Our oldest daughter, Roxanne, was small at birth. I had pre-eclampsia and was induced at 37 weeks 5 days. Even though the pregnancy was full-term she was only 4 lbs 9 ounces – what they call small for gestational age or small for dates. I remember the first thing the doctor said when she was born. “Oh, just a little peanut!”
She was thankfully a healthy peanut and from the get go voraciously hungry. See that yellow chair? I logged many hours nursing on that chair. I felt so lucky to be able to do it – to not have to be anywhere, to not feel pressured to leave her with someone else. But at times it also felt so constraining. I could never leave her. If you’ve been in a similar situation maybe you can relate to the complexity of those feelings?
When I first left my job as teacher my only plan was to be a mother. That was it. But nine months in I was so restless. I felt trapped. I didn’t want to go back to work, but I couldn’t just stay home and take care of her. I didn’t know what the answer was.
Then I read about blogs in the New York Times and thought maybe there were crafters who were blogging.
By the time that photo above was taken I’d discovered LiveJournal and a craft blog called LoobyLu written by a mom in Australia who liked to sew dolls. I’d opened a Flickr account to post pictures of what I was making during nap time and I’d begun participating in the burgeoning discussion of crafting online. I started sitting at the computer with Roxanne on a my lap to nurse her there so that I could read and type, if only one-handed (have you done this?). Being connected to this new world made things better for me. Being online made motherhood better.
I remember discovering Amanda Soule’s beautiful blog and through her I learned to appreciate family life in a new way. She taught me to notice quiet moments, to set up a creative household, to keep things simple. From other bloggers I learned about Japanese craft books and ordered them by ISBN number from Amazon Japan. A blog friend of mine from Arizona came to Boston to visit family and we met up and swapped fabric.
From the start my blog, While She Naps, has given me something to focus on, something to build, a way in to a new community. When I was ready a few years later, being online gave me a job I could do from home on own time. It’s a job I love dearly and could never have expected.
In 2006 we had another baby, but because I was already online I had direction. By the time this picture was taken I had a book deal. I was sewing and writing while Stella napped and Roxanne was at preschool and at night once they’d both gone to bed. I had new friends all over the world and I’d met several more in person. I had new sewing skills and new tech skills and I was full of ideas. All of this was fed from being online.
In 2010 we had another baby. And I got a smartphone.
Josephine was my biggest baby at 8 lbs. 5 ounces and the calmest. Still, nursing is time consuming. Having an iPhone meant I could read blogs and tweet and respond to emails while sitting in the rocking chair. It was the best!
This didn’t mean I missed marveling at the beauty of my baby while nursing. I did that in spades. She’s my third and last one and I savored every day of her babyhood. And I spent time on the Internet via my smartphone and savored that, too.
There’s so much social pressure now to unplug. The smartphone is painted as an evil distraction, especially for mothers. We are told to put it away, to unplug, to be present in the moment. I understand this sentiment completely and I agree. You should give you children your full attention and be present for them. And I am. But motherhood comes with a lot of in between moments – waiting in carline, sitting by the side of the bathtub, just being home while children are happily playing on their own. It is for these moments that I am so thankful to be plugged in.
Being unplugged would mean getting much less work done and work is tremendously satisfying and important to me. It would mean being isolated from a creative community I value deeply. It would mean feeling less happy, not more. There are so many things to feel guilty about as a mother. Enjoying being online doesn’t need to be one of them.