Tuesday, January 3, 2023

My Dirty Little Addiction

I have an addiction. To my phone. When I feel unhappy, unfulfilled, overwhelmed, depressed, bored, anxious, I turn to my addiction for escapism. And this past year, I have felt those emotions ALL the time. I reasoned that it wasn't a big deal. I mean, it wasn't harmful like alcohol, nicotine, or drugs so it wasn't really bad, right? Except that I was wrong. It was harmful. I think it has broken my brain. 

I can no longer seem to concentrate on a single task. I can't watch a movie without simultaneously scrolling on my phone. I can't clean my apartment without taking breaks to grab my phone. I can't talk on my phone without putting it on speaker so I can play games at the same time.

Cellphone addiction is not recognized as an actual psychiatric disorder, but there is a growing body of evidence that supports the notion. Obsessive use of smartphones can cause sleep disturbances, lowered concentration, anxiety, loss of relationships, poor school/work performance, among others. According to addictioncenter.com, research has shown that chronic phone use can alter a neurotransmitter, gamma-aminobutyric acid in the brain, as well as decrease gray matter, and it's linked to an increase in suicide.

I'm inordinately embarrassed to admit that I averaged over 9 hours a day on my phone last week. NINE HOURS! 

Now granted, I've been on winter break from school for the past 2 weeks, and this isn't the usual amount of time I spend on my phone, but still! I know I spend too much time on it. Over the past year, I could have spent that time on so many other more worthwhile endeavors. I never purposely looked at my usage statistics, so when this popped up a few days ago, it was an eye-opener. I mean, I knew I was pretty addicted to my phone, but I didn't realize just how much. After my shocking revelation, I resolved to change my habits immediately.

I conducted an earnest examination of my habits and concluded that my problem wasn't social media. I didn't feel like I was missing out on some elusive thing if I didn't constantly check my feeds. I never looked at TikTok, Instagram, and, other than occasional updates, had mostly stayed away from Facebook for years. For me, the biggest time wasters on my phone were games. I played them obsessively. I started during the pandemic, and quickly became so entrenched I couldn't stop. It was just a way to "numb out" so I didn't have to deal with the unpleasant things in my life. Of course, the unpleasant aspects of life don't go away when you ignore them. They are there, growing like a cancer even while we stay blissfully numb, idly playing on our phones.

I admitted that I also picked up my phone whenever I was bored, or whenever I was overwhelmed and didn't know where to start on my tasks. I picked it up whenever I was sad. I brought it with my everywhere - the laundry room, the bathroom, taking out the garbage.

Although there was some appeal to the idea of just getting rid of my phone, I knew that wasn't realistic. And really, smartphones are handy tools. They have features that make life easier, to be sure. Smartphones aren't inherently bad if you use them wisely.

When I went to bed New Year's Eve, I deleted the games from my phone, and vowed to be more cognizant of my phone usage. For the past 3 days, I've reached for my phone countless times, but each time, I've stopped and asked myself -  Do you really need to use it? If the answer was yes that I wanted to call my parents, text my kids, video chat with the grandkids, add something to my grocery list, check my email, look up some information, then I allowed myself to use it, careful to put it down the second I finished my task. If the answer was no, I was only reaching for the phone out of habit, then I refrained.

I figured I'd be pretty twitchy by now, going through cellphone withdrawal, but I was so absolutely disgusted by the time I'd been spending on my phone that I actually feel good with these new rules in place - 1. no games 2. use it consciously for purpose, and not just out of habit.

Tell me I'm not alone. Does this describe anyone else?

Sunday, January 1, 2023

These Names for Grandparents are Truly Unique

When my oldest son told me that he and his wife were expecting their first child, I could hardly contain my excitement and anticipation. I have the best memories of visiting my grandparents. I know my own kids loved playing with my parents, and sleeping over at their house was a total treat. I couldn't wait to create those amazing memories with my own grandchild. Thoughts of a snuggly little, sweet-smelling baby filled my head. Austin continued, "So what do you think, Grandma?"

Wait what? Grandma? Grandma??? No. Oh no, no, no. I am much too young to be a grandma. I mean, I know that having a grandbaby and being a grandma aren't exclusive; it's kind of a combo deal. You have a grandbaby - you become a grandmother. But no. Just no.

When I hear the word grandma, I think of a little old lady, her gray hair in a bun, a shawl draped around her stooped shoulders, as she knits and slowly creaks back and forth in a wooden rocking chair.

But grandparents today don't fit the picture of the little old lady in a rocking chair, they're vibrant and active. It's understandable why they may not want to be called grandma/grandpa because of the little-old-lady/man connotation, and have come up with these creative alternatives.

Nan Nan
Nice Lady                

Then again, like Donk on Downton Abbey, sometimes it doesn't matter what name you pick for yourself because those grandkids can come up with some pretty, uh, interesting names on their own!

My granddaughter, Islah's other grandmother is known as Lela (pronounced Layla.) She's Latina and her first granddaughter couldn't say abuela (Spanish for grandma.) So she became Lela and it stuck.

Dede: My grandson came up with Memoo. My daughter was going for Memaw. 

Krista: When my twins were toddlers, the word “Grandma” came out “Gaga”. They are 19 now and my mom is still Gaga.

When my nephew was little he called his dad's mom white grandma his mom's mom brown grandma. It was their hair colors. 

Amanda: My cousin referred to our Grandma as "Grandma Blue" when he was little. She used a blue tint on her hair.

Lisa: My favorite story is about a former coworker's mother who wanted to be called Grandmother. The first grandchild couldn't say Grandmother (duh) but could say Uffer, and that is what she was called. 

Jennifer: My mother-in-law was nana-shh because we would tell them to be quiet just in case she was asleep.

Anna: My grandkids call me Merma because my oldest couldn’t say Grandmom.

Megan: My kids call my mom "Pooh Pooh". There's a story behind the Pooh Pooh as that is definitely not what she envisioned being called.

Sandy: I was called grandma tomato when my granddaughter was maybe 3 we were teasing each other she said she was a good girl and I said that was debatable , Some how in her little mine she heard tomato so she started calling me grandma tomato.

Kim: I was supposed to be Grammy but when my granddaughter started referring to me she always said “Day” and that’s what both of my grandchildren call me.

Amy: My daughter calls her grandmother "hams". She had a hard time saying "grandma" and would say "hamm-ma" which as she got older just became hams. 

Don: The three younger grandkids call us guppy and gummy. The older of this group had a hard time saying grandpa and it came out something like guppy. So Guppy I became.

Five years ago, when I got to hold that first little, minutes-old grandbaby, I thought, You can call me whatever you want! That granddaughter now calls me Grandma and I wear it with honor. Because being a grandparent is pretty awesome no matter what you're called. 

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