I’ve been journaling every morning this week. It’s been a long time. Curiously, the thrill of technology is what has enticed me back into the practice—we got a Smart Pen for my husband on his fortieth birthday, and he has kindly given me one of the special notebooks and let me use his pen. It lets me save image files of whatever I write in this notebook onto my computer. I’m not sure why I am totally thrilled with that, but suffice it to say I love technology. And the process of journaling every morning has definitely kindled my creative fire.
But technology is like alcohol. Moderation is key. We’ve been having a little trouble with that lately. We’ve been getting a little drunk off Facebook, Netflix Instant Watching, XBox, and Wii. Yes. We partake of all these things. Should we be in a 12-step program? Can we moderate our relationship with technology? I’ve been wondering if we need to take a step back, give the Waldorf “no media” principle a try.
I’m not there yet. I’m a homeschooling mother, and an artist, and a writer. I also garden a lot. I have a little chart to keep track of how I spend my time, and I have charts for McKinley and Renee as well. Sometimes, however, I simply must spend a large block of time on something that requires my full attention. Which means shutting the door and telling my kids they can make do on their own. And, oooh baby, technology makes that easier.
The other night, though, I made an announcement: “No screens for a month! No laptops in the house!” Computers could be in the shop and the studio, but not the house. My laptop included. The Wii and the XBox were going to jail, since they’re Evil.
But this is what happened: intense negotiation. McKinley had just purchased a used Spiderman XBox game. The thought of not being able to play his new game was driving him mad. Our compromise? The XBox and Wii could be kept up in my studio loft.
Oh boy. Have I lost my mind?
Maybe. This is my gamble. I don’t get enough time in the studio. There’s a certain gravitational force to my home, and usually I don’t have the energy to get past it, to the outer atmosphere of my own creativity. I think mothers everywhere can relate to this. This morning, my kids were hounding me to get up to the studio, because they wanted to play their new games! Is this a good thing?
Like all gambles, I don’t know how this one will play out. We’ve started this on a weekend, when I’m more lax about how they spend their time anyway. McKinley is away at a friend’s and Renee is happily trading reading for Wii time. How will things pan out on Monday? Will we all climb the short, steep hill to my studio and delve into assorted projects? Or will it be a relentless battle to engage them in anything other than technology? Because what I want for my children is their full engagement with the world, the thrill of living an every day affair. It’s the same thing I want for myself.