From May till September of this year, my small family lived on Lake Como in Northern Italy, where my husband worked at a water-sports center for the summer season.
The tiny apartment we were blessed to call home for those few months was charming in an old-fashioned way. It was a bright yellow centuries-old flat, on the corner of a narrow cobblestone street, so close to my neighbor’s window that not only could they see our underwear hanging out to dry; we could also hear their every whisper, laugh and (all too often) shouting marital disputes at 3am.
We, like any normal people, wanted to buy a super-fast wifi connection for our temporary home. But in order to do that, we would have to sign a whole year’s lease. Knowing we weren’t going to stay in the country that long, we opted to not have it. (When we finally purchased a plug-in Internet device, it was so slow that it was worse than having none.)
This made for daily trips to the wifi-friendly Bar Pace café across the street, where we sipped creamy cappuccino, ate fresh, fluffy croissants, and checked our emails for half an hour.
Weekends on the lake got a little more active, with parachuters dropping down from the Alpine slopes, kitesurfers plowing through the rippled waters, sailboats in regattas, and dozens of sunbathers enjoying summer.
But most of the time, life in Como was mostly uneventful; night-life was non-existent.
And after those slow-paced months, the realization hit me:
I didn’t miss not having Internet.
I didn’t miss not being “socially” connected.
I didn’t even miss texting!
I had a Twitter account, and a Facebook Page, and even a LinkedIn, yet never felt the urge to check my friends’ updates—never knew what was going on in half a thousand other people’s lives.
Here’s what I did do:
Ate chocolate gelato every day
Swam every day with my son
Read more books
Saw more sunsets
Did a lot of people-watching
Did a lot of listening
Went running every morning
Used my telephone only to book occasional dinners at restaurants, doctor appointments, and reach my husband
Drank lots of prosecco and vino rosso with girlfriends, without distractions
Read more stories to my son
Fed swans and ducks every day
Watched Futurama episodes as a family on our laptop, every night
Learned a little Italian (“Bambini! Attentione! Macchina!”)
Got off my butt to exercise and lost 16 lbs
For those few months, I also did more dishes, laundry and house chores than I’ve ever done in my short history of being married and being a mom. It was exhausting, since I also spent every moment with my son.
I spent every moment with my son.
And my husband, when he came home from work, did, too.
Today, I’m reminding myself of what life was like without an Internet connection there in Italy, because in a day or so, my world will change.
I’m buying a Smartphone.
Because of new changes, lifestyle moves, new work, travel and just plain Real Life, I’m getting back to being universally connected. I don’t want to be unrealistic about new business start-ups, career and family, and it’s essential that I strive for a balance (Main point: STRIVE.).
Yes, I’ll suddenly be ever-present in the online world, able to see all my updates and send out messages on the fly.
But I don’t ever want to forget the sweet life, the real Dolce Vita.
And that was, dear readers, being ever-present for my son, for my husband, and for myself—without distractions of modern living.
It was being able to hear myself think.
It was being able to hear both of my boys laugh, play, and even snore.
It was being able to silently pray, without static.
I’m making this note today so that maybe, even when Amazon delivers my brand new gadget, I can still find a balance-point–somewhere in-between real life, and the sweet life.
Maybe I can keep in mind what really matters.
If you have helpful tips on parenting while still being realistic about other obligations, work, etc, I’d love to hear from you :)