Goodbye Facebook

I did it.

Finally.

No more facebook for me.

People who are closest to me were probably sick of hearing, “I should just quit it! I should just do it.”

Well, I finally did.

This morning, in Adoration, it became clear to me that the time is now. My heart was nudged in this direction every time I went to Adoration for almost a year. Often I pray best by writing (fancy that), and as I looked through the last year of entries the pattern became clear: Where is my time? Why don’t I have time to pray, to make meals, to clean? To sit with my children? To love my husband?

The problem wasn’t facebook. It was me. I’m an easily distracted person, and having an addiction to feed that part of my personality wasn’t making life any better.

I don’t use the word addiction lightly. There are people very close to me who have suffered greatly as a result of various addictions or the addictions of others. And while I would never try to equate my trials to theirs, it is my addiction none the less.

Here’s how I know:

I opened a new tab to write this blog post, and I had typed “facebook.com” before I stopped myself.

I would surf facebook on our laptop, stand up from the couch to do something (probably important, like feed the children), but first check the open facebook tab on my desktop… unconsciously.

If I was sad: open facebook. Happy? Open facebook. Bored? you guessed it. Angry, tired, excited, felt anything? To facebook I went.

Sounds pathetic doesn’t it? And it is.

Was.

For me, it was escapism at its finest.

Some people eat their emotions, I facebooked mine (OK. I eat my emotions too, but I can only make one giant mental-health leap at a time).

Recently, Lulu tugged on my pant leg every time I stood at my desk (yes, standing-desk geek over here). “Mama help, please.”

“Mmmhmm honey. Just as second. Mama needs to finish reading this article…” or crafting this perfectly worded status update, or watching this hilarious video, or LOLing, or picking the right photo to upload, or…or…

Ultimately, anything I was doing couldn’t have possibly been as important was whatever she needed. Mommy-war articles included. Maybe those were the most damaging of all. Instead of being a Mommy, I was spending time reading about how other women were succeeding (or failing) at being a Mommy themselves.

But heaven forbid I miss someone’s most recent post. Spastically switching back and forth between “top stories” and “most recent” on my news feed usually assured that I was the MOST in the know.

Why don’t you just give it up for a while?

I’ve tried. God only knows (well, and probably Andy too) how hard I’ve tried. Every Lent. Most every Advent. Summer fasts. Days, weeks, even months at a time. I would do well after each fast, keeping my checking to once or twice a day. But then creep would happen, and I’d be checking it three times, then four times, then it’s really just easier to have a tab open. What if someone messages me? I need to respond to them immediately or they won’t think I like them, and I’ll never have any friends again!

Welcome to the crazy train, people.

Well, it was a combination of decision fatigue and dopamine receptors. The more times you have to tell yourself “no” the more likely you are to fail. That’s especially true if you receive pleasure from saying “yes”. The open facebook tab is like a open cookie jar for me.

I think one of the perils of stay at home mommyhood, aside from poop and lack of substantive conversation, is that it’s so easy to be isolated. I went to an amazing weekend gathering and the take home message was: “Moms, you are not alone. Use social media to prove it! Build each other up!”. The internet can be an amazing tool for consolation and camaraderie.

For a long time, especially right after we moved, facebook was my escape from parenting isolation. Until it subtly transformed into an escape from parenting.

I’m a people person. My husband calls it hyper-social. If you’ve done the Living Your Strengths class, “Woo” is my #3. I like to like people, and I like people to like me. The more people the better. I was that kid at camp who never made one best friend, because I was too busy being friends with everyone and trying to make everyone my friend.

That was fine when I was 13. Now I’m, well, more than double that age, and I do have great community. I am not isolated. I do have best friends, chief among them: Andy. Closely followed by my own children.

My Mom told me, when I was in the depths of PPD after Lulu, “Caitlin, some day your kids are going to be really good company.”

And you know what? That day is here.

Monica asks me so many good questions. I was explaining the difference between red blood cells and white blood cells to her just this morning. Conversation quickly transitioned into how to say words in Portuguese and morphed into what people eat in Japan.

Lulu has a fantastic belly laugh, and is the most compassionate two year old I know. Got an owie? She knows right where the ice is kept and how to hold it on your bump just so and how to give you a bear hug that will make you feel better in no time.

Dom, well, he’s getting there. He will be there. If the girls are already great companions, he will be too, sooner than I can imagine.

