Technology and stay-at-home motherhood are subjects near and dear to my heart. As a work-at-home, write-at-home mom, I spend a lot of time online. Blogging, Twitter, e-mail, Firefox… the internet is a huge part of my life.
My own mother was a stay-at-home mom for the first few years of my life. Back then, we lived in a tiny, rural area of Georgia, miles away from any town. Fort Benning, the Army post where my dad was stationed, was about an hour’s drive away. We had neighbors, but nobody Mom (the city girl from Philly) felt close too. And my dad? Between his assignment at Fort Benning and the master’s degree he was pursuing, he was pretty much gone most of the time. So for two years, it was just Mom and me out in the middle of nowhere.
When I was three, Mom went back to work. She had to. Not for financial reasons but because she was going stir crazy. It’s a feeling I understand all too well. When your only companion for weeks on end is a three-year-old who endlessly babbles, throws tantrums, and gets into stuff she shouldn’t, you start to feel the walls closing in. My mom had an epiphany the day she ran me to ground, grabbed me by the pony tail, and prepared to nearly smack me into the next decade. She stopped, just in time, and realized that if she continued to stay home with me, it wouldn’t be good for either one of us. She had to get out of the house; she had to have adult contact. She had to get a job.
Flash forward thirty-seven years. Now I am the stay-at-home mom, living in a suburb where I rarely ever see the other moms in the neighborhood. Either they work, or their kids are much older than mine and so they’ve got different schedules, or there’s a gap between our personalities that’s too wide for me to want to bridge (freaky goth mom here, remember?). Michael frequently works late or is away on business, and my constant companion is…
A babbling, tantrum-throwing, getting-into-stuff-she-shouldn’t two-year-old.
I love Pixie, but honest to god, some days she just drives me crazy. Like my mother, when things get too nuts and I’m ready to blow my top at my adorable girl, I realize I need adult contact. Unlike my mother, I have more options. I have Skype, Twitter, e-mail. I can work from home, sending artwork and writing to clients via e-mail. I can give myself a purpose outside of motherhood all from the comfort of my own desktop. I am so plugged in, in fact, that I have not one but three computers in the house, all dedicated to me and they’re all plugged into the net. Whether I’m in the bedroom, the office, or the kitchen, a sane (or even just semi-sane) adult is only a mouse click away. It’s all I need to keep myself together.
These days, my mom lives out in rural Arkansas, miles away from the nearest town. Still the city girl, still the outsider, she doesn’t have any close friends within easy distance. She does have a computer and e-mail, but living in such a rural area limits how much connectivity she has via that medium. She can’t even get cell phone reception without getting into her car and driving to the top of the mountain my folks live on. Thus at the age of seventy, she’s still working at a grueling job because if she doesn’t she knows she’d go nuts.
I wonder myself how I’d fare out in those circumstances. Could I survive long-term without Firefox, Skype, Twitter, or e-mail? Would I eventually run my darling Pixie to ground, ready to murder her because I was too stir crazy to stop myself?
I hope I never have to find out.