I’ve been thinking a lot about addiction. Chiefly my addiction to the android I’m using to write this blog post. If you ask me? It’s a fairly mild case. I leave my phone in my purse when I’m around friends. I don’t use it at the dinner table. I try not to check it first thing in the morning. My husband hates it when I check it first thing in the morning. In fact, we talked about this very thing, at length, the other day. He gently reminded “our kids are watching you.” It’s true. They don’t take their eyes off of me even when I’m staring at a screen. I felt a little discouraged by what felt like a mini-intervention. I’m an indie author and blogger. Social networking is the only way to promote my work. “But that’s not what the kids see. They just see you looking at your phone.” Donald said.
If I’m honest, I’m not always productive online. I’m not even productive half the time. I get sucked into the vortex of social feeds and wind up reading random blog posts about why women need more sleep than men. If my husband reads this— for the record, I need a minimum of 30 more minutes. I typically keep my phone on the charger in the kitchen when it’s time to sleep. (I’m serious about sleep). I’m also serious about staying present. My husband knows that’s my life’s work right now. Well, he sure is holding me accountable. I believe presence makes a powerful statement. I’m telling my kids they’re worthy of attention. That’s why the convo with the hubby hurt me. I hate to admit how many times I’ve probably shown them otherwise. Children and babies especially need our undivided attention. This video and blog post by Dr. David Puder highlights just how important it is for the developing brain. Babies enter fight or flight mode if a caregiver fails to engage with them.
It’s a wake-up call if you’re a mom. At least, it was a wake-up call for me. My mantra de jour: Put the phone down and just be there. Stay present. Although, I didn’t pick up the phone one day and decide I’d like to tack another bad habit to my life. This took hold slowly probably dating back to when I bought my first BlackBerry, sipped my first coffee and was drinking too many Cape Cods. I’ve come a long way since 2007. I understand addiction better. Here’s my working definition: anything needed to heighten the experience of the present moment and/or anything used to help numb or escape it. The worst kind of addictions do both. For example, iced-coffee elevates my experience of the moment. I sip the flavor and take in the world around me. Food does the same thing. If I’m aware I can luxuriate in the present moment and enjoy my iced coffee or Pasta al Forno without concern. It’s just another way to enjoy the present. If I’m not aware I run the risk of excess or using it to numb or escape. This is when addiction harms our health and relationships because we can justify them. I need to eat. I need to drink coffee in the mornings. Or I need to use the phone for work.
Mom to mom. The phone is a mini-escape for me. It’s numbing. It makes the moment more exciting too. A friend might post a lovely picture of Fiji with a quote meant to help me make it through the day. That’s what I’m doing quite often—just making it. A word from a friend can do wonders. Moms, it’s like we’re still passing the time by passing notes in class and writing on each other’s locker room wall. Of course, we’re not in school, we’re grown up and motherhood definitely packs a drab moment for every joyful one. I can brighten those moments just by looking at pics of my niece or nephews or laughing with @celestebarber on Instagram. Sometimes, I’m almost waiting for someone to reach through the phone to pull me away from my least favorite mothering chores. It’s deleterious and not even conscious. If I’m not careful or more self-aware I might inadvertently show the vast, thrilling digital world more love than I show my family. Checking the phone constantly sends a powerful message to my kids. It occurs to me it also tells God I’m not grateful for the beauty right in front of me. It’s almost an act of ingratitude to use the phone in this fashion. I must remind myself again and again. There’s nothing better than right here, right now.
And right now, I can use the phone guilt free and with purpose while my kids sleep. I do love connecting with other moms via social media when the timing is right. Writing feeds my soul and keeps me sane. Although, I refuse to get lost wandering around online when I’m supposed to be modeling mindful living. My husband is right. I don’t want a decade to pass only to find my teens glued to their phones 24/7. Remember the old anti-marijuana public service announcement “Who taught you how to do this?” “I learned it by watching you.” Sigh, that’s enough to get me to stay present—to show up for my kids in body, mind, and spirit. So, if you text or comment on one of my posts give me a bit. I’ll sneak on during naptime or when Paw Patrol comes on.
P.S. PLEASE POST MORE BEACH PICS. Anybody going to Fiji?
Camaron Brooks is a mother of two energetic little ones. She loves her family, coffee, writing, reading, and getting outdoors. She’s inspired to live her best life through mindfulness, gratitude and impromptu dance parties in her living room. She’s the author of Reporting Live From Studio B: Lessons and Reflections Found on My Journey from Striving TV Reporter to Struggling New Mom. She chronicles her sometimes hilarious first year as a mom, reflects on her time working as a reporter and offers a takeaway, affirmation or set of questions after each chapter to help other moms embrace the journey. Her book is ranked in the Top 500 in the Amazon Kindle Store in the Religion & Spirituality, Personal Growth, and Family Section.