Friday, June 28, 2013

Old School

I've been doing some reading and thinking about being online, using the internet, and being attached to my iphone. As it happens, several blog posts/ebooks/comments on just this topic have found their way into my awareness lately, and when combined with my Miss Mason reading, well, there are some interesting issues to consider for a homeschooling mama:)

First, I read this backpost by Kate Wicker, a writer I like very much. In it, she pours out her heart about why she needed to get off the computer and become a "part of the story." Here are a couple of sections which really spoke to me:

"But it wasn’t until I took a step away from writing about my life that I realized yes, I was there with my kids, but there was often something dividing us like a scrim. I was so intent on preserving memories that I wasn’t always a fully present part of making them. Mothers are first and foremost called to be memory makers, not memory keepers. My children are keepers of their own memories, but how I engage with them can influence how they remember things....

Meanwhile, my children were growing up. There were too many days when I felt frazzled because I was doing something that I thought had to be done when it didn’t. The connection between mother and child that I have written so passionately about in the past just wasn’t there, or it wasn’t as strong as it could be. So I decided after my husband’s urging to take a break – a blogging sabbatical, I called it. But it was more than that. I drastically reduced the amount of time I spent in front of the computer or with my eyes glued to my iPhone."

In an earlier post, she really taps into a feeling I myself have had:

"When I talk about my need to cut back, I do not intend to make others feel guilty. We all have different sleep needs, temperaments, working arrangements, husbands, and children. All of this comes in to play when we’re discerning how much is too much. I have my own personal litmus test when it comes to gauging whether or not I should be logging in more or less time online. When I find myself getting twitchy or anxious or when I realized that I was, however innocuously, gently or absentmindedly, shooing a child away while I wrote something to encourage other moms to savor motherhood and their little ones (irony!), I knew it was time to take a step back."

And this, her best piece on this internet overload thing:

What if I disappeared from the online world (with the exception of email) and just focused on building relationships with my husband, my children, and friends I can regularly hang out with at the park? 

What if I stopped making excuses about not having time for prayer and showed up to listen to God half as much as I showed up to blog, send a tweet, or check in with Facebook? 

What if I never published another thing in Cyberspace and just wrote what I wanted to write when I wanted to write it in old-fashioned journals? 

What if I completely ignored the siren song of all those chirps and beeps from my Smart Phone and showed my children I’m smarter than any phone because I know what’s really important in life? 

What if I just went cold turkey on it all – blogging, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. – would I miss it? 

What if I stopped thinking of God as my Xanax in the sky and really talked to Him instead of reading about Him or reading about how others relate to Him online? 

Granted, a lot of what she writes is about blogging, which she does a lot of, and writing, which she also does a lot of. But it's also so applicable to the way so many of us use the a distraction tool for when we are overwhelmed, bored, needing to be carried away. And in the background? The kids we are homeschooling and raising for God. And mama? She's online reading about homeschooling and how others are teaching their children the faith. This disconnect is screaming at me.

Another blogger I enjoy: Sarah Mae. She has really been tuning into this topic lately. In fact, she has a new ebook about it, which I can tell you is wonderful and helpful. Just today, this post about getting rid of her iphone so she can't be tempted into being distracted from her children.

And Miss Mason. Dear Miss Mason. She has given us a high standard, yes? Nature study, reading, arithmetic, geography, picture study, languages, composers. All of that takes time. Time not just for the children doing the work, but for the teacher who is not only planning and organizing and listening to narrations, but expanding her own "mother culture." And because we are not "just" teachers but also mommies and wives, is it possible to do all of those things well if we our attention is spilt in 10 directions, leaping to respond to texts, emails, check Facebook, scroll through forums, keep up with Feedly, and research out of print book gems we just might have missed? I'm not sure. Would Miss Mason have loved the internet and proclaimed its joys from the rooftops? I'm not sure.

I'm not sure where this leaves us. My mind goes back to my grandmother, as it often does. She was old school. No tv. Certainly no computer. A land line on a rotary phone. She cooked from scratch. Everything. She knew scripture forwards and back. She read a lot and wrote a book. She wrote letters, guys. Letters. On real paper, by hand, and she wrote them to friends she knew back home in Oklahoma, newspapers which ticked her off, and me, to encourage me to love the Lord. She had no internet presence, but she lived completely present.

I don't think there's a way to go backwards, and in so many ways, I don't want to. I love Google maps and that it will "talk" to me as I drive and tell me where to go. I do love texts for quick messages and email for longer notes. I love online shopping and Amazon Prime. There are blogs I do truly love and get a lot out of. And there's this little 'ol blog with my dear friend, which I enjoy participating in, and hope to do more of as we start first grade in the fall. But.

I do feel like the internet is taking me away. Do I want my kids to remember that Mommy was always on the computer? It's not like I'm sitting in front of it all day, but it's always around, ready to fill up any gap in time, any moment that needs a quick fix of distraction and easy entertainment. Am I irritated by their needs when I'm interrupted while reading a super funny blog article? How much time do I spend in prayer versus time with my eyes on a screen? I'm not sure I want that answer.

I'm also not sure where I'm going with this. It might just be me, incapable of being moderate in my screen time. But I know we only have one chance at having these precious little people here at home with us, ready to embrace the beauty of the world, and can I really teach it and share it if I'm there but not all?  Do the forums need me, or do the kids? It feels as though there has been this confluence of voices urging a move to less internet time,  more real, true, connected time, and I think it might be the beginning of my shift to being old school. Which means: fewer email checks, blog reading once a day instead of refreshing when I feel bored, making a list of things I "have to check on" online (I'm sure that by the end of the day, those things don't actually need checking), staying off the forums unless I have something I need to ask or research, and maybe even deleting FB altogether (I hate that thing anyway).

I'll keep you posted:) Meanwhile, I will get back to our Volume 1 study very soon, keeping planning for fall, and I will smooch these sweet faces here in front of me.


  1. Angela
    I hear what you are saying, it is a good question to continually ask ourselves. Certainly one I've taken a look at and made some decisions about. Why don't you take a few baby steps and adjust and then add some more. Start with deleting fb if you don't like it, the world will indeed keep spinning, or perhaps cut your friend list down to relatives and closest friends..

    Do you need an iphone? and old mobile let's people ring and no internet access.

    Be intentional about your online time, write a list of how you use the internet, allocate time to those areas per day. ie Emails - 15 min check and answer. blog reading 15 min, read and comment (this may mean you need to select on 30 blogs for your reader) pinterest - once a week etc.

    Plan what you will blog about and when before you sit at the computer. It really streamlines and is far more effective use of your time. Also once you've jotted it in your notebook you are not thinking about it, then you can really focus on your family.

    Anyhow you probably know all this, just thinking aloud to myself again to renew my commitment, I do slip when I'm not disciplined.

  2. This post really resonates with me, Angela. I am in the same place. Thank you for pulling these magnificent quotes together and expressing your own struggles in this area so thoughtfully and transparently.

  3. Thank you, Dawn for your kind words. Let me know how it's going with you:)