“How would you feel if we went all day tomorrow without any TV or internet at all?”
It was late one Friday night, and my husband’s question had come out of nowhere. One minute I was half-asleep and contemplating the softness of my pillow, the next I found my brain inundated with protests. What if someone has a message for me? What about my photo project? How will people contact me?
So naturally I said, “that sounds like a wonderful idea, dear.”
My first problem came that morning. I hadn’t realized that we’d run out of the pancake mix we’d gotten one Christmas in a gift basket, and do you think I could ever remember the right ratios of dry ingredients? Ha! After scrambling through even the most unlikely cookbooks, I finally gave up and announced that we’d just do bacon and eggs instead.
“Why don’t you call my sister and ask?”
Seriously? Had it honestly taken my husband’s suggestion for me to even consider phoning for help? Granted, I felt a little silly asking for it, but not as silly as I was feeling for becoming so dependent on the internet…even for making PANCAKES of all things.
That realization was probably the most difficult part of living without the virtual world. Once I reset my thinking a little (to how it was when I had AOL dial-up and it really was faster to just call someone), and besides a little pang when I realized I would not be cataloging my significant yarn stash (to keep track of it on Ravelry) the day went much better…until about 4pm.
Honestly, I know this is my danger zone. Between 4 and 5pm I’m feeling tired, my blood sugar levels are crying out for attention, and I would really love it if I could just take a nap around then (and I would, except that’s not how my kids’ schedules run…’cause if they did, life would just be too easy). Most of the time now I handle it fine, because I’ve learned to have a quiet time before I get to that point. I put Ana down for a nap, I put James in his room to play, and I decompress for a little while. Usually this means getting some stuff done around the house, having some tea, then either knitting or poking around on the internet for a bit. When that doesn’t really work out, I ruefully give James the iPad (yes…iPad…more on that some other time) or let him watch a movie, and continue on with my decompressing routine.
Well, that day, of course, quiet time wasn’t working out. I know, I know…I’ve become far too dependent on that media-laden backup plan…so instead my son followed me around, asking me “what’re you doing, mommy?” every three minutes, used the potty about six times in a one-hour period (not because he needed to pee every time, mind you), making messes where I had just cleaned, and generally doing everything that I need quiet time to take a break from. I need to preface this next part with the promise that, for the first three-quarters of the hour, I was SO patient about it. I answered every question, I cleaned up every mess, I helped him onto the potty without complaint. My tea sat on its little table and got cold, my knitting untouched, my mind unrested.
Then, I snapped at him. Just SNAPPED.
I won’t even write what I said, because it embarrasses me to think about it. It’s nothing parents haven’t said to their kids before…but it was in that acid tone, and it came out of nowhere…and then I checked out. I sat down with my knitting and flat-out refused to even acknowledge the rest of the world for another hour…and I spent the last part of that hour crying, because I felt like the worst human being alive. And I cried on and off for the rest of the evening, because I felt like I’d ruined our family day. (yes, I am a basket case sometimes)
So, it was time to humble myself. (I’m really thankful for my forgiving family.) I went into my son’s room and hugged him, told him how sorry I was…and he cried. A relieved, unburdened cry. And I cried with him. I felt like our hearts were simultaneously breaking and healing together…and I realized how much I had underestimated his ability to understand the matters of the heart. Only three years old, and yet he seemed to understand so clearly my sorrow and his own relief at my repentance.
I also realized just how much of an opportunity I have right now to nurture his character. To be honest, I’d always assumed that all I could teach him right now was how to say “please” and “thank-you”, to not hit or push other kids, and to share. But what I learned that day blew that out of the water. Every day, RIGHT NOW, I am teaching him. It’s bewildering and humbling and inspiring…and it makes me so thankful that I can pray and have faith that God will fill in the gaps I will surely leave.
So, was our media-free day a success? Absolutely. It was far more emotional than I expected, and it featured one of my worst moments as a mother to date…but we all did a lot of learning that day. So much that we’re going to do it again. Probably one Saturday a month. I would love to say “every Saturday,” but with so much of my photography schooling and work happening on Saturdays right now it just seems like I would be cheating.
Now I’m going to breathe a huge sigh of relief for getting this out, brew myself a pot of tea, then go to bed. Thanks for being a listening ear.