Mothers have been card carrying members of the Professional Multitasking Society since the beginning of time. As a child, I remember watching my own mom in action: body agile as she twisted around the mile long cord from our beige landline. That woman never met a tangle she couldn’t handle. She could HOLD DOWN a phone conversation using the ninety-degree neck tilt while she mopped AND WAXED the kitchen floor. She’d do all the this while also scrounging the junk drawer for a pen and motioning violently for me and my brothers to stay off the floor. I can still see her mouthing the words, “GO AROUND!” as we were chronically blind to her barricade of chairs. This woman could do ALL THE THINGS.
Except when she couldn’t. Because she wasn’t supposed to.
But there is a difference between my mother’s multitasking and mine because I am now mothering in the age of technology. Everything is at my fingertips on my handy, dandy iPhone. All multitasking (save mopping the floor, which, let’s be honest, doesn’t happen that often) is done from this one device. And when I am doing anything, I am also checking my phone.
If I’m watching TV, I’m also checking my phone.
If I’m stopped at a stoplight, I’m also checking my phone.
If I’m having lunch with my two adorable children, I’m also checking my phone.
It’s ridiculous how manically attached I’ve become to a device I did not possess four years ago.
Don’t get me wrong, there are many, many things I love about having a camera, a map, a calendar, social media, and google right at my finger tips. I’ve documented the whole of my children’s lives because of that thing. But what makes you good makes you bad. And, unfortunately, I am not immune to the bad taking over and ruining everything.
A few weeks ago, Joe and I were divvying up bedtime duties and it was my night to rock the baby. What should have been a precious 15 minutes of maternal attention and love, instead became, “Oh good, I can look at my phone. ” This was our routine forged in the wasteland of midnight feedings but now, my baby is no longer an infant, having his full faculties and awareness of all that is around him. A wave of guilt crashed against me: Will he remember these nights of me looking past his sleepy little face into the glowing bug-trap of my phone? What has this seemingly harmless act done to his little soul, his feelings of worthiness? How has my phone habits affected these little people whom I love more than life itself?
There are many things out of my control as a mother, but this one is literally within my grasp.
The other day, I mentioned to Joe that I wished we had a landline, an old school, beige, non-wireless, regular phone. I told him I wished there was a landline I can just stick my iPhone in to make it just be a phone. He laughed.
With that sentiment in mind, tomorrow I am going to do an experiment. I am going to treat my phone like a landline. I will have it plugged in all day to an outlet on my kitchen wall. I will not take it in the car with me. I will not move it to the couch in the evening when Joe and I veg out together and watch Shark Tank. I will not have it in my back pocket.
This means, if I want to check Facebook I will have to wait until Joe comes home with the computer. It means, that if you text or call me, it might take a bit to get back to you. It also means, if I get a flat tire, I will have to be resourceful and change it myself.
I will write about it here when I feel like the experiment has run it’s course. I may do it for a day and it may become a life-style. I don’t yet know.
But I do know this: I do not want my use of the phone to distract me from my life.
What makes you good, makes you bad. Tomorrow, I’m going to let the good win.