Walking the Line

As I knew would happen, joining Facebook and starting the Apron Stringz page over at Homegrown has sparked a real computer bender. When I hit the start buttons for those groups, a little voice in my head screamed. But I did it anyway. I wanted to. I craved to.

Telling y’all about my struggles with the glowing box addiction is just silly. It’s like starting an AA meeting with a glass of champagne. “Here’s to a mostly dry week, friends!” But I do it anyway, because here is where I talk out all that kind of shit, and I know many of you struggle with the same balancing act.

The problem is, the more I use this cursed blessed WWW, the more I glue my eyes to the box, the less I want to do anything else. Particularly take care of two fussy little scraps. I start out by brushing them off like flies. Once the bender gets serious, I start heavy into the Mama Rage.

I get outrageously mad. I never had anger issues before I had kids, but here I am– the three headed hydra of rage again. And of course, being that mad at my sweet heart-of-hearts for simply needing my attention makes me downright depressed. Predictably, being depressed makes me stop cleaning the house, stop doing anything productive. Living in a disaster zone and feeling totally unproductive makes me more depressed. Being more depressed makes me want to veg out on the computer.

Ad infinitum.

Day before yesterday was a stupid, crap day. I got a sore throat from screaming “fuck” too long and hard. That’s no joke, and not the first time that’s happened to me either. I started a stupid crap post at the end of that day, but fortunately for all involved, I deleted it.

So, yesterday morning after a wicked seeming extension of the day before, I decided it was high time to pull myself together. No writing. Anywhere. All day.

I cleaned the house. I cooked, not just in survival mode, but some needed projects. I biked my kids to the zoo. I turned some dirt in the front garden bed. I cleaned more.

By the time I was setting the table for a nutritious yet savory dinner, including one thing I had grown myself, and one thing from the farmer’s market, I was feeling pretty good. ‘Look what I can do when I just knock that computer shit off!’ I said to myself proudly.

Then I realized. Other than about 40 minutes at nap time, when I cleaned instead of jumping onto the continually fascinating Homegrown discussion, where exactly had all that getting-shit-done time come from? Not from my self-restraint. No.

That time had come from the kids. They had just plain had a good day. The Babe had been happy. They had played sweetly. I had been able to stay home in the afternoon and get in some good work time, rather than having to escape the house in desperation with two fussy, fighting wildebeasts strapped into the stroller.

Oh, motherhood. The ups. The downs. My brain lags behind the actuality of change. Subconsciously I was still thinking we were in those Glory Days I wrote about in early February. And wondering why I wasn’t getting anything done.

How have I still not installed the fact of small children into my expectations? How can I still expect to be in control all the time? How can I still be getting down on myself when I fail to keep up with all the work which, haven’t I said myself, is not meant to be done by one person alone? Haven’t I read this damn blog?

Not to say that my computer addiction is a-okay. Of course if falling behind is what makes me feel crazy, then any time that I take away from catching-up is a problem. And what about the very real probability that my kiddos ‘good day’ was sparked by my own decision to just be mama for the day?

But it’s the confusion of the modern world, because doesn’t this writing feel good too? Doesn’t this help beat back the crazies?

Absolutely. That’s why I yanked myself up out of bed at 5:30 this morning so I could write this all out. Thanks for listening.

And now I’m going to go see if I can’t walk the line again. Another day, another load of laundry.

15 thoughts on “Walking the Line

  1. Awww, I am sure it was a wonderful post but I cant get past the fact that you have already been able to go to a Farmers Market…
    we had tornado 3 nights ago, rain since and tonight is supposed to start snowing again. WHINE.

    Now that is over, it was actually a great post. My children are older now but I remember things worked best when they were part of everything…I hate to say I fooled them into thinking that whatever we were doing was actually playtime and that this is how all the other children did it. But I probably did. If I cleaned, they cleaned, cooked they cooked, sewed they sewed (i.e. re-organized the threads, fabrics, patterns etc), gardened they gardened. And a nap was as long as I said it would be, 2 hours if needed. And bedtime was a set time.

    When they played in their kiddie pool I sat there with my feet in it with a book. When they wanted to watch a Disney video I watched it with them. I think they felt like since I would do what they needed when they wanted they did the same for me. And that has continued today as they are teen/young adult.

    Back to whining…7 more weeks til our 1st farmers market.

  2. Ahh sweet girl,

    Back in the old days (my time with as momma) it was the phone that set the kid off. Not the ringing but when momma was on it talking. He would know that I was distracted and he would somehow need so much more from me. If I was cooking in the kitchen or doing anything that he could clearly identify as a task – gardening, cleaning , he was fine but the phone turned him into a nag. Even hauling him to work with me when I had the cafes was easier on him. He understood that sort of busy. He had a part in that sort of busy — he could help momma. But phone? Don’t know.So I’m thinking the computer is the same for your kids but I would be interested to hear from other moms about that.

