Technology's Impact on Families: Depends Who You Ask!

iPhone 4 Bumper + Universal Dock w/ DIY Adapter

According to my mother (my teenagers’ grandmother) you would think that society and civilization are quickly burning up with raging orange and red flames of fire because of two second text messages. That said, it is a new generation and technology obviously has changed interaction within families and in the general public.

In my generation we spent all our free time on the phone. I remember walking back and forth from the kitchen to the living room with the long, dirty, coiled, yellow stretchy phone cord to talk to my friends from school who I had just seen hours before. This was way before call-waiting too.

Then there was e-mail and even us parents could pretty much keep up with that as well as the older generation. But now? My children text obsessively on their multi-faceted phones and we have to force them to turn them off while we are eating (which sometimes they do and sometimes they pretend to do.) On a weekend away with the entire family our mother could not believe that the first thing her four grandchildren did was check their phones and Facebook. She was disgusted and distraught and my sister and I (and husbands) were used to it. Our mother took it as a personal affront.

Things change, people change, as parents we get used to things; we have no choice but it is helpful to set limits. The older generation think we have all lost our collective parental minds. In defense of my children they can keep up a great conversation at any time, they do well in school and we have adjusted. That’s what parenting is all about, you need to change with your children and with the times and set some boundaries. Is it easy? Not always. Will it make your children unable to have a reasonable conversation over a family dinner? No. Honestly, if I could figure out how to use one of those fancy phones I would own one myself. I have a simple, made for dummies phone and if I am lucky, I can actually call someone or pick up and scream “hello?” and hear a response. I consider that, for me, a success.

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Talking Versus Texting: My Preference

Cheers to you from Starbucks - Coffee shops 20...

Image by Earl - What I Saw 2.0 via Flickr

“Just an old-time girl….”

 

I’m old-fashioned; I like to talk to people in person. GASP! I know that is such a novel concept. My teenagers do not talk on the phone, they text on their own phones with dexterity and speed that only experienced surgeons have. I need to see someone’s expression, the look in their eyes, their body language to accurately assess something. Even writing online is perplexing since you miss the nuances, the emotions, the intonation.
Give me an a cup of Starbucks coffee and a friend across the table and that is how I communicate best. I need to feel, first hand, what my instinct is telling me. I need to listen but to listen effectively, I also need to see from my heart.

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My Dream Job

Society Junk Food Platter

Image by GLOWBAL COLLECTION via Flickr

RESERVATIONS FOR 6 AT 6:30 PM, Please.

Antipasto Platter – Yarra Glen Cafe and Store aka Cheesefreaks

I pick up the phone and call four or five of my closest friends. “Are you free Thursday night?” I ask. “Great” I say, “see you there.” I mentally choose my outfit and plan on wearing a scarf that hides some of my face. No, I am not a private investigator; I don’t work for the secret service. What I do, is eat. I am a restaurant critic (only for those foods that we, the common people eat). There is no escargot, snake meat, or goat in my meals. I’m the voice of the people, the regular people, not the elite. I go to restaurants with my husband, with friends, with nice people who I meet and we eat. We eat, we talk, I take bites from every dish and secretly write down notes. Sometimes, I just specialize in dessert. Once home, I type up my notes, drink chilled CVS diet black cherry club soda and head to bed. My stomach is full and I am extraordinarily happy. Goodnight.

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Mother and Daughter Wars

Last night I had another angry dream about my mother. We were  in Israel and supposed to be coming home. I remember my kids were with us as well. I was both daughter to my mother and mother to my children.  My mother decided she wasn’t coming home, she was abandoning us (me) and staying in Israel to be with her boyfriend. I believe she said something like “I never wanted this to begin with.” I begged her to come home with us, I sobbed,  I pleaded. She stood her ground and wouldn’t budge. I remember her crying in the dream as she walked in the opposite direction, but ultimately, she stood her ground and stayed. She had planned trips with her boyfriend. Until the very end of my dream and continuing as I gradually woke up, I was in a state of total disbelief. I’ve had this dream about 3 or 4 times a week for about two months.

My relationship with my mother now is definitely uneven, up and down, intense and cool. My mother and my sister are very similar people but I was always closer to my dad. He understood me, he made things better, he was more diplomatic; he was my warm and loving parent. He died 8 years ago. I feel that whatever I do for my mother is not good enough. Even though I TRY much harder to please her (visits, dinners, lunches, grandchildren…) than my sister,  it never feels like it’s good  enough.  My mother and I  are so different that it gets in the way. It gets in the way that with every thoughtless comment and(self-perceived)  dig she makes. When I am this angry it makes me  want to see her less. She drains me, she hurts me, the one time she came to see me when I was on bed rest with my leg, she arrived demanding a sandwich from my husband.  There was no pot of chicken soup in her hands or even a few bagels, not even a cookie. She came, demanded a sandwich and then, complaining about the stairs, went upstairs and said hello to me, after she was fed. In her defense, she is a diabetic, in my defense, I just wanted to see her first.

Several days ago I returned home from a very important Dr. visit in the city with my Guru Dr, as I refer to him. He was so pleased with my progress that I was beaming. He said the first time he saw me I definitely “grabbed his attention because I was so sick.” Then, the first visit after, I had improved a little bit. This visit he exclaimed “You Look Great.”  I felt better, I looked better, I had lost ten pounds and I was absolutely thrilled.  As a daughter, the first thing you want to do is call your mom and tell her  the good news and so I did. She listened and then said”Now I’m going to ask you a question that you won’t like”  to which I replied “do you have to” and she said “yes I do, I have to.” Sigh. Groan. She asked the following: What did the Dr. say about your weight gain? ‘Huh? What? I just told you he was thrilled with me?!  She then replied “but what did he say about your weight gain?”Telling her, again,, that I had indeed lost  ten pounds did not mollify her. She wanted to know about the total weight gain… I gave up.  I was hurt, I was disgusted. And, of course she pulled the weight button, goes off like an alarm every time.

A common theme in our relationship has always been about my being overweight, chubby, FAT. I was very thin as a child and she used to carry Nestle’s Quik all around the world trying to fatten me up. Boy, has that changed.  Ever since I was about 10 and  she left the NY Times Magazine on the kitchen table open to “Overweight Camps For Girls”it has been a big problem (try and forget THAT!)  Of course, when I starved myself to 121 pounds (that lasted about 5 minutes) she was nagging me to gain weight. Is there anyone who wouldn’t need Psychotherapy after this?  Not that it helped….

I summoned the courage to have the “talk” with her. It was heated, we both feel we can do no good for the other person. But then we listened…I told her how I felt, she told me how she felt. It wasn’t that different after all. She needed attention and she really needed advice. She did not know, honestly did not know, what mothering meant. She had grown up without a real mother, just a twisted, nasty, dishonest stepmother.

I told her what I needed, she told me she understood. She also told me that she doesn’t say personal things to make me feel bad, she just means it as a fact. Yes, I do take things way too personally. We agreed.

Today, she came over with bagels and cream cheese for lunch. She said hello to the dog,and told her outloud “I want to see Laurie”  and walked upstairs. The first thing she did was say hello to me, her brown eyes twinkling. I love this woman who looked so cute and fashionable in her little blue outfit. I will always love her;she is a part of me that will be with me always. I want to make her happy, I want her to know how much I love her and I do.  I just can’t promise to always agree with her. But that’s ok, as long as we keep on talking it through and leaving our hearts all the way open.