The other day one of my boys said something so earnest, so honest, so…insulting really, that I wanted to rush straight to Facebook to post it so all the world could see a bit of my world more clearly. It was funny, all centred around a new dress I had bought for a wedding. The exchange said something amazing about him, about me (and my hair, and my old red housecoat, I’ll say that much), and about the relationship between mother and son.
It was too good not to use. It was too precious to use. As the internal wrestling match flipped and flopped inside me, I was reminded of Richard Foster’s insight that some things are given just to us. That we don’t have to write about everything.
I think that writers might disagree about this. Anne LaMott has said that if you didn’t want to be written about, you should have been nicer. Nora Ephron wrote about watching her mother in a hospital bed riddled with cancer. Her mother told her to take notes so she could write about it later.
It is true that for a writer everything is potential material. It’s also true that some events and people simply shape us. They can be the water that flows into our roots. That’s what my son offered to me that day. Water that made me appreciate his wonderful heart and his non-filtered mouth, all at the same time.