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.
“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.”
“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?
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.