A “Hard” Book For Me Please (A Mama Kat Writing Workshop Prompt)

First of all, a hearty “welcome back” to Kat, who has been on a well-deserved blog break. During her break, I used prompts from the #Reverb10 project to do a bit of processing about the year 2010 and set the stage for 2011.  When Kat’s prompts arrived in my in-box yesterday, I did my usual routine – use random.org‘s random number generator to “assign” myself one of the five prompts. Then, after seeing the first prompt I was assigned:

What happened in 2010 that you’d rather not repeat?
I thought, “I’ve already done enough of that through #Reverb10,” and tried to manipulate a little order into the randomness by running the random number generator again. I ended up with:
Read and Respond: “If you want to make your dreams come true, the first thing you have to do is wake up.” ~J.M. Power
For a while, I thought I would go with the “dreams come true” quote (it’s a pretty cool and true quote, don’t you think?), but I kept thinking “surely there is something about 2010 that I don’t want to repeat).  Quite a few things come to mind:
  • My mother-in-law’s breast cancer diagnosis
  • My husband’s job loss
  • Sitting in a judge’s chamber as a defendant
  • A protracted “cyber bullying” situation that my daughter was embroiled in
  • My 11 year old’s apparent aversion to sleeping in his own bed …. still
  • The deaths of people my age, especially Jarrod Heierman and Missy Reeves

To reflect on a less dramatic moment, but one that spoke volumes about the choices I make every moment, I turn to a comment my daughter made early in the school year. Apparently now it is a “bonus” to actually get a textbook that is made out of paper (as opposed to a cd or an online version); in Tenley’s math class, students have to request a “paper” book in order to receive one from the limited supply. She said, “Yeah, I told my teacher that you do a lot of freelance work on the computer which is why I couldn’t get on to access my textbook. I didn’t want to say, ‘My mom’s on Facebook all the time.”

Dan Perez touches on some of the same feelings I have about the intersection of family commitment (the kind where you actually touch each other and look each other in the eyes) and social media in his blog The Klout Myth and Living Above the Influence. He talks about how his wife and daughter each suggested that one of his three New Year’s Resolutions be “stop spending so much time on the computer,” which he translated to “start spending more time with us.”
Between the time I drafted this blog Wednesday morning and now, when I am completing it, I read Alexandra Samuels’s Harvard Business Review Blog article Social Media in 2011: Six Choices You Need to Make. It was the perfect article to read on a day when I was contemplating the content for this blog. Should I completely ditch social media to make amends with my child who is usually behind something herself: her bedroom door, her earbuds, her teenaged independence? In the section of her article headed “Who Am I Choosing to be Online?” Samuels says this:
“since the persona you create for yourself online inevitably bleeds over to your life offline, creating the best version of yourself online will invariably help you become the person you want to be, online and off”

I like social media for many reasons, including the fact that I like to write and heck, put together all the statuses, comments and tweets I have pecked out through 2010 and there would probably be enough for a small book (not a good book but a book-sized book!).
I don’t know exactly what I would change about the mix of family time and social media in 2011. Maybe Tenley’s comment was a lot more fleeting than I interpreted it to be. But it has stayed with me since she first said it in August. I suppose what I hope for 2011 is that she won’t be compelled to say I get on Facebook too much, even if she is saying it in jest. I hope this:

Mama's Losin' It

4 thoughts on “A “Hard” Book For Me Please (A Mama Kat Writing Workshop Prompt)

  1. A very interesting post. I had to set boundaries and a schedule for myself this year. I want to develop as a writer, but I never want to neglect those for whom I'm staying home in the first place! Visiting from Mama Kat's!

  2. Social Media and technology can consume a person for sure. Yesterday and today I spent entirely too much time on the computer. About 1 1/2 years ago I got rid of my BlackBerry because it seemed to control my life and it was always on and beeping at me. I then went to and Ipod touch so I only had wifi and not the continuous streaming. Last summer I quit using the Ipod touch and now I am back to the computer. My kids are already calling my a computer nerd but I am trying to keep a better balance between paying attention to my wife and children and social media. It is truly something that I have to make a conscious effort to do because time can quickly slip away when you stare at the screen.

  3. Paula, thanks so much for sharing your reflections and this story about your recent family conversation. Like you I really struggle with the place of tech in our family life, so I'll be curious to hear how this unfolds in your home. Best of luck with it (and everything else!) this year.

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