To be honest, I don’t know where to begin.
Life is good.
That seems as good a place as any.
We are blessed in so many ways. I am blessed with a wide eyed, smiley babe who warms my heart and smells ever so sweetly, a fiercely brilliant little boy who doesn’t miss a beat or a chance to make us laugh, and an intensely loving, super adaptable, whip smart little girl who will turn 5 next month. I am blessed to be madly in love with a bearded husband who is ever-present and, after 10+ years, still makes me weak in the knees. We are blessed with a warm home in the country, freezers and cupboards full to overflowing with food, warm duvets, hot coffee and tea, wonderful friends and family, perfect health, good benefits, a great job, chortling chickens, playful and ever tolerant pets, good books lining our shelves, and a toasty woodstove to and dry our clothes and roast marshmallows by.
And yet, I seem to be suffering some sort of social media induced soul-fever. An overwhelming brain fog. It isn’t postpartum depression/anxiety. The fog and fever was far worse when I was pregnant than it is now.
You see, I feel it is brought on by spending too much time online. I love Pinterest, I do. It is like crack for this creative, visually driven girl. I don’t buy magazines for the pretty pictures anymore because I know I can find it all and more on Pinterest. It is loaded with inspiration and ideas and homeschooling resources. Hell, it was stumbling on this pin that inspired me to actually write this very post! But I find myself constantly comparing our humble little cabin to the perfect homes I see online and forget to be happy with what we have. Facebook connects me to the people I miss as well as to the people I’ve never even met in the real world. I am grateful for all the people, kind advice, and heated debates I have acquired and participated in via Facebook, but I can’t deny that it also gives me a false sense of a social life. Both of these sites have their merits, but they also fill my brain with anxiety-inducing posts and pins about the dangers of wearing deodorant or bras at night or hot dogs, and radiation making its way across the sea and land, and house fires, and car seat fails, and kidnappings, and missing children, and how TV rots your brain, and vaccine fear mongering, and conspiracy theories, and allergies, and other people being stellar parents, and crafts we will never do, and 4 year olds reading, and perfectly pretty houses and paint colours, and luscious hair, and thinspiration, and clean eating, and too good to be true recipes, and really funny memes, and how to organize and clean, and be more productive and yell less.
And then there are the pictures and videos we take and post. Though I love having a record of the daily and monumental events, it seems kind of pointless when you weren’t fully present in the original moment, no? Louis CK says it better than I ever could. This became very apparent to me when Poppy had her ears pierced a couple of months ago. Like an idiot, I was trying to capture the video (for Mike who was at work and unable to be present) and was still fumbling with the phone while my mom swooped in to comfort her after the deed was done. It should have been me.
All this to say, I am not quite sure how to find the balance. I don’t blog much anymore because the world is full of bloggers saying so much of the same and I honestly don’t know that I have much more to bring to the table. I would be lying if I said I weren’t struggling with the feelings of isolation since moving to the country. I miss being able to walk downtown with children in strollers and strapped to my chest in order to get some social interaction and window shopping in. The trails are too deep for little ones to navigate for any length of time and the highway we live on is not suitable for afternoon meanderings. The days are so very long when we are left without a car. That is the only thing we would change about our move to the country, but it is financially out of the question for now.
Social media fits conveniently into a day with 3 children under 5. 10 minutes here between snack
demands requests, bum wiping, clean ups, homeschooling, and meals. 30 minutes there while the baby nurses and falls asleep on me. Homschooling consists mostly of free play mixed with 15 minute stints of writing our letters, drawing pictures, reading books, and using the iPad. To be honest, the days feel long and aimless for me. Though it is a perfect pace for young children, I crave productivity and structure for myself. I read books and attempt to crochet, and rearrange furniture but my mind wanders and my attention is pulled away. My days are fragmented. So the pace of the internet fits my day, but it also drains me. My mind feels an awful lot like our living room; disheveled and lacking focus.
We recently listened to an interesting Freakonomics podcast about parenting. The conclusion was that obsessive, over-scheduled parenting (that seems very much the norm on social media) is pointless and the best thing we can do for our children is to be happy and kind. Makes sense, no?! Seriously, I want to tattoo those words on my forehead. We don’t do too many activities or crafts with a set outcome because it inevitably makes feelings of inadequacy, frustration, and impatience bubble up in me. I am driven by the outcome while the kids are in the moment and it rarely ends well. I know my kids are far better off with a basket full of crayons, paper, scissors and glue to use at their own discretion than any Pinterest craft and a results-driven mama. We do extracurricular activities because they’re enjoyable and provide the social interaction we crave and need. The path of least resistance and genuine inspiration really is the best and happiest path with these tender ages.
I have no answers. Perhaps it is a little bit of precisely this type of mourning mixed with a wicked case of Pinterestitis and social media fever. Whatever it is I find myself aching for depth and joy and inner work; a lonely run, and finding my breath and pose on a yoga mat, and scrawling my messy handwriting across pages of a forgotten journal; belly laughs and company who stay late into the night, and window shopping; boundaries and limits and wild things.
We’ve become quick masters of self editing. I find myself wishing I could remember what it felt like to just be…(Once again, Louis CK nails it) . To be alone with ourselves and our thoughts without comparison, input or labels.
I shall leave you with this as I ponder my next step. (source unknown)