When Evelyn was a newborn, my phone was, at times, a lifesaver. It helped to keep me awake during late night feedings. While Evelyn was nursing, I played Yahtzee or completed crossword puzzles. I update my facebook page or looked at pictures I’d taken. She slept in a bassinet in our room and I would bring her into bed to nurse, but I was always afraid I would fall asleep and drop her. So, my phone kept me occupied. It also served as a guiding light through many nighttime trips to the bathroom during my pregnancy and after. Hey, I didn’t want to trip over the dog. I found myself using and relying on my phone more than ever before. It was easy to pull it out to take a picture of Evelyn’s adorable face and as a new mom I don’t even want to tell you how many times I consulted “Dr. Google” on everything from breastfeeding to poop.
It wasn’t long before she started letting me know that she noticed my tech use and my distraction. At only a few months old, she would stop nursing and cry if I was looking at my phone or laptop. She wanted my undivided attention. Recently, when I was rocking her to sleep, she had her eyes closed so I grabbed my phone to check something (couldn’t tell you what!) and she started grunting at me. I put the phone down and she was quiet again. Sometimes it’s so hard not to pick up that darn thing and look at it…and I feel guilty when I do. Not only does it take my attention away from the person who deserves it most, she NOTICES. She watches everything I do. What kind of example am I setting if I am picking up my phone every 5 minutes or spending time on my laptop instead of interacting with my daughter?
We decided early on that the dinner table would be a phone/iPad/laptop-free zone and we have been pretty good about sticking with it. But I really need to ditch the technology at other times too. After a long day at work, I come home and try to spend as much time as possible with Evelyn. I relieve Michael from his daddy duties so that he can refresh and have some time to himself. Around 8 o’clock I put Evelyn to bed and then I finally have some time to myself and I usually spend it glued to my computer. There are nights where Michael and I barely talk to each other because we are absorbed in separate distractions…the TV, the internet, whatever helps us to escape our lives for a few moments. Sometimes he chatters on to me and I realize that I haven’t heard a word he’s said.
Even as it’s happening, I find myself riddled with guilt over my “absence” from my own life. So, while I normally don’t make New Year’s resolutions, this year I am committing myself to being more present in my own life, in my marriage, as a mother, and as a friend, and as a family member. I’m not sure exactly what it’s going to look like or how I am going to do it. I don’t have some simple 10-step plan to follow. My only plan is to make each moment count. I know I will screw up. I know there will be days when I fall back into my old ways. But I will keep moving forward. I will show Evelyn that, in life, people are more important than things and that life can only truly be lived through participation.
How do remain present in your life? Are you making a resolution for 2013?