I'm sitting here on the couch, warm laptop in my lap, fingers on the keys, pondering the topic for the post I'm committed to writing tonight. For the past hour I've been reading some of my favorite blogs, commenting on them, answering emails and giggling at some tweets I came across. Then Hannah (who has been sitting next to me watching her pre-bedtime-routine television) turned to me and said, "mommy, why can't we remove our nose from our face?". I looked at her with I'm sure an exasperated look and asked her if she was serious. "Yes, mommy."

"Do you really think it should be possible to remove your nose Hannah?"
"Well, no, but I'm just wondering what makes it so that we can't?"
I went on to answer her best I could (something about muscles and cartilage and skin connecting the nose to the rest of the face) but I know I had a snappy tone about me.
She looked satisfied with the answer, but not with me.

"What are you doing mommy?" she went on to ask as she crawled halfway on top of me, with her face directly in front of the computer screen.
"Writing my stories sweetie, the ones I write all the time."
"But who was that girl that was on your computer before?" she asked. She was referring to the latest post from one of my new favorite blogs A Design so Vast which has a picture of her daughter at the start of it. I hadn't realized Hannah was looking over my shoulder at it.

"Oh, I was reading a story that a friend had written."
This lead to questions regarding this friend, her daughter, where they live, why she hasn't met them if they're my friend, etc. It's hard enough explaining this "world" to my husband let alone my four year old daughter.
"Can you read it to me?"
"No, I don't think you'd really enjoy it. It's a big person story."
"I like all stories mommy, PLEASE read it to me? Or one of the ones you've written? Can you read one of those to me?"
Funny how one of the only people in my real life who WANTS to be a part of this world is too young to understand it.

It made me think about how "connected" I am all the time through my blog, other blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Email, etc. But how disconnected it often makes me from what is right in front of me. I wondered how long Hannah had been looking at my computer, imagining who the people were on the screen, trying to sound out some words to make sense of it all. She didn't ask me for my attention but I realized, she probably wanted it.

And it's not just Hannah that this world disconnects me from. It's Luke when he's sprinting around in the basement with his cars and balls and every time my iPhone buzzes, I turn to look at it. It's Tim when he gets home from work and I'm so desperate for some down time where I can turn to this world and get lost for a short time. I see how my parents look at me when I am scrolling and tapping on my phone throughout a visit to their house to see what's "going on" on Facebook and Twitter. Someone emails me... I respond. I know they wonder what could possibly be so important. It's not like I "work" or anything and have important business to tend to. It's just how I feel "connected".

I haven't read a magazine in months. I don't pick up the phone very often to chat with friends (except a key few who I'd be lost without hearing their voices). I don't watch any TV. I'd rather connect here. So much effort goes into the "reconnection" after not having spoken to a friend in a long time. But here, it's easy. It's safe. It's not confrontational. There's no BS. There's no one-upmanship. And if there is, I can skim over it.

I don't want to become disconnected though. I don't want the only warmth that Hannah feels as we lay next to each other on the couch, to be the warmth from my laptop. I've had the discussion often with friends that the way "kids" communicate these days is scary. There is so little face-to-face social interaction. Everything is through tweets and texts. Kids aren't learning how to "be" with each other. They have short attention spans. They don't know how to form complex thoughts because all that is required is 120 character tweets. They are behind closed doors and in front of dimly lit screens. What my friends and I have not discussed however, or maybe we've avoided it, is that it's not just kids. With the ease of connection so many of us have become strangely disconnected. Especially when those closest to us are so removed from this world.

My best friend, my husband, is not my friend on FB (he's no one's friend since he doesn't have an account), he does not follow me on Twitter (again, no account), he only reads my blog if I ask him to (and then only sometimes does he actually read it) and has absolutely no interest in the other blogs I read. It's a big part of my world that he's completely disconnected from. He understands it's my "thing" and doesn't feel the need to partake in it.

