Staying Connected Keeps Me Alive

kitchen spaghetti

Years ago, before I had two kids, I read about living a simpler life. Now, if I want to disconnect and take a walk in the woods, I must pack diapers and band aids and snacks and sunscreen, and then catch a bus and listen to Phoebe whine about tired feet before we even reach the forest.

I’m tired, too, tired of cooking from scratch and sharing a car. I just spent the morning yelling at Phoebe for not putting away her toys. I could throw away the toys. I tried that once. But I think tripping over toys is just a symptom. Phoebe is as lonely as I am—she is just trying to cope by keeping things she loves close at hand.

When I broke my phone a couple months ago, I felt cut off and had a meltdown. I screamed at Matt, “This house is my cage.” It felt like part of me was dying inside— my iPhone is a lifeline. People tell me my life would be more centered if I stuck to taking care of the house and kids. Meanwhile, friends are deleting their online accounts. They believe that social media merely distracts them from living connected lives.

I met Cherrisa through Instagram and discovered we live only 10 minutes apart. The first time we texted, we talked for hours, and I fell asleep with my phone on the pillow. A week later, she was diagnosed with cancer. When I visited her home, our girls hit it off, too, and we stayed hours longer than we’d planned. Then I cried all the way home from the thought of losing her.

tug a war

Instead of being connected to The World or other moms or people online, maybe I need to try to just focus on being more connected to my kids? But I’m so exhausted I find it really hard to care about knock-knock jokes while I’m juggling a cranky baby and trying to read a text from Matt that says we can’t afford to buy a half gallon of milk.

Each day, I steal moments for painting, standing in the kitchen, while the baby chews on chips at my feet. I can earn enough for each painting I create to help put milk in the fridge. But sometimes I am stuck while she nurses, and I stare at photos on my phone from the day, preoccupied with who I am online, wondering what I’ll edit for instagram, searching my heart to find something honest and meaningful to say. But all I want to do is rest. I worry that the idea of who I am online has veered away from my actual self. So I hide on tumblr and reblog memes I didn’t write on an anonymous account.

I’m tired of eating beans and quinoa, so I make brownies, which of course spikes Phoebe’s blood sugar and she’s bouncing off the walls. I hope the sugar in my breastmilk doesn’t keep the baby awake.

I’m standing in the kitchen with Matt late at night. I ask, “Do you want me to stop working?”

“No.”

“But I don’t have energy to work and do the dishes. I’m so tired.”

“I’ll do the dishes.”

“But I miss you. I’d rather spend time with you.”

“I know. I miss you, too.”

Instead of doing dishes, we watch TV, until the baby cries.

family

I wake up in the middle of the night and curse the brownies for screwing with my sleep rhythm. I check Instagram. One of my followers sent me a private message. She’s been struggling with motherhood, and my posts help her feel less alone. There’s something about her photos that pulls me in. I scroll back, hearting photos here and there, leaving comments, until the baby rolls over, laughs to find me awake, and tries to teethe on my phone.

I toss the phone aside. She tries to stand and crashes into my belly. Her giggles remind me of what I lose sight of: that struggling together is what connects me to her and to others and to Matt, and all of this is how we grow.

3 Responses to Staying Connected Keeps Me Alive

  1. Jeniffer Smith September 7, 2016 at 12:12 pm #

    THIS. There’s something beautiful in sharing our broken bits. Your posts have always made me feel less alone, especially during the foggy years with babies and breastfeeding. They continue to help me find myself. I’m trusting that you’ll find new depths to yourself as well. <3

  2. Kylee September 7, 2016 at 1:45 pm #

    Yes to all of this. I recently became a SAHM, I’m also an artist, my husband works out of state M-F and we live in a rural area. My phone is my lifeline to other adults. I can relate to the financial struggle, as well. And, my youngest is named Phoebe. So glad I stumbled across your Instagram account.

  3. souphead September 7, 2016 at 8:27 pm #

    i would be so lonely if i quit social media. it gets in my head too much sometimes so I have to avoid FB and stick with twitter lists to keep the noise out. But the connections I’ve found online – especially with very few local mama friends (none really, just parents of neighbor kids I rarely see because J does 95% of the playground runs) – they’re invaluable. twitter is my village.
    i get both sides, but if it’s valuable to you, it has value – and that’s all that should matter.
    xo

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