Put the Phone Down
I remember the day I was blessed to drive my mother-in-law’s car and head to the Verizon store. After attending two blogging conferences that year, I decided that I needed to be upgraded. I needed an iPhone.
Some two years later, I wonder what damage that iPhone has done to my relationships especially within this well-loved home. (Read Legos strewn everywhere.)
iPhone Idolatry Revealed
This week, I had the misfortune of struggling with a rather obnoxious headache. Upon returning home from Classical Conversations on Monday afternoon, I promptly dropped all my belongings (including the phone) and like a rocket landed in the targeted bed upstairs. The kids watched Friends and Heros and I planned to blissfully sleep until dinner time. Except I wasn’t able to.
Naomi thought I needed my phone and brought it up to me. Much like I would make sure she had her doll, Margaret.
I don’t think that Naomi has made an idol of Margaret, but I wonder about my own values and actions.
What does it say to my children when the phone is always in my back pocket or hoodie? It sits beside me in the van, like a front seat passenger. I have multiple accessories (or outfits) for it from a portable speaker that boosts the volume of “What Does the Fox Say?” to a Bluetooth Motorola speakerphone in the car for Audible stories.
They see me on it as I lay in bed, checking my Instagram stream when they make their last one, two, three trips to the bathroom before they finally give in to blissful sleep. And it is often the first thing in my hand as I climb out of bed. (I use my phone as an alarm clock.) It is pulled out before or after meals to record what I ate. And all important events are documented on it.
How the iPhone Has Changed My Posture
While I use my iPhone for many good things, before it existed my children saw my eyes far more – not the top of my head.
Instead of hearing um-hum, I responded with a question or interest rather than distraction. Or worse, that how-dare-you-interrupt me look!
They used to walk into the kitchen and find me happily blogging (not that this is any better) or fermenting something . . . and now rote tasks take me twice as long because I escape to IG, check my email, or hop on some other social media outlet.
Electronic clutter is what it is.
Responding to My Reading List of 2014
If you will recall, Hands Free Mama was on my list to read for 2014. I finished it last week. While the changes are slow, my children are thriving in small ways when I take the iPhone off of its leash and put it in a cage.
The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.
— Thich Nhat Hanh
We have more “sunset moments,” as Rachel Macy Stafford, author of Hands Free Mama calls them. These are the times where like a glorious sunset they will happen, but the question is whether or not you WITNESS them.
I want to witness Sunset Moments with my children. Thank you, Rachel.
Instead of zoning in the car, and allowing the seatbelt to restrain their voices from penetrating my thoughts, I am engaging in the imaginary race to pass as many spy cars as possible.
I find myself brushing Naomi’s hair and putting it up in yet one more pigtail, even though she has pulled it out three times in the past hour . . . because the reality is that she just wants to sit on my lap and talk about her day.
Being responsible for someone’s childhood is a big deal. We not only create our own memories, but we create our child’s memories.
– reader comment from Hands Free Mama
I stand watching the video the kids made, even though it is sooooooooooooooooooooo slow.
I am enjoying building Legos.
Recently, I unearthed my snow pants and went sledding. I would have missed seeing the canoe going down the hill. While Naomi did not enjoy the downhill adventure, together we did enjoy a hot chocolate.
Setting My Will
Setting the phone aside, the work before me done, and ignoring the task list on the counter — as been a willful choice that often happens with silent complaining. But each time I have been rewarded with Sunset Moments and hugs from my children. Little hand kisses. Whispers of, “I love you. You ARE the best mommy in the whole world.”
And the times I don’t set the phone down or the computer aside or place the vision casting on pause – I find myself impatient. Irritable. These are the times I need to stop.
It robs you of your sensibility . . . distorts what is truly important . . . causes you to focus on details that won’t matter in one year from now or even tomorrow. Distraction overload slowly begins to unravel the fabric of your well-being until one day you come completely undone.
– Hands Free Mama, pp 174
The truth is that I am not going to destroy my iPhone or get rid of it. But I am ignoring it more or opting to get up earlier in order to use it properly before my children arise. I don’t pull it out to capture every picture. I don’t respond to texts messages right away. And many days, I don’t scroll through my Instagram stream but once a day.
So, if you think you might have a distraction problem . . . or you seem super-glued or “krackled” to your phone, I highly recommend Hands Free Mama. It won’t make you feel guilty – that’s not the point. But it will cause you to consider making some changes in your habits to increase the frequency of Sunset Moments.
Habits are hard to break. But I would rather break my social media habit than my children’s hearts.