Aug 052009

During dinner the next night, we said to the kids, “Our family time is very important, and we want to spend it wisely and carefully. We’re not sure the TV is the best use of our time, so, for now, it’s gone.” We braced ourselves for hysterics. Instead we got, “Oh, ok. That’s weird. What’s for desert?” It was no big deal to them then, and it isn’t now- it’s their new normal. A week after our dinner announcement Chase said, “Mommy, without the TV I’m bored.” I expressed what a fortuitous delight it was that he didn’t have enough to do because I had too much to do… and I handed him the broom and some Windex and told him to go clean his bathroom. Look mommy, no more bored! Now they look to each other to figure out what to do next. Their reward for a long day at school is to build forts, play outside, or lie around and stare at the walls and sigh together. They are learning much earlier than I did that boredom is the place creativity begins.

I’ve never been comfortable with silence. I spend much of my day wishing for peace and quiet, and then as soon as it presents itself, I kill it with noise. I turn on the TV, the radio, the computer…anything not to be left alone with myself. When we got rid of the TV, I decided to actually give peace and quiet a chance. And in these periods of stillness I have discovered another life – a creative, reflective, spiritual life which is now layered on top of my daily existence as a mother. It’s when I am able to transcend the immediate and urgent needs of my kids and home and allow God to take my thoughts wherever He wants them to go, uninterrupted. It’s when I listen for and hear His voice. For me, the danger of constant input is that in the absence of that still small voice, any voice will do. So these days when the kids are off playing, when I’m doing the dishes, in the early morning and late evening… I discipline myself to keep everything off and just be for awhile. And sometimes I actually get some of that peace I’m always chasing.

Craig agrees that life without the TV is more peaceful. He reads more, and worries less…he’s discovered that our 401ks will be the same whether or not we allow our hearts to rise and fall with the Dow Jones. He’s proud that we, along with the Amish, seem to be the only Americans who didn’t know a single detail about Michael Jackson’s funeral. He also tells me that he feels closer to me lately. Like the kids, we have to depend on each other now for entertainment. He does note a few flaws in our experiment thus far. Our credit card bills suggest that my shopping habit hasn’t changed yet… so I ask him for patience, hoping that it just takes time to detoxify the ego and soul and to redirect the minivan’s trajectory. He also mentions that we don’t seem to be having all that frequent hippy sex that was predicted. When he removed the TV from the wall, he couldn’t commit to putting it away for good, so he slid it underneath our bed. Craig and the TV hang out in our bedroom together a lot, dreaming of their glory days and wishing someone would come in and turn them on.

Jul 302009

The evening after the intervention, my sister took me to my first AA meeting.She held my sweaty, shaky hand and walked just in front of me, scanning for problems or people from whom to shield me, like she always does. She took an AA brochure from a table so we’d have something to look at as we sat and joined the circle. On the front was a list of warning signs of alcoholism:

Do you drink more than four servings in a setting? One time I didn’t. Do you ever drink in the mornings? Only on weekends. Do you ever blackout? Can’t remember.Have you suffered negative consequences from drinking? Well, being at an AA meeting seemed like a pretty negative consequence.

Neither of us said a word until my sister leaned over and whispered, “I don’t know if AA is going to be good enough for you. We might need Triple A.”