Little Apartment On The Prairie: An Update

Apartment on the Prairie

Apartment on the Prairie

Last week, I shared my radical decision to bid my personal Facebook farewell. I received mixed feedback. Half of you seemed excited and even inspired to exercise your own social media discipline. Half of you were questioning my decision, and possibly even my sanity.

I hope I made it clear in my initial post, but I will reiterate here: this is a decision I made for me personally and I’m not promoting or insisting it as a way of life for anyone other than Val Kleppen. If you feel so inclined to do something similar, I applaud you! If you don’t share in my social media struggle, I also applaud you!

Now that we’ve cleared the air, I’d like to share what I’ve been up to since I’ve stopped scrolling news feeds.

I mended a shirt. A button had come off in the wash weeks and weeks and weeks ago. It sat on top of the dryer, waiting to be reattached to it’s shirt. I haven’t worn the shirt, because there was protruding thread where the button should have been. I couldn’t sew the button back on, though, because… wait. Why? Because people were posting things! I sewed that button on this week, and felt like I could do anything afterward. Just call me Caroline (or “Ma”) because this chick is taking Little Apartment On The Prairie to a whole new level!

I planted flowers. I’ve been meaning to since May. With travel and summer plans, though, I just couldn’t bring myself to get to the store to get flowers to plant. I thought I’d let too much of the season go by and would have to forego it this year, but I prevailed. It turns out when you wait until the first of July to buy flowers, they’re on sale.

My favorite pot I purchased last year was worthless, though, which was disheartening. Thankfully we had one pot on hand that is working quite well. My Little Apartment On The Prairie patio garden brings me immense joy each morning as I look out our sliding glass door. I only wish I had thought sooner to buy a window-box type flowerbed, so I could grow strawberries in it on the patio. My thumb will be green before this is all over.

I’m a new mother. Truly, I am. And wife, for that matter. I’ve been more present this week than I can recall being in quite a while. I don’t want to admit that, because I don’t want you to know the depths of my suckiness as a human being, but it’s out there now. In my Facebook days (a few weeks ago), I was telling my hungry children to wait for a snack so I could catch up on the things people were posting and sharing. Now, I feed my kids. When they’re hungry. It’s the most revolutionary parenting move I’ve ever made. We play more, we laugh harder, and we get more done together. It’s been pretty stellar.

And my husband, well, I talk his ear off in the evenings. He might be wishing I was staring at my phone instead, but so far, we’ve had incredibly meaningful (and entertaining) conversations. I’ve been able to steal a few more kisses from him, too. I also think he might be on board to pack up and move to Tennessee. Because… life goals. But for now, we’re still very much living in our Little Apartment On The Prairie, and really enjoying our time spent in actual communication with one another.

I’ve been so productive I can’t even believe it. Dust? What dust? Dishes? All clean. Laundry? I folded it and put it away already. Need a meal cooked? Well… it’s summer time, and it’s too hot to turn the stove on. Kidding! I’ve been cooking, too! If our apartment lawn were wheat, I’d probably be grinding my own flour. Need something done? I can’t help you, because I’m so busy doing everything I ever neglected doing before! I make our bed every morning WITH ALL THE DECORATIVE PILLOWS! Caroline would be so proud…

Also – my phone battery lasts a lot longer, now.

So there you have it. A week in, and I can see how much I needed to break away. Is it for everyone? No. It certainly is for me, for this season right now, though. I’ve been in touch with several of you, and kind of wishing I had collected email addresses before I wiped my slate clean – but I know I very much still have the presence and prayers of my friends, and this week has felt so good. So good.

I’ve gotta run, though… the linens need pressed. (Just kidding, I’m not that awesome. Yet.)

Little Apartment On The Prairie

disconnect

disconnect

Each night at kiddo bedtime, hubs has been reading chapters from The Little House series, written by Laura Ingalls. It fills me with nostalgia from reading those books when I was a child, but more than that, I’m struck by how incredible their lives were. They kept things simple as a sake of survival, but “simple” for them seems like so much work to me. Yet today, a lot of what we have to make our lives “simpler” seems to be making it more difficult to function as a compassionate being.

