I stood in the driveway in my pajama pants (the ones that look like leggings, not the ones with the fuzzy bunnies on them) and fleece-lined boots, watching the kids wander slowly up the street on their way to school. It was a lovely morning--it wasn't terribly cold and a light, fluffy snow was falling. Someday they'll thank me for letting them walk to school uphill in the snow, right?
I went in the house to refresh my coffee, forgotten on the table in the confusion of the preparing-for-school ritual--which always includes the boy rushing to finish everything he needs to finish and offering to help with any chores, Eddie Haskell-style, in exchange for computer time (that online Pokemon game won't play itself) while the girl slowly avoids her way through her morning responsibilities until I am compelled to raise my voice and then she slows down more and plays victim and then we have a discussion about how if she doesn't do what she needs to do then I can't do what I need to do and yes, that will make me yell and no, she doesn't get to cry about this because had she attended to her responsibilities it wouldn't have happened in the first place and I realize that there's not enough coffee in the world to settle the perpetual motion machine in my brain.
Like the mythological kraken, the tiny parts of my brain have been released; focus is unattainable for at least an hour or so. And to think, this used to be my best time of day.
A scant year ago, I had more responsibility outside of the home, which incongruously seemed to lead to more focus inside the home. The more responsibilities I have, the more I can get focused and get things done. Now I have freelance work that flies off in a zillion different directions, which is awesome. I have made tangible progress on my own writing projects--to the point where I've submitted a story I wrote in my teens (and have since edited and rewritten and updated and rewritten a jillion times) for a writing contest and I think I've got a pretty good shot (knock on wood). But all of these tangents have eroded my ability to focus. I know a to-do list helps, and I am a big believer in lists--but I seem to be really good at making lists and not so good at maintaining/updating said lists (exhibit A: the freezer inventory list that was last updated 45 meals ago is now a moot list). So lists just turn into paper flotsam that piles up and needs to be disposed of. I put that on my to-do list. It's a vicious cycle.
I've become things I never thought I would. A stay at home mom. Vice President of the PTA. An avid baker. Well, perhaps "avid" is too strong a word, but I am a regular baker. After telling a friend that I would rather indulge in fat grams than chemically-laden additives, I realized that in order to feed the cookie addiction raging in my home, this would entail baking. So I am now in pursuit of the perfect cookie recipe. I'm following through on things in life, away from the screen.
This week Facebook turned 10 (I'm sure you heard the news, saw the timeline videos on your friends' pages and maybe suppressed a mild shudder when you viewed your own), and there was a morning show segment asking: "where were you 10 years ago?"
I was not online, I can tell you that. I hadn't yet joined (and then quit) MySpace and hadn't heard of Facebook yet, either. Ten years ago, I spent my time in the world, interacting in real-time (be that good, bad or indifferent), mostly with my toddler son, the other ladies in our playgroups, and my husband. Oh, and I was pregnant.
Where was I 10 years ago? That's a loaded question that brings back lots of memories, raises lots of deep thoughts. I was not yet aware of the drama that would ensue surrounding my daughter's birth. I was a 30-something military wife and relatively new mother of one, surrounded by diapers and wipes and puffed cereal and Megablox and anxiety and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (I was pregnant, this was my craving). I was not who I am today: 40-something military (retired) wife and mother of 2, who spends what feels like 75% of any given day with my head stuck in my laptop.
It also demands a follow up: where do I want to be in 10 years? Do I want my connections to be virtual or actual? While I'm thankful for what the internet, Facebook, social media and countless hours of time spent on my computer has brought me in the form of connections and friends and happiness, I know when it's time to change. I can see the writing on the (Facebook) wall.
Right now I spend more time engaged in real-life than I do online. I sit down and talk to my kids (sometimes I yell), I make things out of yarn and paint and canvas, and I cook and bake from scratch as often as I can. I still spend more time than is probably good for me online, but it's a work in progress, just like the projects I make, just like the cookie recipes I'm perfecting to fill the big cookie jar that was my first purchase of the new year (at a store; not online). Spoiler alert: so far, the chocolate chip is the one to beat.