    Honestly though, I wish I was around there to give you a hand. That’s the beauty of inter-generational living I suspect. When the youngsters (you) are in the field or doing the hard physical work the old farts (me) are watching the kids and baking pies. I think we all split the housecleaning cause I know I ain’t the fuck doing it myself.

    As for the screaming my friend. Go for a walk, kick a can, give me a call on the phone but (sorry) try not to yell at the kids. I’m totally not about making you feel bad but having been raised in a house of yelling and having been one myself (until I had my transformation — more on that if you want to know) I know the impact it can have on the kids.

    As for the house cleaning, let it go until you are ready if it will be easier for you. Like the gardening stuff I write about…I know I can get more done in one hour when I in the spirit then a whole day in slack ass mode. But the spirit always returns so I don’t worry. I just wait. Of course, I don’t have the crops to bring in or we die, that would make waiting less of an option. Still, your kids will be little only once and you will have a hard time undoing the bullshit once it has happened. Not to say you are causing any, but just so you can feel good about your part IF something happens to them.

    The hardest thing about dealing with son #1 is having to get real about my part in his “fall”. Of course he is his own man and had a big role in his downfall but I had some blood on my hands and that, more than any other thing I had to face in my life, was very, very hard. So consider it an insurance policy. If they end up being little assholes it will not be because you were running around the house saying fuck. Likely it will be for another reason (they all become some sort of combination of asshole and lovely) but you will not have to chew out your own liver in self recrimination. And I speak of what I know.

    So do call me sweet. Really, I’ll be the sounding board and surrogate granny. Of course I will expect kid art on my birthday but so be it. I love that stuff.

  3. The Non-Traditional Traditional Couple I know here in town has the Man come home from work at 4:30, and the Wife does her writing from 4:30-6:30. She emerges, they have dinner, the kids go to bed, they get time together. It seems to work for them… That Man has an equally stressful work/school situation as yours… Could that work for you?

  4. Me too! I am hopelessly addicted at the mo, but saying that we are in the middle of making lemon curd, washing done, dishwasher loaded, been half watching David attenburgh’s life DVD with the kids and piddling about in the garden. And started making some pot pourri. The kids joined in with the lemon curd, which they really enjoyed. We weave in and out of doing things together, and I snatch moments in-between to do computer stuff because it keeps me sane! Well sane in the sense that it satisfies my need for communication with other adults since my husband is in work mode of a very engrossing nature at the mo. And my nearest really good friends are half hour drive away……. Yesterday we had friends over and we baked and I drew a woodpecker for my son, amongst a bunch of other stuff but I still farted around on the computer too. Like you I can’t help it. Hey ho, at least I’m not addicted to crack :-)

  5. Yeah, hear that. We did a Sunday Technology Sabbath at the beginning of this week and it served a similar purpose. I don’t think the technology is bad, per se, it just sucks…you….in. Case in point: I am only here because I was posting about today’s post on my page, and then I saw you had a new thing up, and now here I am 15 minutes later after reading everything, commenting when really I need to get my daughter out the door for school. And I still haven’t linked to my own blog. And now we are borderline running late.

    That said, I think kids have evolved to understand that parents do activities. This is my theory. Cleaning, cooking, etc. are all activities that the big people have been doing forever. When the big people do the activities, the little people play or help. I think we have thousands of years of precedent for this. But phone, email, blogging etc: anything that’s mom sitting down and/or giving attention to a competing interest without movement…I think they see that as just neglect and do their darndest to get your attention back. By being little terrors, if necessary.

    But yeah, technology breaks are good. Really good.

  6. Amen to all of the above, Sister! i have 3 boys who are now 11, 13, & 15. If I had had a computer when they were small, who knows what would have happened! As it is, I constantly fight with them (and myself) about this screen time issue. I have no idea how any of this will evolve, yet I am engaged in the process of maintaining balance. And, fo the record, kids – no matter how old they are – need your attention, maybe even more as they get into their teen years. It just looks a little different!

  7. I hear you loud and clear on this one! Since I started the Take Back Urban Home-steading(s) page I’ve had to walk the fine line between insanity and more insanity. Between blogging, keeping up with the TBUH page, e-mail, AND my personal fb page I’ve almost lost my mind…several times!! I finally figured out that I literally have to set time limits. It was a big girl panties moment. I spend one hour in the morning and one hour at night on the internet now, that’s it. If I exceed the limit it’s all down hill and I can’t get away from it. I’m getting a lot more done around the house now, (it was getting scary around here. The kitchen counters were always covered with dishes, and I won’t even go into the rest of the house), the kids are happier – hallelujah, my marriage is better, and I’m not going insane all the time. You will find a balance, and I think a lot of it is about limits when it comes to the internet. You can be the boss – it likes to tell you it’s in charge, but it’s really not! Thanks for sharing, we’re all in this together!

  8. Amen ladies! I really don’t understand how young moms do it, if we had had internet when my 6 children were little ~ OY!

    For me it was the telephone and for my partner it was the TV. We had to set firm limits.