I’ve been struggling for months with the maze of social media. I’m required to be in it for work, but tend to easily get trapped in a time suck and before I know it, I’ve spent hours scrolling through funny memes, frivolous news stories, and conversations among complete strangers. I can’t seem to pull away from it.

It wasn’t all that long ago, I fessed up about my struggle with being stuck in technology when I wrote about needing a time out. It turns out a technological time out isn’t easy to come by.

It’s a fantastic and frightening world, social media. Linking us to our past, connecting us to a future we hope to have, and friending our current acquaintances in the meantime. Once upon a time, I used to call someone or send them an email to see what they were up to, or how they were doing. Now, I just browse their profile. I don’t interact at all. I simply observe. And I call myself their friend. If they need me, I’ll be there to click “like” or maybe even “love” if it’s really special. If I remember to click something, that is.

Is this troubling to anyone else?

I remember a time we heard from friends once a year, and knew they were just as much my friends as they always had been. I was updated on their lives, complete with pictures, and even got a warm fuzzy feeling opening that annual correspondence: The Christmas Letter. Social media has replaced the need for the Christmas letter. Instead of decorating my door with Christmas mail, I’m checking my computer for likes and comments.

My phone rings or buzzes and I cringe. “Who’s that?” “What do they want?” When the postman buzzes our door, I’m completely bewildered. Someone sent something too big for our mailbox? Oh no, wait, we ordered something. Without talking to a single person. I just clicked it to ship it.

I’m not just in need of a techno time out. I need a complete humanitarian reset.

Recently, our family attended my husband’s class reunion, where I was surprised by how many of his classmates were not on Facebook. Not on Facebook! What kind of mysterious lives do these people live?!

I also noticed how genuinely relational they were, how connected they were, and how no one was spending their time taking selfies or interrupting their talking to tweet something clever. They were having face-to-face conversations with one another, giving undivided attention. I marveled as I witnessed it.

I’m almost ashamed to admit it for it seems so shallow, but I was completely inspired by this.

Brent’s classmates themselves were fantastic, and I enjoyed visiting with them so much. Some of them I remembered from his reunion ten years prior, others I met for the first time. It was so much fun to see Brent in his hometown with his friends, picking right up where they left off. I visited right along with him and laughed so hard my cheeks hurt. And I didn’t take my phone out but one time.

Spending hours with these folks when not a single person was taking their phone out to post or catch up on other posts was a motivational boost for me.

Could I do the same?

Remember the book #Struggles I read? (And highly recommend, by the way). It talks about this phenomenon of living in a selfie-centered world. And that, in combination with the realization I was spending too much time on too many devices, convinced me I needed to break free.

I need to be unplugged. I need to disconnect from this world I’ve become so engrossed in so I can truly connect in the world I was created to live in.

So…at least for now, we’ll be The Little Apartment On The Prairie. I won’t let social media be my master. I’m going to have a routine of doing what housework on which days. I’m going to cook all our meals, bake our own bread, and smoke meat for the winter. (Okay, maybe not smoke meat….that might get us kicked out.) We’re going to focus on each other and fostering relationships. We’re going to master the art of face-to-face communication. No more sitting on my sofa asking my husband if he saw the funny picture so-and-so posted.

I’m going back to simpler times. Basic communication. I’m going to stop letting FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) dictate my time and energy. It’s that same fear that has actually caused me to miss out on what’s right in front of me!

So, friends, I may not remember your birthday when I don’t get an email from Facebook telling me it’s your special day. But I’d love to get together with you in person and laugh so hard our cheeks hurt. We don’t even have to take a picture to prove we did it. We can just let the memory of the moment nestle itself away in folds of our hearts. And if we live far apart, I hope I get that Christmas letter this year. Email me your mailing address so I can be sure to fill your mailbox up as well. That’s right, USPS, I’m coming to buy stamps!

In the meantime, come and check in with me in our Little Apartment On The Prairie as I blog about what we’re up to. This little corner of the internet is my coffee table, with one chair always available to you.