Friday, June 29, 2012
I get by with a little help from my (online) friends
This post is a part of a blog carnival with the new online community mom.me, and is sponsored by P&G. Head on over to the mom.me site to take part in the discussion about motherhood and online communities, and you will be entered to win one of five P&G gift baskets valued at $250.
How the online world has helped me as a mom
As a kid, days lasted forever. The time from any day of the year until Christmas felt like an eternity. Summers lollygagged along, hours of the day were spent doing nothing and being perfectly content with that. Impressions of the world were permanently stamped on my brain, and are ones that I can actually recall as an adult. Fast forward to today, and it seems that if I blink too long, a month will have passed and I won't even remember what I had for breakfast.
The pace of life as a parent is hard to describe to anyone who has yet to experience it. You hear the snide remarks about never sleeping in again, trading in Foo Fighters for Twinkle Twinkle, losing softball for little league, and the ever dreaded "You think that's bad, just wait!" But I know now that I never had a complete understanding of just how easy it is to fall into a fast and furious whirlpool of scheduling until I had my own child to revolve around. He is about to turn three, and it took until about six months ago when I finally popped my head out of the water to look around and realize how much me and my life have changed.
My husband and I have never really lived quiet lives. We worked, played sports, had far-reaching circles of friends and family, were active in church, and generally lived in an on-the-move schedule. Once my son was born, that schedule hit a brick wall, got swept up into a bag and shaken around, planted, and grew into something even bigger and faster than I ever knew existed. Calm is preferable. Busy is ok. Overwhelmed is not. The lines between each of those is very fuzzy, but with help of a friend's perspective (thanks!) I'm finally understanding what an important determining factor is: time to ponder.
When I have time to think, reflect, and absorb the happenings going on around me, I have a sense of calm. Even if it is busy, as long as I can carve out that time for review, things feel in control. I have a handle on what is going on. I can enjoy, or not, and react. When the to-do list is so long that I am blinded to everything other than getting the tasks completed, discontent sets in. It might sound counter-intuitive, but the time I have spent online, when handled correctly, has helped me to ponder.
When I had an infant and was in a state of complete sleep deprivation and a daily schedule merry-go-round, Facebook kept me connected to the world I felt so far from. I could share with my friends and family, keep up on some of their lives, all without the worry of the stains on my t-shirt and whether my brain could even form a complete sentence.
When I had a toddler and was completely perplexed on how to handle that new little person, I started reading websites geared towards parents. I was interested to read the developmental milestone information, different tips and theories, any tools I could find to navigate this stage of parenting. That's the time that started to notice the negatives of too much of that type of reading. Comparing parenting styles can be a very judgmental, self-depreciating, negative thing if you aren't careful. Parenting ideas are as different and varied as the kids being discussed, and it is easy to question of you are making the right choices. Being a mom is hard enough, there is no need to add extra imaginary pressure to make it worse. Once I figured out that I knew best how to parent my son, just as everyone else their own children, it was a much happier place to be.
Enter blogging. This blog was started to chronicle the journey of doing things I enjoyed again, in addition to parenting. I never realized how much I would like it. Writing gives me that time I need to ponder. The activities that I am blogging about all seem to do the same. Exercise clears my head to make room for reflection. Reading helps me think in new ways. Gardening, cooking and photography are all deliberate, quiet hobbies and give me calm and time to reflect as I do them. Along with writing my own blog, I've also started to spend more time reading other people's blogs. There are the incredibly beautiful, brilliant, hysterical authors that I don't know but want to electronically hug. There are authors that frustrate me, that I don't agree with. Both help me shape who I am and how I think, and I appreciate them both. Would I have been the same mom without the internet? Probably. Did it make it a little easier? A little more fun? Yes. And no matter how big or small, I will take every bit of help I can get.