This morning, I read a post that broke my heart. A mom rewrote the Harry Chapin song "Cat's in the Cradle," and titled it "Mom's on the Computer." You can read it here. The point is basically a reminder that your kids are going to see and imitate what you do. The mom spends a lot of time at the computer, focused on things like Facebook, blogging, and Twitter, and lets other important things slide-- like time with her child. In the end, it comes full circle, and the mom wants to spend time with her grown-up son and he's too busy, but he offers to Skype instead.
Now, the original song makes me cry every time I hear it. But this post absolutely broke my heart. Because the truth is, I spend too much time on the computer. I know I do. Who knows how many times I've chosen to sit at the computer writing a blog post or playing around on Facebook, while I put my kids off and tell them, "Wait just a minute, I'll be done soon." And I am already seeing the fruits of this; my 7 year old would be happy to spend every waking hour in front of the television or a video game if I'd let him, and recently my 15 month old has even started pointing at the television and trying to say "TV." Something has to change.
I think people, perhaps women especially, are wired to crave connection with other people. Modern culture doesn't lend itself to that easily, so instead of spending time with other people, many of us tend to get online to connect. When I was a child, my mom spent a lot of time talking to her friends on the phone. She was trying to fulfill that need to connect with other people, and now I am staying home with my kids and using the internet to do the same thing.
Now, I know someone is reading this and thinking that I'm about to say the internet and social media are evil, and that women should focus solely on their children. Well, that's not what I'm saying. While parents should obviously spend time with their children and give them plenty of attention, it would be unhealthy for a parent to spend 100 percent of her time and energy focused on her children. The need to connect with other people is real, and while the internet and social media can definitely be used as tools to meet this need, they can also easily be overused. Balance is needed.
The post I read this morning reminded me how much more important it is to spend time with my children than to write a blog post or check Facebook. I need balance in my life. If the kids are at home and awake, I have no business sitting around on the computer. I need to be spending time with them, building a better connection and a closer relationship. (Yes, I see the irony in writing a blog post about this-- but for the record, my 7 year old is at school, and my 15 month old is taking a nap.)
I need balance. Our whole family needs balance. Computers and television and video games can be useful and fun, but they've been given too high a priority in our lives. And I'm done. If the kids are here and awake, the computer's off. I can't do it anymore, and I won't do it anymore. It's time to break the cycle. I don't want my children to feel like anything is more important than they are, especially not the computer, and I don't want them to grow up and be just like me.