It’s not very often that I use this blog to write a big long post about What I Think. This is partly because I don’t have a lot of time, partly because I’m lazy and don’t want to take the trouble, partly because I’m afraid I’m wrong and wiser people will laugh at me, and partly because I know that various students and school folk read this blog and I worry that it wouldn’t be prudent for everyone to know their teacher’s wife’s thoughts.
Lately, however, I have been feeling as though I need to make myself think more in general, and about better things. When you spend most of your time dealing with very young humans, it can be easy to slide by on the bare minimum and have a thought life mostly concerned with food, cleaning, shopping, and Duplos. (And some days are just going to be like that, no matter how elevated you want to be.) The problem is, this doesn’t make very good grounds for conversation with a husband who reads all sorts of good and challenging books and has a very interesting thought life. Or with your friends and family, for that matter. When someone asks, “Did anything exciting happen to you today?” it’s disappointing to find that the culmination of your precious free time was catching up on the blogs of people you don’t know and finding a cute striped backpack for $24.
The problem isn’t that I don’t read anything, it’s that what I read is almost exclusively on the internet. I used to be a big craft & design blog follower, partly because it gave me what I thought were good ideas and partly because it was fun to be on top of the trends for once. Ever since I was in high school and first became aware that I had no idea what clothes were cool or what music was new, I have wanted to be on top of something. However, I found that in the end these blogs just ate up a lot of my time without really affecting my life. Knowing what great choices are currently available in $2000 sofas is really pretty useless in day-to-day living on a teacher’s budget. I also realized that a steady stream of enviable photos of other people’s houses did, in fact, make me envy and that I just needed to cut back. So I did. But over time, a few more stops got added to my daily internet route. I still follow 2 or 3 design blogs and have added a few more lifestyle bloggers whose writing and taste I enjoy. Oh, and then I added in some baby sales websites that have tempted me more than once to make purchases a bit out of my budget. And facebook. And then there’s Pinterest, which is simultaneously an awesome place to keep visual bookmarks and a massive black hole that wants to suck up all your free time.
When I add it all up, the sum of time I spend on the internet while nursing the babe can be regrettably high and not really very satisfying. Sometimes I’m looking for ideas for a specific project and looking leads to doing, but more often then not I’m just looking and wanting and those words and images end up going nowhere. It’s like flipping through Vogue all the time when you know that you can’t afford a single thing advertised. So then, why do it? I like to think that “getting inspiration” justifies a lot of internet gawking, but if I’m not actually inspired to do anything, what difference has it made?
Now that I have a bonafide toddler, I realize that I forgot how much kids love candy. Camilla loooooves sweets. And if sweets are present in the vicinity of dinner, the grilled chicken and vegetables just don’t look appetizing anymore. Pretty much every time I want to correct Camilla for some shortcoming in her little life, I realize that I have a grownup version that I don’t want to extinguish. Do you want to eat jelly beans instead of green beans? Well, mama would like to read a blog instead of beginning St. Augustine’s Confessions. Do you want that Hello Kitty backpack at Target? Mama’s not going to get it for you, but she will make you sit patiently in the cart while she peruses the clothing & shoes. The other day I read a friend’s facebook update about how upset she is with her children’s obsession with toys. We’re not quite to that stage yet, but I’m sure we will be in a year or two and I realized that if I am going to ask Camilla to temper her materialism and desire for more, I had better not be spending all my free time looking for new shirts.
Anyhow, all of these thoughts and observations have combined into the realization that I need new reading material. Husband puts it quite succinctly: “Read more old books.” Since I enjoy having my hands free to do a small project at the same time, I think I might also try good podcasts (I love Ancient Faith Radio and need to get back in touch with This American Life) and there are quite a few free audiobooks available online. I listened to Frankenstein that way last year when husband was teaching it in class and really enjoyed it. Got a lot of knitting done, too.
So my new, small, practical goal (i.e. the best kind of goal in my life right now) is to check email and facebook everyday but only look at blogs two or three times a week. And when I’m coasting around the internet, it needs to be because I’m looking for something in particular (i.e. kimono onesies for an ever-growing babe) and I need to do my best not to go down those time-sucking rabbit trails.
Any suggestions for good quality reading or listening material that you want to send my way?