Sunday, May 8, 2016

A touch of mom-time, thanks to modern tech.

Me and my Mama, before e-mail was even a thing.
Around the time that I lost my mother to the evil that is cancer, about 2 and a half years ago, I stopped being able to function on a simple level. It was like motor skills...I'd lost my fine motor but could still haul myself through the gross movements...anyway, I kept myself and my family going but some of the finer points of being functional were all but absent. 

Like dealing with email. 

I used to have a pristine inbox that was never overrun. If I had 45 unread messages I felt so far behind it wasn't even funny; and I paid each bill the moment it hit my screen, replied to each message as soon as I was able... I remember seeing a friend's inbox screen once and she had over 300 unread messages and my heart sank for seemed like an impossibility to function with that many unread, unaddressed conversations in there. 

But after we said goodbye to my mother, I just...couldn't. Mortified, I watched as my inbox filled up with the messages I was usually able to filter and delete or address with relative ease in no time. They began to pile up. Pretty soon the number was in the hundreds, and I thought, I can deal with this once I'm through this fog, it is ok. 

The number rose. I still tried to grab the relevant ones where I could and not loose anything important in the hubub, but even that is a skill that took time to figure out. Meanwhile, the number kept rising.

Once my inbox had over 1,000 unread messages, I admitted that it was a part of grief. 

Once the fifth digit entered the picture, I reconfigured my inbox in order to cope with the influx. This had the dual purpose of making it easier to find those important messages in the mess as well as hiding so many of the unaddressed messages in side categories; "promotions", "social", "forums"...and the number suddenly only reflected the number in that particular category and gave me a false sense of "it's not thaaat bad..." even though each category was in the thousands, at least. 

I decided that my mother's day gift to myself this year was going to be reclaiming control of my inbox. A seemingly silly little thing that has massive psychological implications for me personally...I was going to reclaim control over this small part of my life that is such a big, important tool in my daily operations. 

Occasionally, I'd stop and think; I have to get this under control!! but I could never work fast enough to get ahead. I even considered abandoning the account and starting fresh; but that was never a smart idea and even in the midst of my overwhelm I knew it. 

The numbers just kept rising. And I just kept mitigating the disaster. Rise and deal. Rise, and deal. 

Yesterday, though, for whatever reason, I started to clean it out. The total number of unaddressed messages had risen into the six figure range by this point...yes, we are in fact talking about hundreds of thousands of unaddressed messages dating back two and a half was horrifying. (...and made me mentally apologize to my friend for having silently judged her mere hundreds...) 

This time, however, I discovered that Google had added a bulk selection option...a new feature that I hadn't encountered before...and for whatever reason, it gave me the shove I needed to be able to dig myself out from all of that. All the store promotions, all the facebook notifications, all the homeschooling listserve messages I never quite got too...gone, in an instant. And suddenly, I had the motivation. Search, select, delete, search, weed out the relevant bits, toss out the rest... 

So I spent all weekend on this project. Search, keep the few that I need, dump the rest...over and over and over, for two days. I took breaks to enjoy my family, James made Jiaozi and the kids helped him make a big chicken dinner...I sat with the cats and I deleted and addressed and deleted and addressed...and I did it. After two days of ruthless culling, I have finally whittled down my inbox to a mere 19 messages. Most of those are articles that James has shared with me over the years that I'd still like to read, a couple are from friends that need to be responded to, and one is there to remind me to vote in the current elections for the actor's union.That much, I can handle. 

So maybe the kids forgot it was mother's day this year until James stopped a fight by reminding them about it (and then they all piled onto my back with giggly vigor), and maybe I spent my whole mother's day in front of the screen while the kids rode bikes and scooters outside, and maybe we didn't prepare for our impending trip as we probably should have, but gosh darnit....last night I dreamed so vividly of my mom being around again, and it was so wonderful to see her, and spend time with her...and today I have that memory, and I have my inbox back. 

 And really, that's the main reason I care...because I know my mom would be proud of me for doing that. As much as I know she loved me unconditionally, I also know that I never met her standards for housekeeping or organizing my even though this is a kind of silly, stupid way to spend the holiday, for me, ignoring the holiday almost entirely and getting this major task accomplished was the perfect way to kinda spend it with my mom. 

Thanks for helping me clean up that mess, mama. I miss you so much, and I love you more than I can ever say. 

Happy mother's day. 

PS-don't worry about me not celebrating for myself...We are taking the kids on a special vacation after their uncle's wedding next week...there will be more festivities than we can handle, and I'll get my major fix of kid magic and smiles in there. I'm ok sitting this one out.

Plus, the 4H club project this week was to make mama wellness tea as gifts, so I had that, and our kiddos got completely smitten with the world of the vitamix, so they got us one as a combined mothers and fathers day gift. There will be ALL THE SMOOTHIES. I'd make one for you right now if I could. 

I hope you know how much these kids love you. They talk about you all the time, and often cry because they miss you.  And they each have things they hold sacred because they remind them of you...and they take pride when they realize that something about their being is akin to you. 

You may be gone physically, but you are so, so, SO not forgotten, but are loved and included every damn day. 

I miss you. 
and love you.  
and will take the chain from off that door, anytime. 
 Katie Rose