If Only My Mom Could Have Found Your Blog (or Mine) When She Was Raising Me

Today something new is about to happen right here: I am going against the trend.

The trend against which I am pushing is the one where we all hate on our smart phones and rail against texting and being “plugged in.”  I Googled “get off your phone” and “unplugged parenting” and pages of blogs popped up.  I bet you’ve seen this one that made the rounds this spring.

My initial reaction to these sentiments was “How is this even a debate?  Don’t we all know that watching our kids learn to walk is better than checking Twitter?  Wouldn’t I rather see my child get over her rabid fear of dandelions than update my Facebook status?”

Of course. Of fucking course.

But, it’s actually not that black and white for me.

When I think of how isolated previous generations of mothers were, I thank my kind Maker for getting social media up and running before I procreated. Because if I had to do it like my mom did, I would be in an institution– and I’m not talking about an Ivy League university.

Here’s how my mom described her early motherhood:  She was home full-time with me and my brother, and we were born 14 months apart.  (Ouch.)  She had no family in town.  While she had friends, they were spread all over the greater Dallas metroplex.  There was no Gymboree or mom-and-tot yoga classes.  Our little suburban block was filled with octogenarians.  My dad left for sales calls and traveled a great deal.  There was also no Target down the street to while away a 107-degree August afternoon.

"If only there was a way to share this ennui with the world." -- 1975

“If only there was a way to share this ennui with the world.” — 1975

“For the love of Morgan Freeman’s character on Electric Company, what did you do?” I cried, trying to imagine being that….stuck.

“I just did my best,” giving the answer I know was true.

“Why didn’t you go anywhere?” I asked, trying to give my own mother advice about 38 years too late.

Ignoring my asshole-ish implication that she should have gotten up and out, she answered, “Every time I got one of you ready, the other one would poop, or cry, or spit up.  It was too much. I never went anywhere.”

“Nowhere?”

“Well, one time my friend Lynn called and said, ‘You’ve gotta get out. Get those kids dressed.  We’re going to Wal-Mart.’ So, we did it. You guys were probably 2 and 3 years old at the time.”

I tried to process this.  My mother quasi-homebound for 3 years? What did she do when I crapped on the shag carpet or my brother put Tang in her potted plants? She didn’t call anyone? What if she needed to remember the ingredients to that jello mold salad?

Family myth holds that I cried nonstop for about 4 years– how did she deal with that hour after hour alone within the four walls of our ranch house in Dallas?

Cried all the time.  All. The. Time.

Cried all the time. All. The. Time.

OH MY GOD THERE WAS NO COSTCO!  It’s too awful to even contemplate.  Where the hell did she get her 66 rolls of toilet paper or her clothes?  I die a little for her every time I think about this.

I wish for her that she could have logged on and found some of your blogs– like Welcome to the Motherhood or Honest Mom or Naptime Writing.  What if my mom could have known the love of Momalog or that zany delight, Let Me Start By Saying?  She could have had a community.  A few Tweets now and then might have felt like a hint from the universe that she wasn’t alone. Maybe having a Facebook account would have been a way to find moms who could have met her at the neighborhood park.

I wish for me that I don’t let my pendulum swing too far that I miss important things because I am mindlessly plugged in. I don’t mind plugging in sometimes (like now, for example), because a little Twitter break can set me back on my feet and lets me rejoin the action in my house with a present heart and mind.

What do you wish your mom could have blogged about? What do you wish she had when she was raising you?  If you could have referred your mom to one blog when she was busy raising you, which one would it be?

PS: Mom, next time I tell this story I might change your big outing from Wal-Mart to something more jazzy like the bowling alley, or something more indie, like the thrift store benefiting battered women.  Call me! We can discuss.

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49 thoughts on “If Only My Mom Could Have Found Your Blog (or Mine) When She Was Raising Me

  1. Thanks for writing this. I’m tired of being made to feel guilty for being connected (some of the time). It keeps me sane so I CAN be there for my child. And if it weren’t for my iPad entertaining my son with the latest Disney cartoon, road trips would be utter hell.

    My mom stayed at home with NO car when were preschoolers, and we didn’t get cable TV until we were teens. Insanity. And you know what? I can’t remember what we did all day, except play outside by ourselves or with neighborhood kids. So there. How’s that for being disconnected and making real, emotional connections? Childhood was great, but let’s be real here, today’s smart phones are just yesterday’s instructions to “go outside and play with your friends!” All parents need a break now and then.

  2. LOVE what Running El says – local moms talking about feeding schedules ain’t got nothing on the real connections I’ve made through social media. As crazy as that sounds, it’s true.

    You are a true pioneer spirit and I’m on board. Screw the judgments, social media is good for me and my kids will be better off. This community has gotten me through a lot so far!

