These Hours

I asked if she did her homework. It was close to bedtime.

“Yes, I did.”

“All of it?”

“Yes.”

“I didn’t see you do it.”

“Because you’re always on the computer.”

Or looking at my phone. It’s the truth. I admitted to my husband that I hide from the kids, tapping away at my laptop in the kitchen, accomplishing close to nothing most afternoons. Because it’s stressful to be with them sometimes. In the morning I scroll through Facebook while they fight about whose shirt that is and who picked what movie last.

I’m avoiding a lot of my life while looking through everyone else’s. And my kids are noticing. I’m noticing how distracted I am almost all the time. Not surprisingly, the more I am on the laptop or the phone, the more I want to be on the laptop or the phone. I’m like that.

These hours with them must not continue to be marked not by my semi-conscious, reluctant presence. These hours belong to them.

I have decided on some changes. Unless it cannot be put off, I will avoid texting and e-mailing if I am with the kids; I won’t check my phone for social media while I am with them; I will avoid posting pictures of them while I’m with them (because I will just want to check back); and I won’t spend the afternoon on the laptop, repeating “give me five minutes,” as they come in to ask me questions, or to just be near me. And I get irritated by that because “I’m in the middle of something”: a phrase I’ve now heard them repeat.

The hours that they are in school go by quickly, and I am tired when they are in bed, but I’m embarrassed that I’ve been asked by my five-year-old son to “stop looking at the phone, mommy” on more than one occasion. Once, he wanted me to look at a superhero on a television show. It wasn’t important to me. It was to him.

My five-year-old daughter brings me drawings while I’m working at the computer, and it takes everything I have sometimes to turn away from the screen and acknowledge her.

These are not moments of which I am proud. And I’m saying they are real so that I can start making them better.

I would rather they see me reading a book or magazine while they play, than mesmerized by images on a smart phone. I have been using my phone for “notes” related to my writing; I am using a notebook more now. My oldest has her own special notebook; I’m happy to have her watch me write in mine.

Wish me luck. And if you need me during these hours, you will have to wait.

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11 Responses to These Hours

  1. You are right! Social media is extremely distracting, leaving one with little time to pay attention or to think.

  2. kristrange says:

    Good luck! I still have nap time as me time but that will soon disappear and I will have to become more creative.

  3. adkamanda says:

    I get this. It’s a heavy pendulum, but I have faith that you’ll find your rhythm.

    • thank you! yes, moderation is key–I have a hard time with moderation in general. I am all or nothing with a lot of things. At least until I work it out. I struggled just to get through one afternoon when I KNEW I couldn’t be on FB when I wanted to. But I was less angry at the kids at bedtime. I think it may be related.

  4. aviets says:

    Good for you! I hope you realize you’re not alone – I think all moms feel that need to get away and have some “me time” and end up feeling selfish. But your resolution is a good one! :) -Amy

    • thank you! Yes, we all need “me time” for sure! I need to be careful that I don’t use my phone to numb out though. I often don’t even know what I’ve been looking at for 10 minutes…

  5. Pingback: Putting Down the Phone to Face Life | Mama Healthy

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