A while ago I wrote a long-winded (now that’s a shocker, right?) post about trying to put my phone down more often. I’ll include the link here, but I don’t like to reread that post–basically because it reminds me of just how well I’m failing.
I’m failing to not be so stressed out and anxious all the time (about what? WHAT?!).
I’m failing to interact with my children, as was evidenced this weekend when David took the girls outside to play in the snow while I sat at my computer to write down some cute things they’d said. The irony is obvious, yes? I’m trying to remember my children while they’re still here in front of me.
I still check my phone constantly. Facebook. Twitter. Email. News. I think it’s because I’m at home, so I eel the need to be more connected. And yet, I don’t reply to emails (because I check them on my phone, thinking I’ll respond when I get to a computer, then forget entirely…or get sidetracked again by my phone). I don’t nail down plans with friends (the problem with trying to make plans on your phone at 10:45 at night? You don’t remember who you were texting at 10:45 the next morning). I vow to do a, b, or c, then feel like crap about myself when I fail, fail, fail. There are so many loose ends in my head, my brain looks like a scarf you accidentally washed with the towels (so it’s pretty much a soggy, tangled, knotted hot mess of cotton/poly-blend yarn, yes). I am tired, strained, impatient, and vaguely…unhappy. Almost all the time. It’s not a good spot to be in.
And unfortunately (or fortunately, if I’m going to be all misery-and-company, which I’m not, because that’s just not cool), I’m not the only one. An acquaintance of mine (hi, Dawn!) posted this blog post from Hands Free Mama yesterday on her Facebook page (WHAT. I checked it before I read the post. STOP JUDGING.), and then I shared it, and somebody else shared it, and on it went. Most of my friends had the same reaction as I: Yikes. Holy crap. One friend (hi, Peg!) said that reading this post actually made her sick–if you read it, you’ll understand why. Because too many of us can see fragments of ourselves and our lives in what Rachel says. Too many of us cringed while we read about the effects all that self-imposed pressure and need for perfectionism, mixed with this weird state of being distracted, have on our children–especially our first-borns.
My mom was just saying the other day that she thinks each generation of mothers has a specific reason for being stressed–and that basically one generation of anxious mothers begets another. I look around at the moms my age, and I see a generation that’s climbed educational and professional ladders, and is terrified of letting go, of losing its place once the children come. So those of us who work feel guilty, guilty, guilty. And those of us who stay home feel like we need to be perfect, perfect, perfect, because this is our job, and if we fail at this, well, then, why are we home in the first place? Maybe that’s why we’re glued to our phones. It’s a connection to the world we need to be a part of, validation that we’re all still important, respected, out there.
I dropped Saoirse off at her first Girl Scout Daisy meeting last night. She was so excited. It’s the first one she’s been able to make all year, because I was too disorganized to move her only other activity–gymnastics–to another night so she could make the meetings. I missed the sign-up for her big cookie rally with the other girls, and barely made the deadline for a caroling activity she’s doing this weekend. And as I sit here and think about all those other loose ends I haven’t tied down, I’m getting a tightness in my chest. It’s panic, I know. And there’s no reason for it. I’ve a family of three children. I’m not running a country.
The other morning, we were all running late–all five of us–and scrambling trying to get the girls out the door for school. And all of a sudden Saoirse broke down in tears, toothbrush in her hand, her sparkly headband drooping over her forehead. “Everybody’s screaming at me,” she whispered. And she was right. David was putting on a tie, I was racing back to the girls’ bedroom, Cian on my hip, because Quinn was taking so long to find a pair of socks part of me thought she’d gone to Greenland to gather her own wool for a pair, but it was SK we were reprimanding. It was at SK we were yelling, “hurry, hurry, hurry!” Why is it always Saoirse? She’s only five.
Get it together, Ferguson. And while you’re at it, put down the phone.
Oh, friends. What’s with us? Is it all of us, or are some of you reading this thinking, “Leah, girl, you’re wackadoo. Time to use that phone to dial up a therapist, shall we?” I don’t think it’s me, though–not from the reactions I saw to Hands Free Mama’s blog post. And I know people say the holiday rush exacerbates everything, but if we can’t be focused and even-keeled at this time of year, what’s the point of all those proclamations of joy and peace and merrymerrymerry? Bah.
Only love today. That’s what Rachel suggests we focus on: only love today. No stress, no unnecessary distractions (oh, Twitter, I love you so…), no need to control others just because we can’t get our own selves under control. And most importantly, to stop telling ourselves we’re failing all the time, because seriously, we’re not. Even if it makes us feel special to think we’re failing better than most people are failing so (yay!) we win. Sort of.
I went to pick up Saoirse last night from Girl Scouts, and drove with the radio off. I just wanted to be in my own head for a bit, in a rare space of silence that doesn’t really exist in my world anymore (mainly because 4 p.m. dance parties to “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” can get kind of rowdy around here). I pulled into the school lot early, and automatically picked up my phone. But then I remembered Rachel’s post. So I put down the phone, and I went inside a little early to get to know the other parents and watch my daughter sing carols with her friends. I’m so tired of being stressed out about my world, when all I have to do is step back inside to actually live it. So step in, I will. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll stay there this time.
Only love today. It’s not a perfect start…