Initially I had planned to write a blog post about how to make the perfect Manhattan, but life took a detour on my way to the liquor store. A virus decided to set up camp in my daughter’s little body and stage a sit-in. This is no ordinary bug; it has run the gamut of symptoms: congestion, fever, headaches, stomach aches, reduced appetite, fatigue, and vomiting… symptoms which have been wreaking havoc with my 8-year-old for 9 days and counting. With a little one so sick and my husband’s work involving late hours and a trip out of the country, I was effectively the only caregiver and on call 24 hours a day – wait that sounds like a doctor… As much as spending 8 days stuck in your house playing Dr. Mom under such circumstances can result in cabin fever and perhaps tempt one to drink, I had to abandon the Manhattan post. Call me crazy, but I figured that dragging my very ill child out to get the necessary supplies at the LCBO, and then drinking cocktails, would not be a good idea and would most definitely disqualify me for Parent of The Year Award.
So what can you do when you are designated to spend days on the sofa with a sick child, who is so in need of comfort, sleeping on top of you, clinging to you? Not Much. TV is an option but really there isn’t much on, and reading a book is out of the question as you only have one arm free to hold it and turn the pages. Add to this that you are effectively alone, no one to spell you off, no one to talk to; it is isolating.
Enter here one smart phone and social media.
I started on Facebook in 2007, I didn’t do much with it for a while… then Twitter came along. I said that I would never go on Twitter…in September 2010, I reluctantly joined after a convincing chat with one of my sisters. I’ve been on LinkedIn for years and was an early adopter of Google+. With each of these social media sites it was a slow start and I must admit I still don’t interact much with some of these platforms; it can be a lot of work and a time bandit. There are only so many hours in a day. I have to admit the only social media platform I quickly embraced was Pinterest. Being a designer, I instantly saw the attraction and usefulness of Pinterest and jumped at the chance to join while it was still in BETA and began pinning immediately.
Although I am on many social media sites I must admit that the ones I frequent the most are Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter. I regularly interact on these 3 platforms; re-pinning inspiration, liking posts, sharing links, commenting, having conversations and occasionally making personal statements. I “get” social media and enjoy it, but I must admit that it surprises me what people shared on social media, especially Twitter as it is open to the public.
I feel it is accurate to say that when most people meet me they find me to be a warm, friendly and open person. That being said, I do have a private side. I’m not big on airing my dirty laundry in public. I know that many do just that; they get a sense of support from their online relationships and that is ok. It’s just not my style. In addition, I will rarely report where I am when I am out, or that I am on vacation – I guess I would not be a good candidate for Foursquare.
All of this, I do for a few reasons:
- I don’t really want people to know all my business.
- I figure that most people don’t really care what I am up to every minute of the day.
- If some do care, there are those who, for security reasons, probably should not know my business.
So what has this all got to do with my daughter’s illness? A lot…
Over the past few days Social media took on a new form for me. It became my link to the outside world. It was a source of news, entertainment and support. Yes, I said support. Lying on the sofa under the deadweight of a sleeping 8-year-old, I was able to follow conversations, and communicate with others on my iPhone. I reconnected with an old friend, caught up on news of friends with whom I had lost touch. I connected with some new people as well. Most importantly I found support. I learned that I was not alone in fighting this virus as many children in my neighbourhood and at my daughter’s school have fallen victim to this bug – although it seems to have hit my daughter particularly hard she has been suffering almost 3 times longer than others – I also received many words of encouragement and messages from a few dear friends offering to do runs to the pharmacy or grocery store etc. if needed.
At one point my internet connection went down, and if not for my cellphone’s network I would have been, for all intents and purposes, cut off from my support. It was at this moment I realized that my attitude towards social media had changed a bit and I embraced it with a new appreciation.
Will I now be sharing more personal details on social media? No, but I have a new understanding why so many do. Will I be spending more time on social media? Not likely, if anything I might not have as much time with the backlog of work and chores I have to face. So what is next? I am grateful for social media and the role it has played in my life these past 9 days. I am thankful for friends who connected with me through social media and offered support. Most importantly, I am praying to the gods that this virus gives up its occupation of my daughter’s now very weak body and that life can return to normal. Maybe then, just maybe, I will be able to leave my house and go accept that Parenting Award I am sure to receive…but don’t look for me to report the event details on social media. 😉
Photos by Lyndsay Jenkinson