The Monolithic Beast – trials and triumphs of technology and a lack of Waldorf perfection

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I’ve done too much over the last few days and today I have that sensation that will be familiar to most women who have experienced pregnancy – the I think I’ve been hit by a truck sensation, otherwise mildly known as exhaustion.

And perhaps this is why in the midst of all my Waldorf homeschooling planning I went out and bought an enormous monolithic beast/flat screen television.

What was I thinking?

We have not had a plugged in television for the best part of several years now but we have had a small flat screen tv and dvd player kept in a wooden cabinet. For the last decade we have had an on again off again relationship with technology.

I use technology all the time, I use my computer every day. Mostly I read, I research, generally speaking I use technology as an extension of my ongoing explorations into topics of interest, I am always researching something. So in that sense I think I use technology positively and when I feel that I’m losing the balance I usually do something extreme like just go cold turkey for a couple of weeks and don’t use it at all.

But having a television as a major focal point in the house is something I have never, ever wanted. That being said there have been periods of time in my mothering years when I have lost sight of my ideals and just let things go and used the television as a babysitter. I had four children in six years with no extended family support and it was a fairly overwhelming experience. Many things slipped, many things I believed in and that were important to me. But I am gentle with myself about these things, life as mother in the contemporary world is not easy. I have just started reading The Incarnating Child by Joan Salter and in the first chapter she writes

Never has motherhood meant such a demand on the total being of a young woman as it does today. Formerly, even earlier this century, there was always a nurse-maid or extended family to help and support. Today, young mothers experience an intense loneliness not known before. Added to this there are sleepless nights, the never-ending washing, housework, shopping, often a crying colicky baby and so on….

I can identify with these words quite clearly, this has been my experience and it will continue to be and the fact that I have chosen to have a large family in spite of it does not take away from the experience of motherhood sometimes feeling like a trial. I am grateful for my role, I would not want to change it but it has been a struggle.

And when we struggle our ideals slip and we let ourselves down.

So back to the television. I didn’t grow up with one, the first television came into our family home when I was ten years old and that is something I am eternally grateful for because I read voraciously and I explored outside, I didn’t spend my formative years glued to a box. And I can see how this benefitted me.

But our life was different, we lived on a farm, there was room to run and scream and imagine. In suburbia these opportunities have to be mostly constructed and it is a struggle for me learning to be that kind of parent because it’s not a norm I grew up experiencing. The planned activities/helicopter parenting norm is utterly strange to me.

That being said, I love creativity so there are many childhood activities that I can do without much fuss spontaneously and joyously, I love art, craft, painting and constructing. I let my children play in the dirt as though we live on fifty acres.

We have spiritual ideals that are often at odds with mainstream society yet I understand youth psychology fairly well, I don’t want to emphasise too many things as forbidden because it just creates an idealisation and the likelihood of the children gravitating towards them later on and I feel like this about technology too.

So if we are going to have occasional access to screens then it might as well be fun!

I spent most of yesterday homeschool planning hence my squashed by a truck feelings today. The more I read, the more inspired I feel as long as I don’t let my areas of failure get to me. With age comes the awareness that these areas of supposed failure are always a matter of perspective.

Besides look at the splendid creations that can spring from the purchase of a monolithic beast!

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So as evening approaches the ‘truck’ is rumbling away a little bit and I almost have the energy to arise and make a cup of tea.
On one side of me is the monolithic beast and on the other is The Incarnating Child. These paradoxes and contradictions are the story of my life.

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