So, that’s all to say that my family is amazing.

And I am missing it.

Some people, probably most people, are good at keeping an online/offline balance. I am not one of them. I delay going to bed, to sleep with my very own husband, so I can check what other people are doing as they get ready for bed.

Seriously?

Well, now you know.

And if you know, then I can never go back.

After a dear friend of ours passed away due to an addiction, Andy and I promised that if we knew anyone else who was ruining their lives, wasting their lives, on something frivolous or dangerous, we wouldn’t hesitate to tell them. To try and help them.

So, here I am.

Helping myself.

Telling myself, Caitlin. Don’t waste the time. Don’t waste your life. Because they are one in the same. Your time is your life.

I had this quote written on our white board for a long time:

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. -Annie Dillard

I think I need it tattooed on my forehead.

Or, at least, glued to my computer screen.

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14 Responses to Goodbye Facebook

  1. Eleri says:

    Beautiful commentary…. And so true for many, including myself. I’m going to start by parking my iPad and having “off-limits” time. If that doesn’t work, I might say good-bye, too.

  2. Jessie says:

    HOW WILL I KNOW ABOUT YOUR AWESOME KIDS?!?!?! Oh, that’s right. I could visit 😉

  3. Perla Hauge says:

    Good job!!! I just got back on! LOL! But I’m in not installing on my phone, that seems to be the worst trigger for me. Like I’ll pull my phone out to check the time, got to facebook, lock my phone, then realize I never checked what time it was. There is NO way I can be on a computer when Henry is awake. He thinks keyboards are drums or something. So now it’s only during his nap time which is my mommy time out time 🙂

  4. kayla says:

    now i’m going to have to…..*shuddering*…..EMAIL you!!! or text you….or call you….. can’t…..handle…the…..personal-ness….
    I had noticed….when the computer internet was down (which is actually funny b/c it was your contribution alone that made the fix possible!!), and the only way I could access FB was via a 2×3″ screen, I was on it waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay less – I blame my 30-year-old, mommybrained eyes – but it really was was so liberating. I’m in that grace period of still being able to resist checking every 15 minutes and ONLY at naptime, and then again at bedtime. We’ll see how long it lasts before I think about joining your ranks 🙂 I’ll make sure and keep you updated on who announces their pregnancy/engagement/new puppy on FB!!

  5. Sara says:

    Way to go Caitlin! Except for all the times you told me to get a fb, now I do and you take off. But I totally get it, it’s a time suck and a rather anti-social form of socializing. Life is so much more beautiful in person.

  6. I think you are incredibly honest and full of self reflection. I am so proud of you!!!!!

  7. Becca says:

    Thank you. I needed to read this!

  8. Janelle says:

    Thank you for sharing. You have the most wonderful blog. Whenever I read one, I wish I could sit with you and have an hour long conversation about all of the things. I’ll try to be around more with you in the real world, my dear friend.

  9. This hit way to close to home. Stabbed me in the heart. I have a lot to ponder today. Thank you for that.

  10. realcatholicmom says:

    I was *wondering* what happened to you! Duh … check the blog … 😉 Would love to catch up! RealCatholicMom {at} gmail {dot} com. ❤

  11. You spoke way more truth about this than I’ve been able to.

    What you said about the isolation being helped out by social media but then that turning into escapism… 1000% my truth too. Ridiculously so. You know what? Mothering does not come easy to me. I’m so selfish. I still to this day get upset that I can’t just go to the bathroom without someone calling my name or finish just one meal in peace and I’ve been doing this for six years. And then add to that what you said about reading more about other mothers’ failures, successes, tips, joys, (fill-in-the-blank) than actually doing the things—oh boy, yes. So now, off FB for a few months, I’m doing way way more of the thing than thinking or reading about others’ doing the things–and I’m actually happier. I didn’t need to be looking away all the time in order to feel well. I needed to lean in to my kids, my home, my space, my truth, my little journeys and struggles and adventures and goodness.

    Thank you for your honesty. This post is just so good!

    • Cheers to you, from another selfish Mama of 6 years 😉 As someone who really feels the sacrifice of career for family, I love the idea of Leaning-In at home… Amen, amen, amen! Turns out vocation trumps (*winces using that word right now) career for me, and leaning in to that can only make that choice feel more worthwhile.

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