It took about 5 days for me to break a habit.
Actually, I still think I am in the “weaning” process.
I’ve slowly realized that I have a real problem.
I am addicted to my iPhone.
We moved away from our “home” just over 4 years ago. Leaving behind our friends, family, and everything familiar – I felt that I owed it to our loved ones to remain connected. I was feeling lonely for friends and family and guilty at the same time.
I felt that it was my “duty” to have some type of connection to everyone and I have done that through the many social channels that are available right at my fingertips.
I felt that it was my “duty” as a mother to help our friends and family “see” our children grow up in some way so that we still had a connection with what was familiar to us.
This has been great in some ways – but the effect on my kids is starting to show. The effect on me has been a bit more subtle.
The first step is admitting you have a problem.
When people have so much access to your life, they don’t call “just to talk” because they feel caught up already. I am guilty of this. Many of my conversations with friends since we have moved away were about things that they already knew about because it was posted on Facebook.
It is lonely being so very “Social”.
When a grandmother hears about some milestone of her grandchildren from 1,500 miles away for the first time on Facebook, feelings get hurt. I’ve tried to keep that from happening, but inadvertently it happens. And sometimes it is a cruel reminder of things missed or moments slipping away. That goes both ways too. Seeing holiday celebrations with family when you can’t be there or even just something simple like a family cookout – the distance stings when you can see it unfold through the social channels.
When one of the kids does something really amazing or cute and I go scrambling for my phone to capture the moment instead of going in for a hug or giving them my full attention and praise, there is a void left in the life of my children.
This week I finally did the opposite. I put the phone down. I played with my kids. And the results still have me smiling. And wishing I had done it sooner.
It was hard at first. Not just for me, but for my kids, too.
We played on the slip-n-slide and they were so happy that I did it with them instead of sitting on the sidelines snapping pictures or “tweeting” about it. We sat at the end of the slide and made up a story about a mermaid and a merman who got into some trouble and the Incredible Hulk came in and saved the day. I didn’t “tweet” or post a status update about that, either. But when my husband got home, they couldn’t stop talking about how mommy had played in the water with them.
The next day, we left for a family camping trip. We finally “scheduled” time to go camping and were able to use the brand new tent that had been sitting on our back porch for nearly a year. If our friends hadn’t invited us to join them and booked the site for us, I am not sure that my husband and I would have ever put a trip like this together. I am so thankful that they did.
The camp site was on a lake in the North Maine Woods. We had our own little rocky beach where we could swim. We were able to canoe and kayak and fish and play.
There was no phone signal.
I knew this already. My first thoughts were, oh no – what if something happens to my parents and nobody can reach me? What if our house burns down while we are gone and we don’t find out until we drive home? What if….???
Next I am thinking about all of the memories that I knew we would be making with our children. And how I feel so compelled to share every. little. detail. with the world.
And then I felt relieved that I didn’t need to. And that I couldn’t even if I tried. AHHHH what a relief.
|This is the only picture I took on my phone during our trip.|
We swam. We played. We had a shadow theater in our tent where an alligator attacked a pirate and the Incredible Hulk saved the day (can you tell my son is obsessed with the Hulk?).
And then there was this. Our view for the week:
My little girl learned how to float in the water on her back. I was the one that taught her how to breathe and relax.
My son squealed with glee when he fed the ducks out of his hands. I’m telling you, that little boy has a laugh that is infectious.
We found “special rocks” together and listened to nature sounds at night.
My knees were sunburned from so many trips out on the kayak.
I almost even took a nap in my beach chair listening to the sounds of the lake and loons and giggles.
I watched my husband paddle away in a canoe with our children giggling and pointing and chattering away – and on that adventure our little guy caught a couple of fish and they explored an island.
There were sparklers and toasted marshmallows every night.
My daughter was recapping her “firsts” on the drive home with an excitement that I will cherish and forever hold close to my heart.
Because we were there for them.
Our children had our complete attention with no distractions. Except for the *%$# deer flies and mosquitoes.
And on the drive home, the phone signal returned.
As soon as I had 4 bars on my phone I was scrambling for what I had missed while we were away. The kids were in the back seat sleeping away, but still – I had to stop myself.
Is being anti-social right for everyone? Hey, it is a personal choice. I’m certainly not going to judge any parent for posting pictures and updates and tweets about their kids. We all have our own reasons.
I’m sure I will go through stages of posting the play-by-play of our lives because I have a habit of it.
I am hoping that I remain mindful of what I may be missing if I do.
I will say that, for me, it was very painful when I realized that my kids weren’t used to me playing “with” them but rather documenting their lives. To them, I was an observer. That is going to change. They are growing up entirely too fast and my time with them is already all too brief as it is.
I’m already looking forward to our next adventure. I’m still going to bring my camera, but the phone can stay in my purse.