Since I’ve started my ‘journey into honest living’ I haven’t shared anything too bad about myself. You’ve learned that I’m messy and that I occasionally yell at my kids. That I like going to the grocery store by myself and that I think Victorian Santas are freaky. I’ve told you things that aren’t terribly flattering, but that don’t make me out to be too much of a creep either. Today, at the risk of exposing myself as a lazy, neglectful mother, I plan to open myself up a bit more. Not necessarily because I want to, but because I feel compelled to.
I’ve never been great at keeping New Year’s resolutions. Like most people, I’m good for a week or two and then they easily fall by the wayside. I think the last time I even made a resolution was in college when I decided to read one classic novel each month. I actually managed to get through several books before I got busy with other things.
This year I had no plans to make any New Year’s resolutions either. But then Friday, December 14th happened and the whole world turned upside down. Tragedies like the Sandy Hook shooting have happened before, but this one has, by far, had the biggest impact on me. I have cried every day, multiple times a day, since it happened. I suppose it’s partly because of the age of most of the victims, partly because of the proximity of Connecticut to Maine, and partly because of the number of lives lost, but I think it has hit so close to home for me because I find myself in the exact stage of life as all the now grieving parents. I have a child in school. It could have been him.
And so, in light of what happened, I realize that there are changes that I need to make in my life. It happens to be close to the new year, so you can think of them as resolutions if you want, but I won’t. I want the changes I make to be lasting and permanent. If I say they’re New Year’s resolutions then they’ll be old news by January 15th.
So what needs to change? My friend Lisa said it better than I could and she has graciously allowed me to share her words:
I do know that the new year will bring with it changes for me. I must be a better mom to my kids. Simply “staying home” with them isn’t good enough. I WILL unplug. I WILL answer emails AFTER they go to bed. I WILL become more involved in community activities that focus on what we can do for OTHERS. I WILL be kind. And I will instill kindness in my boys. I WILL be the change that I wish to see in the world…my boys’ future depends on it.
Now I know myself well enough to know that if I don’t get specific, nothing will change. And I know myself well enough to know that if I keep things to myself, nothing will change. I need accountability, which is why I have decided to open myself up here. Because this is too important to let it pass by.
So here’s the truth: I do not manage my time well. That statement doesn’t really do justice to what I’m trying to say. Maybe saying that I waste time is more accurate. Or maybe the best way to put it is that I’m not intentional with my time. And my biggest time waster is the thing I’m sitting in front of right now (ironic, right?).
I know a lot of people say they spend too much time on the computer, but I really do. I am extremely embarrassed to admit that I waste literally hours each day doing… what? Mindless scrolling? Meaningless commenting? My husband mentions it to me occasionally and I brush him off with an eye roll and a ‘yeah, yeah, whatever’, but he’s right. I can come up with lots of excuses: It’s the only grown-up interaction I get during the day; I’m part of several swap groups and I need to stay on top of things in case someone wants to buy from or sell to me; I find lots of great deals online so that we never pay full price for things; I come up with adorable craft ideas to do with the kids… do I need to continue? The only thing my excuses amount to is a big pile of crap.
I’ve never kept track, but if I compared the amount of time I spend on the computer to the amount of time I spend actually engaged with my children (talking to them, playing with them, reading to them, listening to them) I’m sure I would be horrified. What the heck is wrong with me? These are my kids whom I love more than life. They are what I’ve dreamed of my entire life. They are growing up way too fast. And they won’t be around forever. Hopefully they’ll only be a short drive away, but as December 14th proved, there are no guarantees.
And so I ask myself this question: If, God forbid (please!), something happened to one of my children today, would I have regrets? How horrible is it that I have to say yes? I would be devastated that I hadn’t spent less time on the computer and more time making memories with them. Even if they live good, long lives, how do I want them to remember their childhood? With a mom glued to a screen? Or with a mom who wrestled them to the floor for a tickle fight, who said “No big deal” when they spilled their drink for the third time in a day, who laughed with them about all the silly things that happen in a household full of rambunctious kids?
So here’s my plan: I will limit my computer use to specific times of day. I can get online while I’m eating breakfast (because the boys like to watch a show when they first wake up) and then I will turn the computer off so I’m not tempted. It will remain off during lunch so that we spend our meal talking with each other. I can hop on for 15 or 20 minutes in the afternoon while they have rest time. And then it will stay off until they are snugly tucked into bed. Even then though, I don’t want to be on there for long. My children are not the only ones who need my quality time. I have an amazing husband who deserves my best too.
Each week I will write an update on how I’m doing. I know this sounds stupid and I’m embarrassed that I feel the need to make a plan like this. But if Sandy Hook taught me anything, it’s that the people who matter to me are worth swallowing my pride in order to make the changes in my life that I need to make. I realize I’m starting small, and sadly, I’m sure I’ll have more than one week where I have to admit that I’ve failed. But bearing my soul to a bunch of strangers and friends will be good motivation to keep trying.
Well, breakfast is over, so you know what that means. I’ll be back soon… but not too soon.