The night before Jack turned 7, Trevor and I sat in a dimly lit living room, the remnants of Jack's birthday party strewn about the room- handmade cards from his friends, noisemakers, Lego boxes. The house was quiet and was very conducive to reflection.
"We have completed a cycle of 7 you know," I said to Trevor. "I'm a big believer in cycles and I have been feeling for awhile now that we're approaching an end to one."
We began to discuss the differences between the 1st cycle and the 2nd.
"I think that first cycle of 7 is physically exhausting. You're physically exhausted every day from the care and feeding of your children. I think the next cycle is going to be more mentally exhausting," said Trevor, pulling the Spider-man blanket up around his lap.
And it was through this discussion that a lot of things began to make sense and click for me. The 1st cycle of 7 is physically exhausting. It is the cycle in which you most likely have the most minuscule social life, your conversations are almost exclusively about your children, and as a million synapses snap into place as you learn the new motions and new steps of being a parent to newborns, babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, you barely have anything left over for your spouse, your friends, yes, sometimes your children, and most definitely yourself. So it stands to reason that you drop out of sight for a bit. You relish when plans get canceled, you reply "maybe" to every single event you're included in because your life is one big exhausting question mark. Retreating into your phone and seeing photos of your friends and feeling connected even when it's so hard to be connected was in many ways a life raft for me. I could have people see into my life and I could see into theirs and it was nice... was. nice.
Something clicks at 7. You realize you're getting better at this. Your kids are likely more self sufficient and even if you have young ones like we do, you aren't as stressed out over the little things anymore. Those million synapses have clicked in place and you deftly and coolly go through the motions with a muscle memory that is instinctual. Alas, it's not all smooth sailing though because now the mental exhaustion sets in. Having to now negotiate with your older children. Building in good habits for them, teaching them instead of doing for them. These are emotionally draining tasks. The heavy lifting is all being done internally and not externally and that is when you realize that your social circle, the one you couldn't nurture and grow in that 1st cycle of 7 is precisely what you need now.
And that, my friends, is the exact place I find myself on January 30, 2017. 23 days into my 2nd cycle of 7 and I'm realizing that it's time to reach out, which seems like a funny thing to have to do in an age of social media where the possibility of "connection" seems endless.
But it doesn't. I have realized that it's an absolutely false sense of connection that has fueled more loneliness, more disconnection among us than ever before. I would dare say that you could be happier doing almost anything than scrolling through Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Like, seriously, almost anything. So it's time for a break. I'll be honest, I'm not deleting Facebook. It is an incredible time capsule of my life for the past 10 years. It's a treasure trove of photos and messages that makes it hard to get rid of. But in order to limit the amount of time it consumes in my day and to limit the amount of time it robs from my children and husband it's time to reconfigure it.
My Facebook circle needs to be pared down, a ton. It's not because I don't like the people I've connected with here, it's not because I don't care about them, but it's because in this 2nd cycle of 7, real human connection is what's going to get me through, not pretending I'm connected because I "like" your meme. A friend recently commented that she misses me before adding that it's totally unnecessary since we live in the same town. That got me thinking.
So, this is kind of a Dear John letter to both Facebook and the 1st cycle of 7 where Facebook helped bolster me. It now feels like a weight, something to be managed or tended to, and as I've realized, the real things in my life I need to tend to are outside of the internet.
It's a first step toward being intentional about the 2nd cycle. It's time to re-organize my time.