what we talk about, when we talk about social media

Thursday, June 19, 2014

2 pm, and not one kid was resting.

My exhausted little girl would have fallen asleep, but her brothers kept meandering through the room, asking for snacks and nipping at each other the way puppies and brothers do. I can't begin to guess why my baby boy was awake. Maybe he was overtired, maybe he's cutting a tooth, maybe there was a full moon. For him, sleep is always mysterious and delicate. And yesterday, it didn't happen.

Hell hath no fury like a mom without a nap time.

At first I tried to clear out the room where my toddler was not-napping. That didn't work. I tried soothing the baby and putting him back to bed. No luck. I then resorted to blindly snapping at whoever was in front of me. Half-cocked threats are always an effective parenting tool, right? Half an hour later, we were all wired. When I wasn't barking at children who were inflicting their noise on my quiet hour, I was trying to figure out how to register the big kids for next year's enrichment classes. When I told him - again - to settle down, my son retorted, "You could have just gone to the coffee shop this morning!"

It took me a minute. But then I realized, he thinks I'm grumpy because I'm trying to write. Many mornings, I go before the kids wake up to a coffee shop to write. He thinks they're distracting me from work. In reality, I'm not irritated over work or the computer. My frustration is universal. "Honor quiet time or else!" - not related to a computer at all.

Normally, though, if a computer is open and I'm frustrated, it's because they're interrupting what I'm doing. His response makes sense.

Instantly I felt calmer, and I hugged my little boy. "You're not interrupting me," I said quietly. "I'm frustrated because your brother is going to be overtired. And so am I, without a quiet hour. I can get irritated even when you're not interrupting my work," I added with a smile.

Our conversation highlighted what I've already been feeling. Lately, my phone is taking over my life. Work, actual work, breathes life into me and my family. Work for me includes talking to other writers, editing for a magazine I love, and writing to you guys (which is one of the most energizing parts of my day). Work is not my problem.

It's what happens after I work that eats away at my time. Checking email just once more to see if a writer has responded. Checking social media - again - to see who else liked my post. Work is a blessing to me, and the energy it gives me spills over into my family life. But constantly monitoring information and response does not. It sucks the life out of work, and distracts me from interacting with my real life people.

I don't think writers are the only ones who fall into this trap. I did it before I wrote too. I'd get caught up in comments on a popular blog and find myself checking it over and over. I'd start emailing or texting with a friend and devote my morning to staring at my phone. Social media has always had the power to suck me in.

But when the posts about mothers and phones ran a few months ago, I didn't buy into the hype. Their advice is rooted in fear and guilt, I thought. I don't want to live or parent out of those emotions. I want to live and parent out of grace. There's room for our phones too. There is graceveven in technology and parenting. I still believe that's true. I'll never question a mom looking at her phone in the park, because I know for most moms, that's the only ten minutes she's sitting down all day.

But it's not really technology that's creeping in to my life right now. The problem is needing approval and acceptance. It's caring too much about what others think about me.  needing others to validate who I am. And that's not a technology problem, it's a life problem.

I've fallen into that trap before. I poured so much energy into fitting in, I lost sight of who I really was. It can happen in social media, in a play group, in a Bible study, in a neighborhood. If we're not careful, we can give our lives over to staring at the wrong things. What is their perception of me? Will I be accepted if I speak my truth? Maybe life would be easier if I just stayed quiet.

I believed those lies once. They grew like a weed in my life, and they choked out life-giving friendships. In the end, I lost both my friends and myself to that lie. I won't fall into that trap again.

This time, I recognize that lie and the danger in it. And I am uprooting it now. I choose to simply put down my phone. I can remember the truth - my value has nothing to do with who likes me and who doesn't - and I can focus on loving and serving the people in front of me. Even on the days when nobody takes a nap.

1 comment:

  1. Best quote ever, "Hell hath no fury like a mom without a nap time." AMEN, sister!

    I can also relate to the need to stop trying to please everyone else. I often lose sight of who I am in favor of who everyone wants/needs me to be. I have to reign myself back in but it's not always easy. Kudos to you for recognizing your need and taking action!



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