All of Me: Choosing to Be Here Now
Before I became a Mom, I always daydreamed what my life would look like once I had a child. I couldn't be more grateful that, for the most part, I am living out that day dream. I am lucky to get to wake up, drink my coffee slowly while she flips through books, and spend the rest of my day singing several rounds of "The Wheels on the Bus" and showering my sweet girl with kiss after kiss.
My pre-baby stay-at-home-mama (SAHM) daydream definitely included most everything that makes up our daily routine (thanks, years of babysitting) - but what wasn't part of that daydream was the heavy reliance and use of technology in today's day-to-day life.
SAHM life can be somewhat isolating, particularly if you have a kid that thrives on routine and when pushed to the 'overtired' mark, goes into beast mode (that's ours, if you were wondering). To remedy the isolation and repetitiveness that comes from being home all day everyday with a small human, it's easy to turn to social media and iMessage to connect with friends and family. When she was a newborn, the constant connectedness didn't seem like a big deal - daily texts from well-meaning loved ones asking "How's the baby?" were easy to respond to in a 'normal' time frame. (Quick digression: it seems like an immediate response is the norm...does anyone else feel that way?! The 'need' to respond right away!? Give me your input on this - I want to know how you feel about what the 'appropriate' time frame is to respond to a text!) Then, as babies do, she grew up. She stopped sleeping all the time, got busier, and now is everywhere. Her world is opening. She wants me there with her to name objects and validate her feelings. She wants me to be present right along with her.
It's a funny thing, how I'm starting to resent my iPhone - the only tool that really connects me to my social life and the outside world. Like most people, I am one of those millennials that checks their Instagram feed often. I admit that there have been moments where I've realized I'm looking at my phone during some seriously sweet moments...and for what? A recipe? A picture of someone's pet? So I made an executive decision - I'm going to do everything in my power to break up with my iPhone during our girl's awake hours. For now. Here are my ramblings related to my decision:
- Her brain is growing rapidly. EVERYTHING is new, exciting, and fun. Her joy and curiosity is heart warming and innocent. I want to be there with her for all of it. She's teaching me to slow down, she's teaching me to go back to basics and look at everything just as it is. Simply put, in these early years, she deserves to have all of me.
- She'll never, ever be as small as she is today, ever again. If I think about this too long, I cry.
- When you bring your child to daycare, or to a babysitter, you leave them with the expectation that the caregiver won't be on their phones the whole time, right? I think there are even rules about it in childcare workplaces. If I were in the situation where I was dropping our daughter off in someone else's care, I would have the expectation that they would give her their undivided attention. What makes her time with me any different?
I'm reading Simplicity Parenting and I admit, it's opening my eyes to some habits that I'd like to change in our home to create a more simple life for our little love. At the same time, I want to be realistic. I was a cartoons kid, my husband was a cartoons kid, and we are excited to introduce all kinds of technology to our daughter when the time is right.
I know that checking my phone or responding to a text doesn't change the fact that I'm a good Mom who makes great decisions for our daughter, and I know that I am certainly not perfect. I completely understand that independent play is just as healthy and important for a child's brain as adult-directed play. In those pockets of time, where she's focused on her own tasks, I can take the time to respond to texts or answer an email. I'm making it a point to be more present in my life and in hers, to REALLY "be here now", in these moments that are so perfectly perfect and worth attending to.
As we move into the New Year, I'm looking forward to seeing how this intention plays out. The pressures of keeping up on social media are often too great. I want to stay engaged, to participate, and to benefit from connecting on social media without sacrificing presence. More to come, we'll see how it goes!