I've been thinking a lot lately about stress. More specifically, about my stress. September is a tough month, all the back-to-school stuff, getting back into old routines, starting new routines, feeling tired...
After my third call in the car this afternoon, as I rushed to pick-up my 1st small from school, and then hurried to pick up my 2nd at another school, it dawned on me: progress has pretty much screwed up our lives.
Now, don't get me wrong, there are luxuries of the past century which I fully embrace; namely, air-conditioning. I'd tolerate an outhouse easier than I could live without air-con, but that's just me. My aversion to being hot is one of my Husband's greatest pet peeves. Shoot me.
Anyway, as I was winding my way through traffic (which I've concluded is created by bad drivers), I started thinking about how my life, and in turn the life of my smalls, is really a giant stress-ball created by cell-phones, answering machines, chain super markets, and pedophiles.
Now before you write me off, let me convince you...
The cell phone, answering machine thing is a no-brainer. All of us are available 24/7. The car ride is no longer a peaceful journey, it's an opportunity for someone to ring you or for you to ring them. Who can pass up the chance to cross off phone calls from their "to do"list? And friends? Forget about it. If I can't call you from the road, in between schlepping smalls, then we ain't talking. My life as a glorified taxi driver necessitates chatting while in the car. Period.
Chain super markets. All of them suck. They have the most time consuming and irritating parking lots ever! There is no such thing anymore as a quick run to the store. There's no neighborhood butcher, baker, market. Nothing. If I need 30 items or 1 item, it doesn't matter; I still have to brave the parking lot, the check-out lines, and to add insult to injury, the CONSTANT moving of merchandise so that products never stay in the same place more than a week. Infuriating!
Then there is the pedophile. Or, more truthfully, the fear of such a person. The "progress" of the internet and the media has made sure we all hear the awful stories of abductions and worse, so that, now, parents are either too scared to leave their kids alone or too scared that Child Protective Services will pay them a visit if they do. Insanity.
Perhaps I'm romanticizing the past. There were lots of downsides. Polio, for example. Definitely not good. So, the "progress" of a vaccine for that awful disease is a win. I get it. And car seats, a wonderful safety bonus, even if putting the damn thing in is like wrestling a tiger.
But, it's the moments of silence that we're all missing. No beeping microwave, no beeping dish washer, no buzz of the dryer. Way back when, if you were out doing errands and someone wanted to get a hold of you, they called your house. If you weren't home, they tried again later. No message, no ringing in the car, or store, or street. Kids played outside, unsupervised, with no parental guilt or fear. The neighborhood market was just down the street, you really could pop in and get a quart of milk; no one would call you on the way there, and there wouldn't be a message reminding you of the call you missed when you got home. Weekends must have felt more weekend-y. Down time must have felt slower and more restful. Kids must have been less scheduled because they played stickball or kick-the- can everyday after school with the other neighborhood children. Pedophiles existed, but no one worried about them because they didn't hear about it all the time.
Call me a dinosaur. But as I deliver children to and fro, from one school to another, to soccer practice and Gymnastics class, rushing home for piano lessons, making phone calls on the way, taking care of business in between errands, I can't help but wax nostalgic. And even though I have the power to turn off my cell phone, I, apparently, bow to peer pressure and neurosis. Maybe it's the nagging feeling that I'm missing something or that someone is trying to get me. What if a small gets sick at school?
I fear I'm a lemming.
Damn, what I wouldn't give somedays for the return of the "busy signal".