Blogging, Narcissism, and my Grandma

God I love blogging. I love looking back at snapshots of my life and my relationship with myself and my kids.

Is that narcissistic?

Yeah, actually. I think it might be. Just a little. But perhaps not more so than journaling (except perhaps that journaling is a private, meditative act and blogging is a public, dirty-laundry-airing act, at which I excel, thankyouverymuch).

My Grandma–Clara was her name–was a faithful journaler. Every day she’d write a little of what went on in her day:

October 18, 1946,

Cloudy today. Feels like more snows coming. John went into Munson today and wasn’t back until after supper. Bought Karen boots. Shot a coyote sneaking around the chickens. Repair chicken coop tomorrow. 

She wrote for years like that, most of her adult life. We found them, the stack of diaries she’d carefully kept, in a small credenza in her sewing room after she died. Reading them now is fantastic, like unearthing some glimpse into a foreign, ancient life. I feel strangely close to her reading her tiny bird-like scrawl across the page, suspecting that she wrote small to conserve paper (she was a fabulous conserver, she’d have put Al Gore to shame).

In fact, I feel closer to her now than I did when she was alive (and I loved her enormously before she died)–now that I’m a mother, and not unlike her, a sometimes frustrated, sometimes unfulfilled mother. My grandmother was an artist in her heart and in her soul, but in her life she was a small-town, lonely, disappointed farm-wife and mother. I think she lived, and died, resentful of how she lived. I think she wanted and needed more. She didn’t get it. Perhaps because of the time, perhaps because she didn’t know how, perhaps because she was denied it.  She lived out her resentment, often shown in the harsh, fierce entries in her journals. She felt cold, and that’s the way she wrote.

So I follow in her footsteps and write about myself and my life. Why? I don’t know. What compels me to take what small, precious time I have to spare and put my thoughts down? Maybe it’s a genetic compulsion. Maybe, fearing, knowing, we’re mortal, we try–from cave paintings to blogging–we try to preserve a part of ourselves, our history, to pass on who we are, not just what we’ve done or how to do it, to our children and the future.

Everywhere I go, everything I write or say, I take a part of Clara and Karen with me. These often troubled women and mothers who were and are my role models. They prop me up and, just because they were and are, make it possible for me to write and speak my mind. Yes, I’m just as often frustrated and unfulfilled as I am the opposite, but I write and rant and rave and scream above the din, and I love to do it. It makes me happy.

So am I a narcissist? or is this genetic?

What does it matter? My grandma would be glad that I’m finding joy (though it would probably piss her off a little too). I am, as she did, leaving my own small, sometimes crazy record, of who I am. And, like her own small message to the future, maybe, someday, this too will matter.

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