expect people might (even should) be critical. But if my children told this story, and others tsk- tsked, I think I could even be forgiven for blazing in anger.The trouble would be their telling on me. I like my privacy. I can talk about private me: Nobody else can!

And the other part of this “tacit bargain” is that I can’t tell the things I know about my kids, nor even about anything I may have done for them that is confidential–things done in trying to respond to their needs, not done as drama for prime time.

It seems so simple. We have this blog tool for talking tell-all at our fingertips. But we need some discretion. When I meet friends, I seldom tell all about my family. I talk too much about me, yes, but others’ secrets or private sides are inviolate, a sacred trust. Now there’s a sonorous phrase, we could dust it off and apply to taking care of family.
This of course is wildly prescriptive. I am not listening to the blogging community or recording their sense of where to draw the line. I don’t know if I can. I am madly impatient today and feeling in a save the world mood. We do know somethings. For example, it’s a fact for me that caring for others means not telling their stories. Silences and respect.
AHAh–we are curators of difficult knowledge in the home–a tantalizing theoretical thread to follow–curatorial practises and atrocities–MOMS as memory keepers! There is the already written bestseller, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, which when I read it was just a title. I must remember how that worked, fictionally. Do you know it?

Invading our children’s privacy

I really enjoy listening to The  Current on CBC Radio One as I drive into work. This week, on Monday Febraury 4, the program broadcast an episode entitled “The Heavy: A Mother, A Daughter, A Diet”

The show, hosted by Anna Maria Termonti, delves into the experience of Dara-Lynn Weiss, the mother who put her 7-year old clinically obese daughter on a diet and wrote the book The Heavy documenting their journey. Dara-Lyn speaks with Anna Maria about the response she recieved from other parents while she was helping her child struggle with obesity by monitoring and restricting her food intake, as well as the ways in which she has been challenged for writing about it in Vogue Magazine. 

What I found most intersting about the show was the way in which the panelists Shelly Russell-Mayhew, a registered psychologist and Associate Professor of educational psychology at the University of Calgary, and Tom Warshawski, a pediatrician and Chair of the Childhood Obesity Foundation, evaded talking about the issue of parents invading their children’s privacy through this type of disclosure. Questions were directly asked of them by Anna Maria after a third panelist Katrina Onstad, a journalist, author and the editor of two collections of essays on motherhood Because I Love Her and Between Interruptions, introduced the issue.

Onstad noted her discomfort with the ways in which some parents tell the stories of children without their permission. She further suggests that when parents tell the stories of their children they are comodifying their children’s childhood and turning their lives into an entertainment show. She also wonders if 10 years down the road we won’t see the effects of professional writing about our children’s lives and warns that the electronic footprints of such public stoies about a child’s private struggles can’t be scrubbed away.

I’ve been asking the same types of questions about the responsibility and accountablilty of parents who blog about their children, who post photos of their children on line, and who disclose information about their children without their children’s consent or without their children understanding the complexities of posting stories about them for the world to read, see and judge.

I, too, wonder what the response will be of those same children when they are old enough to understand the consequences of their parents’ actions that have shown little regard for their privacy or agency. I fear for the emotional well being of the children, for the relationships between children and parents, and for the parents down the line.

While this is an uncomfortable conversation to have, I believe we need to think about the ways in which we dis/respect our children through our actions as adults and parents and talk about how we may go about making changes in our behaviour and attitudes that  honour the privacy and dignity of children.