  3. My oldest is 12. I had no social media when he was a baby (and I had DIAL UP internet). I tried a Gymboree class and was ready to slit my wrists by the time it was over. My social media outlet was Target. Truly, Target saved my life. I shall write a blog post about it later. I will. Wait until I blog about my mom’s life with children – living on a farm, no cable, no neighbors – it will make us all thank our lucky stars!

  4. I feel sorry for my 2008 self for only having a laptop to entertain myself while breastfeeding (how awkward! how bulky!) as opposed to my 2010 self who had an iPad. Being plugged in from time to time dilutes the monotony of motherhood of the stay-at-home variety. Less screaming at the children for just being their adorable, incessant, repetitive, selves. Less.

    • I also had a 2008 baby and now a 2012 baby. I remember reading blog posts on a crappy Blackberry that took 5 minutes to load. But I would try to pick websites with lots of comments, just so I had lots to read once it loaded. Backlit devices are perfect for breastfeeding in the middle of the night. Those were the bad old days. I love the iPad.

      But, agreed. I also hate the technology is bad thing. If I play with my kid on the playground equipment I’m a “helicopter parent” who won’t leave her child alone; if I read a book (or check twitter) on my cell phone, “I’m a bad parent for not leaving technology.” If I bring a magazine, I’m not eco-friendly. You can’t win.

      • Omg! I remember blackberries. I used to read blogs on the bberry too. Took all damn night. And you’re right. I can’t win so I might as well kick up my feet and read Oprah’s Magazine on the park bench.

  5. Agree! I admit I’ve felt sheepish or guilty explaining my adoption of blogging and Twitter to my husband since I started staying home. But I would go nuts without the outlet. Or, I would go bowling. (your post reminded me -that was my mother’s outlet. I spent many hours in the bowling alley daycare. Ahhh the 70s.)

    • My husband openly tells people that reading blogs kept me sane. It was my way to connect to “the outside world” and realize that other moms were going through exactly what I went through (and still am going through). I didn’t discover them until my youngest was close to 2, though. Before that I perfected playing Wii Sports while nursing because it kept my oldest occupied. Seriously. I had to relearn how to play once she weaned and wasn’t “in the way”.

  6. I felt like I was one of the few who read that post you linked to and thought “Yeah…if it weren’t for my Smartphone, these kids would have already been mailed to Kalamazoo”.
    Of course seeing them do real things in real time are Da Bomb. But so isn’t catching those things ON MY PHONE and pinging them over to my husband’s phone so he can see what he’s missing during the day. And then to my mom and his parents so these people who don’t live anywhere near us can witness those wonderful things, too.
    My blog started blowing up when I wrote a venting post about how awful it was to need my asshole to be cauterized and then sliced/diced in an OR because having children ruined it. I had no one to talk about this with. THOUSANDS in the blogosphere not only understood, but (over)shared their stories and made me feel less alone. I need the connections to know I’m not alone. I need to hear “Yep. My kid wrote a W on the wall with her feces, too.” I need to be plugged in.

    My mom was on her 2nd marriage. She had her own kid, 3 stepkids, then 2 more with my father. WTF was she thinking all those days when it looked like she ran a daycare? How did she not just run away? She would have had some fantastic blog fodder, lemme tell ya.

    Oh, and thanks for the shout-out. I feel the same way about you, which is why I slapped you at BlogHer12. I do that when I get excited.

    • It was a BlogHer highlight when you slapped me. Stupid Scary Mommy just punched me in the face. You have more class.

      Anyway, how the EVERLIVING hell did your mom do that? Amazing. Those posts, like cloth diapers, sound good and I want to be ALL IN when I hear about it. Then I have to take a step back and remember who I am and what I need. And going tech-free and advocating that others should too isn’t for me. For obvious reasons.

      Now of course I have to Google your former posts about your anal situation. Because that sounds like gold right there.

  7. See, this is why I work in social media and marketing during the day. I am totally plugged in the 8 hours I’m in the office, and if I just happen to comment on a blog–hey, it’s my job. The only thing better would be if I was a full-time personal shopper.

    Then when I go home in the evenings, I usually unplug until bedtime. That way I can get laundry and bottle washing done while Mr. Man watches The Fresh Beat Band on Nick Jr—er, I mean that way I can completely devote myself to the rearing of my sweet baby.

    I don’t know how you SAHMs do it (even with the blogosphere support), but I totally admire you! I have to have blogosphere support even though I get a “baby break” at work.

  8. I wish that my mom had blogged about all of my major milestones. Not because I want to know about them really, just because she keeps telling me ridiculous things like “you were potty trained by 9 months” and “you were speaking in full sentences by the time you were a year old” and I basically just need to prove to her that my daughter is NOT retarded and that maybe, JUST MAYBE, she’s remembering things incorrectly.

