Rachel “Bunny” Lowe Lambert Lloyd Mellon, the horticulturalist and art collector turned second wife of philanthropist and horse breeder, Paul Mellon, became famous for her best friendship with First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. (Lord, what a mouthful.)
In the time she spent with Jackie redesigning the White House Rose Garden, she shared her secrets for staying out of the public eye while maintaining an influential role in society. In her old-fashioned correctness, she told friends that “a woman’s name should appear in print exactly three times: when she makes her debut, when she marries, and when she dies.”
The rest, darling, isn’t to be shared.
I read about “Bunny” in an article in the July issue of Town & Country magazine, which questioned whether people can maintain any sort of solitude in the glare of social media. If you can Google your own name and not find any information, then you have achieved the nearly impossible dream.
In this day, most (if not all) girls make their “debuts” via Facebook. And once they’re out, there’s no going back.
I talked about this with Ava, who is 11 years old and doesn’t have a social media presence (other than what I publish). Most of the girls she knows already have Instagram sites, and a few have Facebook pages or Twitter accounts. She’s never asked for anything other than access to Pinterest so she can surf pictures of her favorite musicians. We agreed in order to save our bedroom walls from hideous posters of British boy bands.
Ava sees how much I’m online, posting comments and uploading pictures, and fiddling with different filters to make shots look their best. She also knows that I landed assignments from USA TODAY simply by maintaining a LinkedIn profile, and she’s aware that I blog about our family every week in the Daily Mail’s online edition. It doesn’t bother Ava — in fact, she’s proud of her old mom — but she doesn’t want to call attention to herself. Like her father, she just doesn’t care to share.
And there’s something to be said for the girl who says nothing at all.
“I think those sites can cause trouble,” she said to me one night when we were up late talking.
“How so?” I asked.
“It just seems like girls get into a lot of fights over things that are posted.”
True, I admitted. Girls and boys have to be very careful about what they put out there.
“I just like being quiet.”
I wish I had that skill. Some people have described my writing as “brave” and “gutsy” and “always honest”, but it’s also risky to reveal so much. It’s a call for reaction — and criticism.
We talked about the concept of privacy for a long time, and I realized that she’s entering a stage of life that is full of sensitive matters. As a writer who observes everyday life and analyzes its oddities, it’s very hard not to turn motherhood into material. As playwright Nora Ephron said so expertly, “Everything in life is copy.” And she’s absolutely correct.
But maybe it shouldn’t be.
After a few sleepless nights, I’ve decided to end my run writing for The Mommyhood. It has been a difficult decision that makes me sad, but I feel like I need to let our rising sixth grader have some breathing room. She and her younger sister have belonged to the world for nearly four years, and while I have enjoyed every second of sharing this cherished life with you, I think it’s time to bring it back home.
Giving up this blog is a lot like giving a baby up for adoption. For a journalist, an essayist or a diarist, a column in any form is a coveted space. I am very grateful that a friend pitched one of my pieces to Brad McElhinny and encouraged him to give my work a closer look, and I am so appreciative of the Daily Mail staffers who made me feel like one of them.
Of course, I have to give thanks to my girls, who provided more than a half-million words under my fingers. In return, I plan to print every post and have two copies bound, which will be saved for when they become mothers. This blog has chronicled a large part of their childhood, but also the phases of motherhood that I hope they’ll refer to one day.
Finally, I thank you, dear readers, who have clicked my links every Monday, “liked” them, favorited them, forwarded them, and provided tremendous support through comments and replies. Parenting is a lonely job at times, but I rarely felt that way. Each time I signed on, there was always someone there to give me a much-needed thumbs up.
Bright and early this morning, I was waiting for the “pop” of sealed jars containing homemade strawberry jam. I sat at the computer and scrolled through shots on Pinterest – everything from Kate Middleton and baby George to sweet George Harrison. Then, I stumbled upon a quote attributed to Emma Watson, most famously known as Hermione Granger of the Harry Potter series. It’s hard to tell if she actually mouthed the following words, but I sent the pin to Ava anyway. It said:
THE LESS YOU REVEAL, THE MORE PEOPLE CAN WONDER.
And as my girls enter the reality show of adolescence, I pray they’ll choose to remain a bit of a mystery.
Note: Katy Brown may be leaving her regular spot in The Mommyhood, but you can continue to follow her lifestyle blog, House Kat. It’s a peach!