I have a tendency to get a little obsessive about things. It’s a delightful quality, really, and never annoys anyone close to me. Never. Anyway, moving on. One of the things that makes me absolutely giddy is to fall in love with a television or book series after it’s already complete. I was a very late adopter of Downton Abbey, and I recently blew through the entire series so fast I’m embarrassed to tell you how long it actually took. I love knowing the whole story as quickly as possible.
But I’ve discovered there’s a downside to being a binge watcher because once it’s over, that’s it. All of the anticipation is gone and you’re left at an awkward standstill until the next obsession presents itself.
I catch myself watching my son, only two years old, and anticipating what’s next. What’s next? What happens when he goes to kindergarten, when he gets his driver’s license, his first broken heart? What will he do for a living, what kind of person will he be, what mistakes will he make and how will he fix them? Have I taught him how to do the dishes so his wife doesn’t occasionally want to kill him for leaving yet another spoon in the sink? You know – tiny, insignificant little questions like that.
I find that when I binge watch or binge read something, I retain less of it. If questioned about something specific, I sometimes can’t recall the details of it other than “it was spectacular!” or “that nearly killed me!” (I’m looking at you, Downton Abbey Season 3 finale where you-know-who died and left me an emotional trainwreck.)
Where will our winding path take us, because, whether he likes it or not, it is our path. I’m on this little adventure with him. Granted, I will be taking a backseat as he gets older, and I have the truest intention of not being that mother, but there will never be a point where I am not interested or invested in his life.
What is the total run time of all six seasons of Downton Abbey, you ask? If you Google that question – which I totally just did – the very depressing answer is two days and eight hours. So, if you were to sit down and not fall asleep, not get up for food, water (wine), or bathroom breaks, you would spend 56 solid hours in early 20th century England. I’m going to avoid pondering that too much, because if I reflect long enough I may have to consider cutting ties with Amazon Video. But I don’t want to watch my son’s life in two days and eight hours. As much as I want to know the end of the story, I want to take the time to enjoy watching it unfold.
I’m not going to trot out the tired “enjoy this time because it’ll be gone too soon” trope you get from older women in the grocery store. You’ve heard it, you know it, and you hate those women just a little because they’re usually saying this while your precious angel is hanging off your leg begging for whatever useless crap is corralling you into the checkout line. But I have started to try to enjoy and even actively not enjoy moments as they are happening. I’m making a conscious effort to take a break from researching “best potty training methods” on my phone (yes, please start praying for me right this minute) and just pay attention. I’m trying to be present for even the bad moments – the no-we-do-not-hit, no-we-do-not-bite, no-we-cannot-paint-the-walls-with-dinner moments. If anything, these will make for great stories as he gets older. Challenging times though they are, I want to remember the details.
If I binge watch a show, I can always go back and watch it again, and I’m the type of person who actually will, but I’m not able to do that with my son’s childhood. This is a one-time showing, so if I want to catch it, I’d better pay attention now.