Sometimes…it’s hard to remember life before Facebook. Life before knowing what a mere acquaintance in Oregon is eating for dinner. Or whose kid is reading ahead of mine, whose kid cut his own hair, whose bawled in Santa’s lap, or lost two teeth on the pavement. Life before instant and immediate connection.
But sometimes I do. I remember.
I remember the loneliness. The complete disconnect with anyone once I exchanged the paycheck world for one with my kids. I didn’t dress up anymore. Nothing fit anyway. Nothing save a light blue pair of sweats that flattered nothing I had and potentially matched nothing I could put on top. I showered. Most weeks. And I wound my wet hair into the same ponytail I’d just pulled it out of. I picked up puzzle pieces, pulled all-nighters, cried when my kid cried, and realized nothing I did was ever enough.
I was home. And yet home was killing me. I didn’t have what it took to be cried on or cried at or cried because of. I didn’t know why one kid wouldn’t sleep unless fastened in his car seat and never while driving. Or why we didn’t just buy forty binkies the first time we were at the store. In January that year, we enjoyed homemade quesadillas. Once. Then we ate them numbingly the rest of the month because that was about the best I could do. We did the same in February when I learned about grill cheeses.
What I could not create for myself, though, was connection. The longer I was alone, the harder it was to pick up the phone. I could no sooner desperately dial the number of a friend who’d casually said, “call me, if you need anything,” than I could remove the bags from under my eyes. I mean. What qualifies as ‘anything’?
And then I knew what it was. I had no lifeline. I received no accolades for changing a diaper that left two of my fingers smelling like diarrhea even after they’d been scrubbed. No ‘atta-girls’ for vacuuming. No words of appreciation for mated socks or a table with clutter only on one end of it.
And I get it. Sort of. These kinds of things don’t usually merit an “I-could-sure-use-your-help” kind of phone call. And so I didn’t call. Anyone. What I did do, though, was bewilder my husband. With glassy eyes and words that dropped like stones he tried to confirm the unbelievable. “You. Need me. To thank you. For all the stuff you do around here.”
And I nodded.
So when Facebook happened along with its status updates and ‘like’ buttons, it didn’t just save me, it saved my husband too.
Despite what Facebook has become to some, I’ve never bagged on it. Four years of free therapy is hard to come by anywhere else. And I’m grateful. Grateful for the chance to reenter the lives of friends; grateful to know and be known. Again.
I’m grateful for the decision to step back from Facebook. To close the computer. To disconnect entirely.
Because what happened this weekend is that I found my kids again. I found them. Not the other way around. When I gave up all things computery, I noticed their needs before they knew their needs. And I had the energy to fulfill them without sighing. I had time for dominoes on the floor. And games with cards. I read aloud from chapter books. And I laughed at a remark my daughter made. “Pure genius, that one,” I thought. And I laughed again. I rearranged the art in our house with my daughter’s help. I held my son longer. I blow dried my daughter’s hair for twelve minutes. And I fought the cobwebs that were taking over the whole house with the long end of the broom.
I also found myself.
I read for pleasure. I read to learn. I read to find a recipe for dinner. I unearthed my sewing machine and refolded the fabric beside it. I sat at the piano. And I played. Played pieces whose notes I strained to decipher and whose melodies hiccupped from the keys. The thing is. I had nowhere to be other than where I was.
In the present.
In this moment.
And you know what? It’s beautiful.This living on the other side of the screen.
Because there’s peace here. Peace in the disconnect. Peace and wholeness and love. Which, I suppose, really isn’t a disconnect at all. But a deeper connection to the ones who hold my heart.