I got my first iPhone back in 2008, and it changed my life. Not only was I suddenly super hip, but this slick, magical, handheld box from the technology Gods made me insanely connected. I was always checking email (not because I was expecting an email, mind you, but merely because I could check email), or I was updating Facebook and Twitter from my fancy social device. Oh yes, and I chatted on it, too. I called pretty much anyone who would talk to me… as long as they were on the same carrier as I was.
Fast forward a few years and my ridiculously connected life looked a little like this: my cell phone was always with me, resting on the kitchen counter was my iPad with a shiny new cover (What? You don’t buy a new one every couple of months because they’re pretty?), a laptop whirring in the living room, and my home office computer springing to life every time someone walked by (almost as if beckoning me to come visit Amazon.com or Zappos). If you wanted to talk, I was just a phone call away… or a text… or an email… or a FB post… or a twitter message.
I was clearly addicted to being connected… that is, until last fall.
At the end of the summer last year, I took my oldest, Crazy #1, shopping for back to school clothes. We were actually able to visit a plethora of clothing stores without her passing out from boredom (very unlike her dad). We spent a few hours bopping around downtown Walnut Creek’s Broadway Plaza and having some serious mommy-daughter time, and then stopped at Auntie Anne’s for a gluten filled treat for my daughter.
After sitting down for a few minutes I picked up my phone to check in… you know, in case something incredibly important happened between now and the last time I checked it 15 minutes ago.
But something caused me to put my phone down. I’m not sure what it was… maybe it was the sight of my growing daughter, happily munching on her butter laden soft pretzel sticks, and the realization that this is our time together – I needed to be here with her… not on my phone.
I asked her if it was okay that I check my email. She looked up at me, butter dripping down her wrist, and said “no.”
I think my heart skipped several beats because it took me a moment to process what just happened. Did she say, “no”?
OMG. She did! I was stunned and slowly dropped my phone back into my purse. Upon seeing this, she got up, quietly drifted over to me and gave me a deep, lingering hug. OMG. Did she just give me a hug for putting my phone away?
It took everything I had not to start crying right there. My crazy, shopaholic daughter cared if I check my phone. She cares if I’m sitting with her at the table and not talking to her. Holy cow. That’s it, isn’t it? Of COURSE she cares if I’m engaged with her. Of COURSE she cares that I talk with her and not bow my head and click away on my phone chatting with people several states away on Facebook. Who wouldn’t?
Think about it… how annoyed do we get with other adults who do that to us? And here we are, everyday, tapping away on our cell phones and putting a barrier in between us and our kids. The thought of what it must feel like pains me. She’s little. She’s sitting there thinking we’re on a special date together, and I have the audacity to bust out my phone on the off chance that I got a text message from my BFF? Who, I might add, has kids of her own and would totally understand if I didn’t get back to her right away.
Sadly, I never stopped long enough to put myself in my kid’s shoes. But ever since our Auntie Anne’s date last fall, I declared my home a cell-phone-free zone during our peak after school hours and will regularly leave my phone at home if we go out.
If you take just a moment and ask yourself how you’re affecting your kids, you’ll likely realize the same thing I did… it’s not worth it.
It. Can. Wait.
There are very few things that are more important than bonding with our kids right now. And if something else is more important, the person trying to get a hold of you isn’t going to email, are they? They’ll call. Twice. I promise. :)
P.S. Now when my kids see my phone come out of my purse, they instantly ask if I’m going to take a picture… I think I prefer it that way.
P.P.S. This is the dress Crazy #1 tried to get me to buy as one of her back to school outfits… not only is it a million sizes too large for her, it really wouldn’t fly at her school. Apparently they have “wardrobe rules”. I’m fairly certain a frilly, strapless gown would fall into the do-not-wear-ever-category.