  9. Oh my god, your poor mother. That sounds like pure hell. I agree – I don’t know if I would have made it through my first year with Adeline without the support I found online. Sure it has it’s drawbacks, but it’s also amazingly positive sometimes.

  10. Hilarious! And so true. Much has changed even in the nine years since I had Ava – sure we had Target, and Gymboree but now – so much better. And more challenging to balance. I can’t imagine my mom sharing anything about us – she would have been too afraid of what others thought of her to publicly mark our milestones or her parenting challenges and joys. Grateful for your “against the trend” self.

  11. We truly are a blessed generation. My kids probably wouldn’t have survived if I’d been that stuck. Or I’d have curled up in the fetal position and made funny sounds as I played with my lower lip while staring at the wall pretending I was looking at a beach somewhere.

  12. Pingback: I am not missing my kid’s childhoods | Long Days, Short Years

  13. Seems like it’s more with than against today’s trend! I do feel that I have to learn how to fit it all in. I’m newer to blogging and it is taking a lot of time. Luckily my kids are 15 and 8, so often away most of the day so I dont ignore them so much but house stuff while I go online!

  14. So pink puffy heart this post it is not even funny. Am actually working on a post about being tired of the guilt…will totally link to you when finished!
    God, my mom could have used some blogs. For sure.

  15. See, this is why the higher power was telling me to read your blog. This post is fantastic. It makes me feel simultaneously grateful for the blogging community and guilty for spending as much time on my phone as I do. That said, laundry also interferes with all the time I could spend interacting with my baby. Anyway, I love this post. I would like to link to it over on my blog. You can find it under “Worth a Read” in the bottom right.

    • Thank you. And I feel that twitchy guilt thing when I am cooking dinner and not playing ring around the Rosie. I can’t win. Because if I don’t make dinner that’s kinda bad too!

  16. So funny. And so terrible. Because without Amazon to deliver all the stuff I refuse to buy with the kids running screaming through the aisles, how would we have all the crap we don’t need?

    My mom had the same kind of situation…relocated when they married to the middle of effing NOWHERE. As in, had to drive 50 miles across state line to hospital when in labor, kind of nowhere. As in not on the map nowhere. The big trip was the monthly jaunt to FedMart. She said she put us in the backyard and (kind of) watched from the kitchen. Somehow during my buttons and zippers phase I undressed my younger brother in the snow and she found him blue and shivering. Um…I’m guessing their idea of supervision is different than ours.

    I read the Interwebs and the Twitterings and whatnot when my kids bore me. There. I said it. After an hour at the playground doing what they want, I sit and I text a bit. When they say, “Mommy, can we…” the answer is never “one minute.” It’s often, “hell no,” but it’s never “hang on while I favorite this tweet.” And my kids don’t sit and pretend to text, so it’s clearly not their impression of my preferred activity.

    So if this helicopter, granola, chemical-free, obsessive perfectionist parents says a little smartphone now and then can’t hurt ya, why then go for it. I give your 1970s mom permission, too. Hell, I give her permission to drink starting at breakfast.

    • Ha! It’s funny because Sadie always pretends to talk on the phone, but I don’t do that much. I hate talking on the phone. When she starts pretending to text, I will die inside and admit my boundaries need tweaking.

  17. Holy hell, I too remember the bowling alley day care! Too funny.

    I have no guilt about being connected. I am pretty much in the same situation as your mom was…30 years later. I live in the Dallas area with the closest family being in Houston. My friends live nowhere near me AND they work so that makes it all the more difficult to see them. My neighborhood has a “playgroup” but, to be honest, I have feared joining said “playgroup” since my son was born in 2007 because 1. I’m not a joiner and 2. I have seen these groups at the park or whereever and these moms just annoy the crap out of me bragging about their overscheduled 4 year olds. All they know how to talk about is their kids and while I love my son dearly, I’m with him ALL THE TIME and I don’t always want to talk about him. I want to talk about crappy tv and which Mexican place has the best margaritas. So, I Facebook, fart around on Twitter and blog when the mood strikes me.

    The internet is bowling for the 2012 mom.

    • Yes! My playgroup was sort of scary. I never felt like I could be myself. Bu here, it’s all me and there’s people like you. I’ve heard Chuy’s margaritas are good.

      On Aug 16, 2012,

  18. Pingback: Dear Younger Self, Stop Saying The Guys Who Dumped You Were Gay | Outlaw Mama

  19. Not the point of this post, but, Morgan Freeman was on the Electric Company??? I watched that show obsessively. I so wanted to be part of the Bloodhound Gang. How did I not know this???

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