I had to do without my laptop for a couple of days when the hard drive mysteriously died and it had to be repaired. (I suspect it was dropped but no one will admit it.) The stairs to the desktop upstairs never seemed so tall. I only got it last Christmas. I didn't realize I had become so addicted to its convenience. I've been doing without my night bejeweled blitz game and facebook and blogs.
I've been doing without ice cream. (OK, truth be told, I caved and bought some at the grocery store tonight. I'm weak!) I have gained back a few pounds and don't want to backslide too far. I need to tighten the belt, so to speak. The weight gain mysteriously coincides with the laptop acquisition.
I've been doing without the family car. My husband of 8 years just got his first driver's license. We're having to share the car, which is new. And it's often inconvenient for one of us. Luckily we live within easy walking distance of almost everything, and walking more helps with the weight gain. Unless I walk to the store to buy more ice cream.I've been doing without television. We haven't had cable tv since we moved into this house five years ago. Since the digital switchover, despite having the magical box and an antenna, we get terrible reception. So we just haven't been watching television. We watch dvds. We keep visiting the idea of paying for cable, or satellite, or FIOS. But we keep coming back to the idea that we can do without just fine.
Since I became Mom, I have done without personal time or any semblance of privacy. (I get a hug from Thing Two every time I go to the toilet. Is that because he is getting praise for going potty?) I do without time alone with my husband.
About most things, I'm fine to do without, especially if it's only temporary. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. I don't mind when my husband travels for business, or the week my kids spend at their grandparents' house. I love food but I can give it up if need be. I can give up convenience and comfort. Part of me thinks deprivation builds character. Silent retreats. Fasting. Simple Living. Walden.
One of the most interesting experiments I've ever done was part of The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron: a week of reading deprivation. It was so ridiculously difficult for me. No reading books, magazines, newspapers, online, cereal boxes while you eat breakfast, pamphlets at the doctor's office waiting room, nothing. Only necessary reading for work/school and situations like menus was allowed. The idea was that you can spend that time and energy in creative pursuits, like thinking and planning and sketching your next art project, or actually working on it! It was excruciating. It did make me realize how much time I waste distracting myself with reading. I read to escape. I read to escape boredom, to avoid conversations I don't want to have with my spouse, to block out external sensory input that I want to ignore (like loud annoying kids, my own, by the way. I'm rereading this blog entry right now while I try to ignore their loudness). I read to procrastinate.
There are some things I cannot do without. Like my meds (you think I'm joking, don't you?). I've tried to go without them. I could make it work before I had kids. I could function. With all the stress and overstimulation that comes with small children, I can't do it. At least not yet. I really don't like being on meds. It makes me feel weak for needing help. It makes me feel dulled. It makes me feel like my essential me-ness is shrouded in a fog. But it enables me to function on a daily basis. It allows me to get out of bed, get myself together, deal with stubborn mule-brained boys all day, do the same boring thankless tasks I do to keep our household running again, and be mostly nice to people. I feel like the trade-off is that much of my creativity is shoved to the back burner for now. I guess that comes with parenting.
I've been doing without my family and alot of friends for way too long. We live 1000 miles away from them now. And I miss them. Some things, like television and ice cream, I don't mind doing without. But I don't like having to do without the people I love.