slice of life · technology

Grasping a Childhood

This morning, Facebook provided me with a look back of everything I’ve shared on this day. On February 6th, 2013, I shared an article called “How to Miss a Childhood.” If you have children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews, or care for young children, then please read this article now or after you finish reading this post. (Whatever works best for you. Please take the time to read it because it’ll change the way you live.) The premise of the article is simple. PUT DOWN YOUR PHONE so you can witness the little people you’re lucky enough to have in your life.

Anyone who’s read this blog for awhile knows I don’t allow phones or tablets at the dining table at home or in a restaurant. Much to the dismay of my parents (Hi Mom & Dad!), I keep my cell phone on vibrate unless I’m awaiting a phone call from a doctor. I limit my six-year-old’s media consumption to one hour of television — at most — per day. Screen time for speech- or phonics-related games might be up to another 45 minutes, but she’s doing them alongside me so I don’t think of it as true screen time.

I am by no means a perfect parent, but I try — really, really hard — to be a good parent. Like everyone, I fail more than I succeed.

Enter Baby #2 back in September. I have to admit, I’ve been on my iPhone a lot more since Ari was born. I turn to it during feedings to keep myself from falling asleep. Seeing as Ari eats every three hours, I’m on my phone a lot more than I need to be.

I reread “How to Miss a Childhood” while feeding Ari this morning. If I am being honest, then I have to admit I have been attending to the buzzing of my phone more than I should. More people text me than ever before. (I detest the immediacy of texting. I resisted it for a long time because the urgency of it seems ridiculous to me. However, I have succumb to the technology since so many people want me to use it.) In addition, my email inbox is fuller than I’d like it to be. As a result, I am on my phone way more than I should be.

Bedtime Tonight. Look at his little hand on my shoulder. Would I have noticed his hand if I were on my phone? Probably not.
Bedtime Tonight. Look at his little hand on my shoulder. Would I have noticed his hand if I were on my phone? Probably not.

Rereading “How to Miss a Childhood” encouraged me to put my phone down more often today. Instead of checking Twitter or reading articles from The New York Times after each of Ari’s feedings (He has to be held upright for 20 minutes because he’s a spitter-upper.), I sang to him. You can’t sing to your child when you’re reading! Singing to him allowed me to look into his eyes. I saw his face brighten each time I sang a tune he enjoyed. I also had a clear lap, devoid of a device, when he spit up on me — twice!

I’ve gotten in the habit of giving Isabelle my full attention. I’m not distracted when I’m with her. I only check email or send a text in her presence if there’s an immediate need. I don’t use Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram when she’s around. Even though my son is little, I’ve come to realize he deserves my presence right now.

This evening, I rocked Ari to sleep in his glider. He smelled of Alimentum, Aquaphor, and Aveeno Moisturizing Soap. It’s an odd combination, but I inhaled his scent and savored it. He’ll only be little once, I told myself. I have to stay present because you don’t get a second chance at parenting your child.

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10 thoughts on “Grasping a Childhood

  1. Stacey, As a new grandparent, I too have to work towards staying focused on my new little ones. The lure of social media and the immediacy of the iphone is very real for me now more than ever. I am grateful that these technologies did not play a role in my children’s upbringing and hope they wont be so much for my new little grandbabies. Off to read the article. I am certain I will pass it along.

  2. This is such a critical perspective for today’s parenting. I didn’t have a cell phone when I had my girls. But now, when my girls and I talk about how they are going to parent, I ‘m thankful they notice how important it is to keep the phone in check when there are so many amazing moments to be had with that little one!

  3. When I have my cell phone out around my granddaughter, it is to capture her in photos and videos. Then when she’s being fussy, we watch the videos. She loves to watch herself (and so do I). You are right, they are only little for such a short time.

  4. Thank you for resharing this. No matter what, we need a reminder to focus on our little ones more intently in these fleeting times. It doesn’t have to be technology that occupies our attention. For the longest time, it was my grad school reading. The only time reading was not a healthy thing is when I said something like, I cannot play with you right now. I have reading to do. A very important reminder you share this morning.

  5. It seems that so many people these days are connected to their devices and not the people around them. I find it so sad when I see couples out for dinner texting and not talking to the person sitting right across from them. Little ones grow so quickly it would be a shame to miss this growth because of a phone.

  6. Phones are sneaky–first it’s just a text to respond to, then all of a sudden you’re on Facebook or Twitter and time has flown by. My family was out eating lunch on Sunday and the table next to us was occupied by a little boy who was about 5 and his mom, who was talking on her phone the entire time (at least 20+ minutes)–I felt so bad for him as he ate by himself. I try to be careful about using my phone in front of my kids, but it is easier said than done (in fact, it’s what I ended up writing my slice about today, too). Your post is just another great reminder to keep the technology put away. 🙂

  7. This is such a touching post, Stacey, and thank you for sharing your personal time with Ari. You are in the moment with your children and for that you must feel joyful. You are right – those moments only come around once.

  8. A great reminder! When I was still snuggling my children while they ate I often sat and stared and them, enjoying their tiny little faces. I miss that! And I am glad I enjoyed it while we were there.

  9. Beautiful! I’ve been trying hard to be less “on-demand” and directly telling people that I don’t appreciate evening texts, I’m not on my school email after school, etc. But the temptation to read articles and scroll through social media is sooooo strong sometimes, especially when I feel like I just need a break. (How doing that is less exhausting than watching my daughter play, now that she plays more independently, I don’t know, but it feels like it is…) An important reminder for everyone! You are such an incredible parenting role model!

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