Suburban Snapshots

I Almost Broke My New Year's Resolution Writing This

Sunday, January 05, 2014

I never officially plan to make a New Year's resolution. When I have, they've not been very original: eat less junk, be kinder, workout more. I think the problem is that I'm not displeased enough. I like me, I'm easily contented.

But sometimes Steve will pass a comment about my face being "buried in your laptop" and those get me, because he doesn't ask for much and I can tell it's something that bothers him. I want him to know that I'm interested in his company and don't want my kindergartner to think that what I'm doing online is more riveting than she is (though honestly the story about how Olivia got to play Mother Mary in the school pageant is like two years old and getting pretty tired). I don't want her to grow up believing that nodding at a screen is an acceptable way to interact with someone in the same room.

The computer is a lot of things for me. Because I work alone at home and desperately miss office banter, it's my water cooler. Because I have friends living in all kinds of time zones with offspring at every stage, it's my long-distance call. It's where I read the news, it's where I do all of my job work and my side work, it's where I have really interesting conversations with friends I've never met. I unwind here and I learn things here every day. I think the web is an amazing, collaborative space. I'm not striving to be hands-free, just to remember what I used to do before my life online (which I'm guessing was watch television and make shitty relationship choices because I was in my 20s).

The Internet is a big part of my routine, and though my house is reasonably tidy, dinner is cooked each night, the cupboards are stocked, child hugged and read to, husband given all those things husbands so enjoy, I am showered and dressed, bills paid, appointments scheduled and pets fed, and I feel productive, I know I can cut back.

So I asked Steve what concrete things I could do to improve this habit of mine. He said what drives him the most nuts is when we're out, I take photos and post them, and he thinks sometimes I'm more focused on making content than on the moment — he rolled his eyes into his brain stem when I joined Instagram. I do think about content, I love putting out stories that people will laugh with or relate to. I explained that and so we compromised — I'll take photos, but not post or check anything otherwise when we're out together. Done.

I also plan to once again institute my after-work blackout policy. I try, from when I finish work until Anna's in bed, to not engage online — no laptop, no phone, no iPad. We don't watch television much at all (we don't have cable because we're cheap, not because we're those insufferable people who have no TVs and tell you ALL ABOUT IT), so in a week you'll be able to see the spick-and-span gleam on my house from space.

We'll see how it goes. The changes are small, but they'll take some willpower. Realistically, I'm not going to cut back on using devices and with my new spare time go and re-tile the bathroom, but if I'm modeling better things for my kid and causing my husband less agita, that'll be enough of an accomplishment for me.

Did you make any resolutions this year?

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