Here’s a Balance Tip: Get off the Internet
The other day after all the children had left for school, I took the dirty breakfast dishes and started loading them into the dishwasher. My mind was full of the day’s obligations, so I had not noticed that I failed to unload the CLEAN dishes prior to loading the dirty ones.
As I was retrieving the milky bowls and the buttery knives, I chuckled at myself and thought, “I need to make this a funny Facebook status or work this into a blog post.”
To which I immediately responded to myself: “Oh my GOSH, Sandy. Who the flip cares if you loaded dirty dishes in with the clean ones!?! Do you need to live out your entire life on the Internet?”
Later that night, as I was drying Elliana off after her bath, she asked, “Mommy, do you have time to read to me tonight?” In response, I let out a big, giant, overly dramatic sigh. Like it was the most inconvenient thing for my child to ask of me at that moment. How DARE my 7-year-old ask me to read to her in bed, when, clearly, I’m exhausted.
In my defense, Jon had been out of town for days, and I was depleted. But to my discredit, I had spent countless minutes, no hours, throughout that very day checking the number of likes and shares on a Facebook status I posted earlier. A Facebook status about (wait for it) being a good mom.
“We’re connecting dots with people who may as well live on Pluto, while trying to avoid the ones planted right next to us.” ~Beth Moore~
Did you ever just look at this whole social media hoopla and see it for the absurdity that it is? Did you ever scroll through a feed or click on a blog and wonder what the heck you were doing reading about the mundane details of someone’s life you hardly know, or don’t know at all?
Have you ever just wanted to disappear from the whole thing and live your life quietly? As in, OFF LINE? Like we did way back in the 1990s? I mean, truly—get off line completely?
After living my life ON LINE for the better part of seven years, the thought occurred to me: I want off.
And, thus, began a week of deep introspection, soul-searching and prayer.
See, we’re heading into the holiday season. It’s always a busy time, but I’m grasping a little more tightly to it this year, because it’s a year of “lasts” for us:
…the last birthday Elliana will have in this house.
…the last Thanksgiving I’ll cook in this kitchen.
…the last Christmas we’ll gather in this family room in pajamas and hot cocoa.
…the last few months the neighborhood kids will ring our doorbell, run through our yard and make a beautiful mess of our basement.
Each year about this time, I take a break from blogging, unapologetically. I considered that maybe my thoughts of potentially disappearing are just the result of added pressure of building a new house. Lord knows, that alone would be a valid reason. Maybe I just need to disappear for the holidays, and revisit everything in January.
But then, I thought: In January we have to get the house ready to sell. And February, it will go on the market (have you ever sold a house with kids? It’s Crazy Town trying to make it look like you don’t live there when, in fact, you do.) And March we will start packing. And April we will move. And May we will be wrapping up the school year with programs and exams, while also integrating into a new area of town. And June begins summer—when I often take another break from blogging, unapologetically.
And then, it hit me: in two and a half years, I will launch my oldest daughter into COLLEGE!!!!!
When I started this blog, she was 8.
I’m not quite sure, but I’m now wondering if maybe all these thoughts are more than pressure from building the new house. Maybe God is nudging me to focus elsewhere for a season.
“So believe in life cycles and seasons. They are real. Therefore, when the days get shorter or it’s time to change, you will not think ‘something is wrong’ but you will accept the change as readily as a farmer accepts the turning of the calendar. Then you will be able to end the previous season’s appropriate activities and move to the next. Endings are easier to embrace and execute when you believe something normal is happening.”
~Dr. Henry Cloud, Necessary Endings~
Here are some of the questions I’m asking myself:
What if I spent the next year pouring myself into God’s word instead of poring over articles and newsfeeds? What would THAT look like? And what would that do to my levels of peace and patience? How would that change my attitude and my thinking? How much more effective could I be as a mother, a friend and a writer?
What if, rather than spending the next year continuing to build my blog audience, I spent it building my home (not just my new house, but also, my HOME)?
What if, instead of wondering how to work humorous or encouraging thoughts into a post, I work them into a real conversation? What if I took my dedicated writing time and used it to write personal letters of encouragement? Or write in the journals I’ve purchased for the kids? Or write truth and affirmation on the heart of a friend over coffee? What if, for a season, instead of looking for ways to encourage an audience of on-line connections, I direct all my efforts into the connections I can touch and see and hug and hear?
What if God is drawing me away from distractions so He can create something new in me? Something that I might miss, if I don’t disconnect myself?
What if, instead of living a public/viral life, I lived a private/quiet one?
Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. Then people who are not believers will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others. (I Thes 4:11-12 NLT)
Lately, I’ve seen a lot of my favorite bloggers write posts of apology for not keeping up with their blogs. Their guilt is palpable. They apologize for an irregular posting schedule because they are doing things like (gasp!) taking care of their children or traveling or keeping real-life work or volunteer commitments.
I always think, “How silly! Don’t apologize! Go take care of your people! You don’t even know us!”
Yet, as silly as it is, I get it. I, too, feel a deep sense of responsibility to you all. If I don’t post something here, I feel the need to come and explain. When I deactivated my Facebook account for a few weeks this summer, I wondered every day what people were thinking about my absence. I feel a responsibility to you, even though I only know the names of maybe 10% of you. I know you are real people with real needs, sitting across the screen drawing encouragement from something I’ve lived and written. I have never taken this lightly. I would never want to be irresponsible with the opportunity God has placed before me to serve you.
This is such a jumbled post. I’m sorry. It’s not like me to write such a messy essay in the midst of all my messy thought processing. Normally, I would wait until I have a neat and tidy solution, a decision, a life lesson…
I don’t. I just felt like I needed to put it out there. Just in case, I disappear. Which is quite possible.
(Don’t miss the irony. Needing to “put it out there” in a post about refraining from “putting it out there.”)
(And also, don’t miss the fact that I did, in fact, work the dirty dishes thing into post. Score!)
(Or that, if I do disappear from the Internet for a year, I have already considered how it would be killer content for a blog series when I return.)
I’m proud of you.
Thanks, Babe. You’re the best. Thanks for being my sounding board about all this stuff and encouraging me to do what I feel God is leading me to do, no matter what it is. I love you.
The internet is such a double edged sword. I’m a calmer person, a better wife, and a better mother when I step away.
But I need it for work. It’s silly but in my head I truly compartmentalize the time I spend online and ask: is this for work, or is this goofing off?
Yes, when you post on facebook for work, you need to answer questions and “like” comments as they come in for the first hour. That’s important for the facebook algorithm so it continues to release your update to all of your fans. But after that hour or so is up — step away and check in the next day. At least that’s my jumbly/mumbly advice for today. Tomorrow it will change completely! 😉
You are wonderful. The kids and family always come first, and you do a fantastic job. xoxo
Double-edged sword is right. I agree wholeheartedly about compartmentalizing the time. I do so much better when I have my designating “blogging business” time vs the mindless scrolling. It gets all mirky for me, though, because I don’t get paid to blog. It’s not my job. And I blog and Facebook about real life–which is happening always.
Not so much a time-waster (except it IS!) as it is that I am very weary of putting all my daily stuff on The Internets for the world to see. And I want to undo the weird Internet-induced thinking that is this: “How can I work this into a post?”
Does that make sense?
To people who just read blogs but don’t live their life out as an illustration for others (good or bad) they may not understand why I’m in such a quandary. But you work on line–and you blog–so you probably get it a little more than most.
I don’t think you need to actually receive money in order for you to view your online work writing as work. If you volunteered at the SPCA you’d feel good about helping pets/others but could still go home at the end of the shift and focus on family, real life, etc.
Your writing helps people. It’s valuable, and it’s work — even if it’s not monetarily rewarded, it’s rewarding. It feels good to help others, and that’s immensely rewarding while being beneficial!
I get it. xoox
I’ve always treated it as “work” Stephanie–but I’ve never felt like I could say that out loud because the world sort of views blogging as a hobby. Unless, of course, it produces income.
Thanks for reminding me that I can call it work because it’s rewarding and beneficial because it helps people.
Well I don’t want you to disappear… at least say good bye. 🙂 I do want what is best for you and if that is absence here then by all means be absent. I do believe that in the balancing of all you have you just have to make those tough wise decisions. You don’t have to explain yourself. I am sure that the people who have read your blog over time would trust that you are doing that which would be most honoring to God and to those you love.
Whatever that is Sandy pursue it…. and enjoy that journey.
You always know how to say the right thing.
I hope you guys had a great Thanksgiving!!
I would miss you. That is all 😉
But I totally support you. As long as you don’t quit email too!
I can’t quit email. Every person on the planet contacts me that way. 🙂 I would miss you, too.
Sandy, I just got this blog in my email today and I need to tell you that it had to be inspired from our Heavenly Father. I have definitely needed to be reminded today that it’s ok to not do it all. Thanks!! I have loved reading your blog.
Thanks, Wendy. 🙂