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, emailing 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. Never mind the endless stream of junk mail, those emails I can delete without hesitation. It’s all the rest that I must carefully read through for the important day to day stuff of life. Church. Work. High school. Middle school. Elementary school. Volleyball. Basketball. Hockey. Bible study. Birthday parties. Field trips. Bear sightings at school. I wouldn’t want to go back to snail mail or telephone messages that rambled on till the machine cut you off, but it sure has robbed the joy of emails.
And to make matters worse, I can’t get away from it. With my handy smart phone following me wherever I go, those dreaded emails now follow me to the grocery store or the hairdresser and need to be dealt with on each of my devices!
Despite my reluctance to face the crushing mountain of emails, I find myself inexplicably drawn to check my inbox throughout the day. My fastidious side comes out when I see that little red dot or hear the distinctive chime that accompanies a new message. It bugs me to just leave an accumulation of unread messages sitting there because the longer I leave it, the more overwhelming it becomes. Besides, I need to know when my next meeting is or where the kids need to be dropped off for youth.
But over the past few 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 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?” So, while I love the communication I have with each of my boys’ teachers, I admit that some days I wish I could simply adopt my 8 year old’s tactic for dealing with stress, 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.
With summer just around the corner, I’m looking forward to sleeping in, trips to the beach, camping and so much more. But I have to say, one of the best perks of summer is my empty inbox. While I used to wait with anticipation for an email and that feeling of being valued, important and remembered by someone, I’m ecstatic about the idea of having a summer of feeling small, unnoticed and forgotten by everyone!
That is until my phone dings with a text message, reminding me of my turn in nursery at church. Ahhh!!! There’s no hiding. I can see my next blog title already—“Remember when…text messaging was a novelty?!”