When we renovated our kitchen a few years ago I was so psyched to build in my “Command Central,” a desk with a bulletin board to keep track of schedules, birthday parties, class lists, and emergency numbers. And of course, the crown jewel of Command Central would be my MacBook laptop — right there at my fingertips whenever I needed it. It would be great! I’d always be only a few feet away should I ever want to check my email or look up a recipe or read my facebook news feed, or see who is being skewered on gawker, or look up a phone number, or order that book Funny Frank Abby has been begging for, or google the woman I’m interviewing with the next morning, or open the soccer schedule that is saved in an Excel file to see if we can indeed plan on a road trip Saturday without missing a game, or see what the weather is tomorrow — in Hong Kong, too! Where my brother- and sister-in-law live! — or check the traffic on DALS, or the comments on DALS, or see what time Ramona and Beezus is playing or the flight is landing or 30 Rock is premiering….
God. Damn. I spend too much time on the computer. And I hate myself for it. The thing is, when I look at this list, most of the things up there are family-related. Searches and purchases and general organizing meant to make children happier and jam-packed days smoother. But, of course, this is not how my daughter sees it.
“Mom, stop working! Turn off the computer!”
I’m not working! Don’t you understand? I am booking your pottery lessons! And your vacation tickets! And by the way, kiddo, even if I was working, this computer allows me to do it from home so that I may greet you and your sister at the bus stop every day at 3:00. So that I may accompany you to ballet, so that I am free to read Amos and Boris to your class in the middle of the day, so that I may accompany you to doctor’s appointments without destabilizing the fragile atom that is the dual-working-parent calendar.
But all this is gray area stuff. And with kids there ain’t no gray area. To them, I’m either on the computer and disengaged or I’m off the computer and engaged.
So for the next two weeks, while I head down south for vacation, I’m engaging. I’m keeping the laptop closed during my children’s waking hours. (Notice the way that is phrased. If it was closed for the entire vacation this post would be called “My Digital Detox.” What I am attempting here is more like a Daytime Diet.)
This doesn’t mean there won’t be DALS posts. There will be lots of them. Andy and I will be chiming in sporadically, but over the next ten days, you’ll be hearing from some new voices, too — some of my favorite people, writers, muses, and kitchen heroes — all of them parents attempting to do the most primal of duties: feed their young.
If you are not detoxing yourself, I hope you’ll check in to hear what they have to say.