by contributing writer, Tonya Ferguson
I had no idea, several months later, iPhone Mom would go viral over and over and over again. The reviews were mixed, some good like, “I put away my phone and talked to my little boy about school today and learned things I had missed all year!” Some bad, those commenters pointing out all the reasons mom should be on her phone and how we shouldn’t give our kids that much attention.
I get it, I do.
We are a connected society, but to what point? Do we HAVE to answer the phones every ding and alarm? Is it really worth missing play time, family dinner, talking to our kids about their day, for it?
At what point do we become slaves to the very thing that gives us freedom to search at the swipe of a screen?
I know and understand that there are extenuating circumstances that make situations like a mom on her phone in the park necessary. I UNDERSTAND! If this doesn’t apply to you, great! But guess what, there ARE moms (and dads for that matter!) at the park, picking up from preschool, families at a restaurant or around the dinner table; ALL missing opportunities to invest face to face time in each other, because they are on the phone for fun, are slave to it’s every ding, or merely scrolling and checking it out of habit!
That is what this letter is about, and please, hear me- there was NO REAL MOM AT THE PARK that I was staring at when I wrote this post. And no, this is not about attachment parenting.
Now that we are on the same page, are you ready to read? :)
Dear Mom On the iPhone,
I see you over there on the bench, messing on your iPhone. It feels good to relax a little while your kids have fun in the sunshine, doesn’t it? You are doing a great job with your kids, you work hard, you teach them manners, have them do their chores.
But Momma, let me tell you what you don’t see right now…..
Your little girl is spinning round and round, making her dress twirl. She is such a little beauty queen already, the sun shining behind her hair. She keeps glancing your way to see if you are watching her.
Your little boy keeps shouting, “Mom, MOM watch this!” I see you acknowledge him, barely glancing his way.
He sees that too. His shoulders slump, but only for a moment, as he finds the next cool thing to do.
Now you are pushing your baby in the swing. She loves it! Cooing and smiling with every push. You don’t see her though, do you? Your head is bent, your eyes on your phone as you absently push her swing.
Talk to her. Tell her about the clouds, Mommy. The Creator who made them. Tickle her tummy when she comes near you and enjoy that baby belly laugh that leaves far too quickly.
Put your eyes back on your prize…Your kids.
Show them that they are the priority today. Wherever you are, be ALL there. I am not saying it’s not ok to check in on your phone, but it’s a time-sucker: User Beware!
Play time at the park will be over before you know it.
The childhood of your children will be gone before you know it.
They won’t always want to come to the park with you, Mommy. They won’t always spin and twirl to make their new dress swish, they won’t always call out, “WATCH ME!”
There will come a point when they stop trying, stop calling your name, stop bothering to interrupt your phone time.
Because they know…
You’ve shown them, all these moments, that the phone is more important than they are. They see you looking at it while waiting to pick up brother from school, during playtime, at the dinner table, at bedtime…..
I know that’s not true, Mommy.
I know your heart says differently.
But your kids can’t hear your words, Mommy. Your actions are screaming way too loudly.
May our eyes rest upon those we love, first and foremost, and may everything else fall away in the wonderful, noisy, sticky-fingered glory of it all.
Love, A Distracted Mom Who Is Trying To Change
I don’t have an iPhone, but I DO have a computer. I do have a Facebook account. I do sit down and have to edit photo sessions, or write articles for the paper, and I will be the FIRST to admit, that I am CONSTANTLY fighting the “Distraction Factor” they offer. In the letter to iPhone Mom, I am talking to all of us as moms! As dads! As family units!
Time to re-focus, re-prioritize! Isn’t it our job to encourage and lift each other up?
Isn’t it also our jobs to point out hard truths?
Encouraging each other to take a hard look at how we spend our time. Encouraging each other to put media aside, and get down on the floor and play with our kids, stare into the eyes of our spouses and have a real conversation, laugh as a family around a board game.
To sit around the dinner table and TALK about the day, not silently chew while we stare at the TV, or down at our individual phones.
To get off our cell phones before we check out at the store, so we can be polite and friendly to those we come in contact with.
How easily satan uses those distractions to steal, kill and destroy what we hold dear to us.
I will never forget when this all became clear to for me….
The children were in bed, the house was dark, and I was getting ready for bed, when I noticed a stack of books on the edge of my desk. Books my 2 little ones had been asking me to read ALL DAY. A stack of books that was set aside until Mommy could get her work done. Work turned into research, turned into facebook, turned into answering emails, turned into……NOT READING AT ALL.
I went to bed defeated that night, hot tears streaming down my cheeks and dripping onto my pillow, as I cried out to God to help me do better. To help me put my eyes back on the people that need me the most, my family.
Was my stuff on the computer more important than my children? Heavens no! But my actions are always screaming louder than my words ever could.
What did my actions say to my kids that day?
“My computer is more important than you today. Go play! I simply don’t have time for you.”
But, how can we succeed when distraction is in our hands or waiting at our desk top in an instant? I will talk more about this tomorrow.
For now, make it a point to put away that phone, make eye contact with your family, and watch your home change for the better!