I recently started becoming aware of my attachment to Instagram. It had become my happy place, the antithesis of Facebook ranting and stressful parenting. Lost in a stream of garden design, cozy British cottage interiors, weeknight supper ideas, and Kate Middleton updates, I didn’t have to tap into my exhaustion from a night of multiple newborn feedings or 4-year-old wrangling. My phone was in-hand everywhere I went and I know my husband was beginning to wonder if I had some sort of intestinal abnormality from the amount of time I spent hiding in the bathroom mindlessly scrolling.
One day it dawned on me: a function of our nanny’s job was to take care of my children while I was on Instagram. That was a jolt of self-awareness. I began to consider just deleting it off my phone, but I countered it was necessary for me to be aware of what was going on via social media and to know what was happening on Living Hope’s social media presence, despite the fact that I have our Marketing Manager, Kristin for that job. My first step was to simply file my social media apps into a folder on my phone, this way Instagram wasn’t as accessible as a simple click on my home page if I first had to swipe and then tap twice. Certainly with these impediments to accessing Instagram my use would decrease. Yes, it was that ridiculous.
Around the same time, a friend texted to say she was deleting Instagram during her observance of Lent and to be sure and text pics of my children to her intermittently so she was up on what we were doing while taking a social media break.
This prompted me to take a breath and just do it; delete Instagram off my phone and see what came of it. I immediately texted her and said “I just deleted mine too. And I feel like I’ve just flushed a kilo of cocaine down the toilet.”
Initially, I felt empowered. I spent precious time nursing my daughter in prayer or mindfulness meditation. I ordered a parenting book to read while pumping. I downloaded a fascinating book about the microbiome to read at night in bed instead of that last hit of Insta before sleep. While in the bathroom, I simply used the bathroom and then washed my hands and left. I did all of those things and they were purposeful, but here’s what was interesting: I felt lonely. Yea, interesting isn’t it?
My day is spent primarily focused on my children. My husband is home in the evenings and on weekends, and we are currently living with my mother-in-law.
I’m not starved for human interaction and I’m certainly not short on loving relationships day to day, but what I am missing is community.
What I am missing oftentimes is contact with the outside world beyond parenting, caretaking, cooking super, and doing laundry. I have regular contact with my Living Hope team but our key team members are in Nashville and San Antonio, so that important time around a table with creatives isn’t there and video conferences don’t have the same energy. Time with friends is few and far between as they are hard to tangibly connect with given family and work commitments.
I will likely get a handful of well meaning emails in response to this post suggesting Bible studies, mother’s groups, La Leche League meetings, or Fit for Mom but when you’re so down in it, it’s hard to get your head above it. The thumbprint schmeared across the phone screen is about the only get-up-and-go I have most days.
But, here is A Case for Hope on this National Day of Unplugging, observed from sun down March 9 to sun down, March 10:
We have the ability to choose to plug back into our innate relational mindset. Instead of perceiving close relationships with individuals we haven’t seen in 20 years, regardless of how much we know about their personal lives from social media, we can plug back into the relationships that are right in front of us. Push beyond our depletion from parenthood and find a place to whip up some meaningful joy with our children. Have a conversation with our spouses and partners that don’t focus on the mundane or stressful and tap back into the original points of connection that drew you together in the first place. Call bullshit on all of the impediments to a lunch, coffee or a simple chat with a friend because if you’re not nurturing meaningful friendships, you’re depriving yourself of those important touch points outside of your daily obligations.
The antidote to restlessness is not mindless escapism. It is awareness of why you’re needing to check out in the first place.
On this day of National Day of Unplugging, I invite you to Begin the Practice and apply the 8 Practices of Living Hope to explore your dependence on all things that keep you from relational living. Surrender your dependence on social media and the like, let go and unplug, and then friend, find yourself practicing Joy when you tap into the tangible Joy all around you.
You are loved!