A week ago, my friend's sister posted a challenge on her blog: quit the internet. Not forever; just one day a week. She realized that she was in dire need of a Sabbath and that the internet was keeping her from that, and she she's decided to put away her computer one day out of every seven, spending the summer actually resting on the day of rest.
I'm not too proud of the fact that I read that post, felt incredibly convicted, and then completely ignored the feeling. Until yesterday.
Yesterday was a ship-wide blackout, a day when the generators went silent while they replaced the pipe that carries seawater into the cooling system. I woke up at eight, startled by the silence as the A/C shut off and Zoe's monitor stopped humming her white noise at me. The whole day stretched out in front of us, dark and quiet. We'd been out late the night before, so we decided just to stay on board and give Zoe a day on her regular schedule.
About two minutes into it, I started wondering whether I had any Facebook notifications. A minute after that I reached for my iPod to take a photo to post on Instagram. Thirty seconds later, I was writing a status update in my head, and that's when I knew I had a real problem.
Like a true addict, my first thought was to ignore the realization, to keep silent and not say anything, but suddenly I found myself blurting out my secret to the HoJ while Zoe played on the floor between us. I explained to him that I'd decided to take the plunge and turn off the internet every Sunday, that it was starting to take over my life and that I needed to get control. As a young mom living overseas and raising my in-laws' only grandchild, there's a fine line to be walked. I can't disappear forever; staying connected to loved ones back home is important, and so I'm not crazy enough to chuck my computer overboard. But one day a week is a good start.
When the Husband of Joy kindly pointed out that yesterday was, in fact, not Sunday, I twitchily replied that addicts don't always get to choose when they start rehab; sometimes they just get dropped off at the front door and have to go cold turkey. That was me yesterday. When the lights came on a little after six in the evening, my first impulse was to open my computer, check my e-mail, make sure that the world hadn't stopped turning without me.
But I didn't.
I put on some music, fed my kid dinner, and went outside to play with her until bedtime. I gave her a bath, put her to bed, and curled up on the couch with a book. I read until I was tired, and then, for the first time in months, I fell asleep without any problems. (Clue number 487 that too much computer time is not good for me.)
And here's the thing that should come as a shock to absolutely no one: I'm a better mother when I'm unplugged.
I'm more attentive, more patient, and much more creative when I'm not just marking time until I can get back on my computer. I think I came up with four new songs yesterday alone. (I'm pretty sure only Zoe likes my songs now that Hailey's gone, but she's a pretty rewarding audience, so it's worth it.) Zoe, in turn, is happier and less demanding. This is what's known in the mothering business as a win-win. Or, alternatively, Praise the Lord, how on earth have I not realized this sooner? When I stopped doing things so that I could take pictures of them and post them on Facebook and instead just enjoyed the time with Zoe, free from the pressure to capture every moment of it, condense it into a single photo or fifteen seconds of video along with a pithy tag line and just the right #hashtag, it was absolutely liberating.
So sing with me, people. They tried to make me go to rehab, and I said, "You know what? This has really been a long time coming!" (See what I mean about my songs not being awesome?) Sundays from here on in will be internet-free, and I'm pretty sure the other six days are going to look a little different, too.
Zoe, for one, is probably going to be getting a lot more bubble baths out of this deal. I think it's safe to say that she approves of the new order of things.
What about you? Is this striking the same kind of chord with you that it did with me? Is there something you need to take a break from in your life? Don't ignore that feeling any longer; join me in recovery.