Last summer, I unplugged from all social media for a couple of weeks. I want to tell you that it was blissfully freeing. I want to admit that I truly engaged my kiddos, right where they were at, and I was present in mind, body and spirit, like…the whole time. I want to confess that I could give up social media in all it’s many forms and never look back and that living my life in private isolation and in contact with only my immediate friends, family and neighbors is enough for me.
But I’d be lying. Society, with it’s heavy technology emphasis and it’s live-streaming connections to everything, has changed me. And I’m not quite sure I would know how to do life or motherhood without that component. Because the truth is, my kids are different kinds of kids than I was too, and technology and social media is a part of our daily life. In fact, last summer in the midst of my ‘unplug,’ I remember asking my mom, ‘What on earth did you do (way back in the 80’s) when I asked you a question and you didn’t know the answer? How did you survive without Google?’ She laughed and then shrugged and said, ‘Well, I suppose I asked my neighbors or my girlfriends or just told you that I didn’t know.’
Hmm. I’ll be honest with you, I don’t think my kids would accept that, because they realize that we could probably find the answer in various places and are often found asking things directly such as, ‘Hey mom can we Google the information for this type of bird?’ They know where to find the answers and it’s not going next door or calling up one of my friends. My mom doesn’t text and she’s vowed never to join Facebook. As a mom in this generation I don’t think that’s an option if I want to be involved in what my kids are doing on social media as they age. Times have changed.
During the period that I was unplugged, I found myself doing great things with my kids, don’t get me wrong. We baked a fabulous rainbow cake, for no reason at all, which was the biggest mom hit ever and you’d better believe I’ll be doing it again. We laughed, and they played, and we did projects for fun, and everyone relaxed way more. In those ways it was awesome and we made some fun memories- but do you want to know the biggest shock for me? I was lonely! I wasn’t on Facebook to find out how that friend’s doctor apt went or how this one was doing with getting her new baby to sleep through the night or how that one was handling her husband being gone for the last three weeks on business, etc. The people I associate with spread their lives out on social media and we tend to keep up with one another’s daily happenings that way. I’ll bet you can relate to that somewhat. When someone unplugs they had better be setting up coffee dates or something to keep up with everyone or else time lapses and you miss out! There’s always ‘picking up the phone.’ But does anyone really do that anymore if they aren’t calling their mother? Replies are optional and though it’s more impersonal than face to face, it’s what we’ve got. I didn’t like NOT being up on what was current in the lives of all my friends. I missed them. I mean, I do know how to do friendship without the aid of social media, of course. During my unplug, I went to a beach with a girlfriend and her kids, we had some people over for BBQ and campfire s’mores, but I really did miss the quick five-minute updates.
I want to be the mom that unplugs and bakes a rainbow cake on a sunny July afternoon just because and maybe that’s the answer for me. When in the spontaneous, fun filled moment of right now, be in that moment with the smartphone ringer turned off or put away. I want to do the things that bring smiles and memories for no special reason and be all there. I want to absorb every word my kiddos say when they hit the door after school and give them all of me. And that social media… well it’s going to be there when my kids have left the nest. I suppose it comes down to balance. Doesn’t it always? Moms in our generation are dealing with a lot. We want it all and we want to do it all well.
So I’m curious. How do you balance social media and parenthood?