    When I was homeschooling the eldest three and had 3 preschoolers I had to be very firm with myself to focus on what had to be done when. Homeschooling and laundry before running to town or using the telephone. I would even refuse to answer the darn thing.

    Screen time, in any form, needs to be limited. We tossed our cable and we can’t pick up any channels without it. It made a difference in our marriage and in our home for the better. It is also lovely not to be bombarded with advertising.

    Now that our children are mainly teenagers it is important for us to lay those groundrules for limiting their screen time. It sure helps if it has been modeled for them with our own self-control in this area and if the reasons have all been thought through previously.

    Whatever you choose to do, put your family first, and take good care of you.

    PS My house was often/usually a mess, my children know all about mama-rage, and it did get better ~ eventually.

  9. CJ: I’m feeling a little guilty. Too many posts on the Homegrown site. Too long for you to be reading. It’s addictive to be sure. Plus, we like to connect to others who are like minded. Anyway, I’m still learning and I’m older.

    I try and only stay on for say fifteen minutes about four times a day. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. And I don’t have little ones. They are now big ones. :)

    Good luck, I know you’ll figure it out. Whatever works best for you is the answer. But yeah, kids and family obligations always come first.

  10. I am so glad that I am not the only one who has those days. I also struggle with where my focus should be (my cherubs) and where it is some days. I live with a constant sense of being torn. I console myself with blogs like yours, iam not the only one! and that is comforting. Thankyou for putting these feelings into words.

  11. Hey again Lady CJ. Props (how white am I? Props? WTF are they, anyway) for posting about your addiction. Mine is just generally sitting on my arse and doing nothing. Trying to convince myself to go screen free a few days/nights a week at the moment.

    Remember this happiness, the thrill of achievement and the taste of that cawfee first thing in the morning when the bliss is hitting you with time for the ‘puter and the clear head of not swatting those flies isn’t stopping your train of thought (and what a massive hauler of a train it seems to be m’dear!). Cling to that, maybe even lend a bit of family drawing time from that soulemama woman (email me if you’ve never heard of it) so you can journal while the kids sit around with you and do the same.

    And remember, we are your willing and waiting audience, and we’re also nuts, just like you, and will wait to read when you’re ready to write.

    Ok, ’nuff softy suckarse sweetness, gotta go scrape some bowls and pay attention to my kiddo’s….!

  12. Yep, know that one… “Can you guys just give me a minute, so I can just get this damn blog post finished!!” Because hey, I can’t respond instantly to them all the time, it’s not a good lesson for them anyways, that I would scramble when they peep, or ask how high, when they say jump! But, the guilt comes because I was having ‘me time’ doing that blog post or making that comment, or reading that online article… I wasn’t cooking or cleaning or tidying or gardening (all acceptable times to fob them off for a while!) Nope, time of the computer (or in a book, or having a shower, or talking to a friend on the phone) how dare we?

    But, I know, I am all for allowing children to learn independence and fend for themselves, but still, the guilt of just wanting a few minutes to myself is there because that few minutes has turned into half an hour, because for most of that time, they had been off happily playing. So, I try to blog/ read blogs after they go to bed, or now, when I have a couple of hours before going to work and they are at daycare/ school already. Funny how inspiration hits at inconvenient times… when my world & my kids are frustrating/ boring/ crazing me, that I do want to sit & blog/ read blogs for a while, because it helps my sanity and makes me feel good!

    Always, great post…

  13. Thanks for this honesty. I don’t know what to do with the Mama Rage, which also happens to me out of nowhere, it seems. Should I start meditating? Read one of those Zen for Mamas books? How do we model for our kids how to deal with anger? Sometimes I resort to labor coping mechanisms: deep breathing, relaxing muscles. Or I sit myself in the bathroom and close the door and ignore what’s happening outside. It’s better than throwing shit. But then also, as you noticed, maybe we just need to focus on less. For a while I had a policy of not being online if I was watching E, and that was great while it lasted, but I’m off the wagon now. I’m also thinking: maybe you & I should arrange some sort of child care swap? Because we could all use more of a break, even if just for an hour to be alone.
    I have to say I’m impressed with your dedication to writing — waking up at 5:30 to do it no less! Wish I were so compelled.
    — M
    PS: and here’s this post, though it’s likely too sweet for your discerning tastes: http://lusaorganics.typepad.com/clean/2011/04/unplugging-and-getting-outside-.html

  14. Great post, great subject. I’m with Harriet on this one, back in the olden times it was the telephone that was the hot button. Well, the telephone and the bathroom, but you all don’t want to hear about that. Anytime the phone rang you could always count on a major melt down, which made it particularly awful because the phone was like my lifeline to the outside ( read: grownup) world. Interesting side note is now that all the kids are grown and gone, I’ve got 4 large dogs who are very well behaved and will sit nicely at my feet except when I pick up the phone then they start picking on one another and barking etc. Enough to drive a person nuts. Even if it doesn’t seem like it, just remember that this time will pass in the blink of an eye. Soon enough they will be grown and gone. But always remember, there are no do overs in life.

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