I remember when getting an email was a novelty. I wrote my first email in college to my roommate sitting in the computer lab next to me. Eventually, after marrying and being transplanted to Abbotsford, I used email as a way to keep in touch with my family living in the prairies. I’d turn on my computer, grit my teeth, enduring all the shrill beeping and squealing as my computer connected to the internet and then wait with anticipation for an email from home, catching me up on all the latest.
Years later I was still waiting with anticipation, minus the squealing and the dial up, but this time for letters from even farther away as we awaited any updates on our little boy in Thailand who we’d soon bring home to Canada. Emails were exciting, something to look forward to, a way to stay connected to the people you love.
But somewhere along the way, email has changed. I no longer walk past the computer and pause to jiggle the mouse in the hopes that I might see a little “you’ve got mail” symbol. In fact, I almost studiously avoid making “eye contact” with that blank screen as I hurry on past with a load of laundry or a 2-year-old in tow as I rush him to the bathroom. Never mind the endless stream of junk mail. Those emails I can delete without hesitation. It’s all the rest I have to carefully read through for the important day-to-day stuff of my life. Church. Work. High school. Middle school. Elementary school. Volleyball. Basketball. Hockey. Adoption group-Korea. Adoption group-Thailand. (Okay, maybe those are somewhat specific to my life but I’m sure you get the picture). And to make matters worse, I can’t get away from it now with my iPhone and the family iPad. Now those dreaded emails need to be dealt with at least three different times on each of my devices!
Despite my reluctance to open up my inbox, my goal is to check it at least once a day. I need to know when my next meeting is or who is driving for the carpool. But over the past couple of years I’ve noticed a new phenomenon. The teachers whom I love and respect can unknowingly strike fear into my heart the moment I see their name in my inbox. I scan quickly to see if it’s a mass email to the class or one directed just to me. If it’s to the whole class I can relax a bit. It probably means some dates to add to the calendar or maybe an upcoming project that will require a lot of mom participation. It adds to the busyness but we’ll manage. But if it’s only addressed to “yours truly”…oh boy. I gulp and hope for the best, all the while my thoughts are running wild.
“What did I forget? Did I volunteer for something and not show up? What’s he done now? A meeting? What kind of a meeting? Teachers don’t ask for a meeting unless it’s something big, right? I bet my kid is gonna fail Kindergarten and she needs to break it to me in person.” (I have never been labelled as a dramatic person, but my husband feels I have some talents in that department.)
So while I love the communication email allows, I admit that some days I simply adopt my five-year-olds’ tactic for dealing with stress. I plug my ears, close my eyes and chant “I can’t hear you! I can’t hear you!”
So if I don’t reply to your email as quickly as I should, my apologies. I’ll get to it eventually.