How often do we see parents out and about with their kids but totally not with their kids as they type away on their Blackberries? I watch kids searching for eye contact, attention and enthusiasm from their parents as they explore at the children's museum near my house only to find their full attention on the PDA in front of them. It's not what a day with the kids is supposed to be. And at the same time I see families out to dinner with their kids on their Gameboys. Disconnected. Quiet and well behaved, but not "there". I choose not to bring my kids out to dinner, which one could debate is just as disconnected, or more, but if I'm with them... I hope that they'll be "with" me. There's no right or wrong here... and you may find me in the not so distant future sitting at dinner with my two kids both on iTouches. If you do, please don't judge!

I keep telling myself I'm going to have "black" hours during the day where I do not pick up my iPhone. I do not check in on my computer. Where I'm just me. I need to do that. I need my kids to see that I can be 100% "there". I hate that I feel the need to always be connected. And I wonder if Hannah only asked me about the removal of noses to get me to pay attention to her and "be" with her. Because really, she couldn't have been serious about that question, could she?


Kelly @ The Miller Mix said...

She was likely very serious about the question AND wanted your attention. I struggle with the same issues, especially since I work from home and am often required to pop open the laptop during traditional family hours (I must be there when they need me). I'm learning to prioritize, but it's HARD. I hope you find a solution that works for everyone.

Nicki said...

It is hard to balance "this time" with "away time." I take days off. I have already set up a few blog posts for the weekend. I am going to check my mail early Friday and then head to a friend's pottery studio and to play some pool with another friend. Saturday, I am not sure about but I will most likely be "offline" or as off as I can get.

I have found I have to schedule offline time as much as I schedule online time.

Kristen said...

I love that you wrote this, Becca. I think about this issue of connectedness all the time, especially as I've waded deeper into the waters of the blogosphere the past month or so.

I love Hannah's question and the potential metaphor: Why can't we remove our noses from our electronic screens? Why can't we keep our noses (and the faces they're attached to) connected to our "real" lives? (After all, if we don't, what will we have to blog about?!)

TKW said...


Lindsey said...

Oh, Becca, I think of this ALL the time. I have been mulling it a lot. I feel so connected to this world, and to you all, but I know it takes me away from my "real life" - but what is "real"? What is the definition of real?
Hmmm. I'm definitely not ready to bid farewell to this world that has so quickly come to mean so much to me, though!

Tina Lane said...

Thank you for the drama, Mama. I am just entering this world of domestic life, though no kids yet. I am new to being the "user of the bacon" so it is comforting to see others embracing that role.

Found you on SITS.

Sarah said...

Fantastic post. Fantastic thoughts.
And much of it (if not all) I totally agree with.

I find that the connectedness online comes and goes in spurts. Like my sex life (that's the easiet thing to compare it too, LOL). I balk at the fact that I don't have enough real life connections that actually live NEARBY. But right now, at this time in my life, with my schedule, with my kids' ages, it's really hard. I don't make excuses. I would love to grab coffee with a friend, or call someone up to chat. It's just. SO. HARD.

Right now it is hard.

But it will get easier.

And so for now? For now it is my blogging. For which I am so thankful.

But I hear you on the BLACK HOURS. I totally completely hear you.

And I also hear you on the PDA thing. The constant checking in with my phone. However, I don't feel guilty. I'm there for my kids. I can't be 100% there 100% of the time. Sometimes, like kids need distraction from a temper tantrum or an alluring lollipop, I need distraction from my real life, and from them.

It's a dynamic and deeply threaded topic.
But I hear you.
On all of it!

Liz said...

Becca...since you've chosen to "let go" and just write...whether serious or silly, your blog has just gotten better and better. What a wonderful post to honest, and so ironic on the last day of 5 for TEN which we all loved so much. Here we are celebrating these communities we've built (that we NEED to build, to maintain, to be a part of), but need to be more aware of the communities of our families...the ones we see as distractions to our "connecting." Right on with this post.

Jen said...

I identified most with your paragraph about your husband. My sweetie doesn't do FB, Twitter, blogs. He barely checks e-mail. We are very different. Sometimes it hurts a little, because he doesn't really get it, and because he is kind of cynical about the Internet in general. Too difficult to explain here. I understand so much the connections you feel with the presences within the blogging world, in particular. It is a strange, difficult-to-define relationship. But it is one(s) to nurture. And I'm glad to have "met" you. And the next time I'm in Stamford, I'm stopping by. :) Maybe our Sweeties would get along.

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