…is rotten. Just rotten.
Sweltering late summer in the Deep South combined with the unrelenting demands of a newborn create the perfect recipe for restlessness, and I was desperate to escape to the mountains. My husband, bless his soul, loves me an awful lot. He not only drove us several hours to the mountains but also delayed our departure by a few hours so that I could fulfill a special dream: apple picking with my children.
In my mind, the entire trip would be no less than perfection. In reality, however, I caught a most dangerous glimpse of myself as an information addict.
I recently read that Americans consume, brace yourself, an average of nine DVDs worth of traditional and digital media every single day. This is really an incredible human ability. Unfortunately, some of us have difficulty saying “No” to all of the technology-mediated information that is available at our fingertips literally every minute of the day.
My name is Lauren, and I am addicted to what I can learn from a colorful little screen.
It wasn’t until I was removed from my daily routine and environment (where no phone service was available) that I found myself irritable and unstimulated. It didn’t matter that my son was singing sweet songs in the backseat or that I finally was able to see the beauty of changing deciduous leaves. Unfortunately, for much of the trip, I felt like I was fighting the pleasure center of my brain to be present in mind, body, and soul for my family. After all, wasn’t my family what really matters?
The truth is, addiction, as Carl Sandburg once described of fog, “comes / on little cat feet”. Most of us don’t feel it, taste it, or challenge it until it begins to hurt us. For me this moment came when my son dropped my phone onto the ground while I was feeding my daughter. His act of toddler defiance, whether intended or not, said, “Mommy, am I not more important?”
Academics can develop within you a desire to know and learn at all times. This pursuit is frequently rewarded, and, if you aren’t careful, can actually be detrimental in other areas of your life. Seeking out interesting stories and the latest research enticed me to such an extent that, on my vacation, I yearned for my screen.
The good news is that each of us know ourselves, and we usually have an inkling as to how to dispose of the rotten fruit borne of addiction. For myself, this will involve me consistently putting my phone and computer out of reach and opening my mind to the vulnerability of rest. Although no behavior change is easy, I have found that it usually takes about one week of “bad habit detox” before I believe in my dominion over my struggle. The rest, past experience has demonstrated, requires a loving environment of support.
Perhaps the greatest lesson in all of this is that, though I may be a mother, I am still a learner, and my children are the greatest teachers I could ever hope to have.