comeuppance

  • Mar 1, 2011
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type, type, type– backspace, correct– type, type… send! Phew, I solved that problem pretty early on a Monday morning.

But as I turned away from the computer, Xander stood behind me fuming– “I’ve asked you the same question seven times and you’ve completely ignored me!”

Shamed, I begged him to repeat his request just one more time, but he was overcome with frustration and ran up the stairs.

With a heavy heart, I trudged upstairs and turned the corner into his room. His bed was empty, but I heard a sniffling from the closet where he sat on the top shelf– “It’s like talking to a wall,” he reprimanded, “aren’t I more important than your stupid email?”

*****

Just last night we’d discussed a story on NPR where a psychologist lamented the failing social skills of teenagers as a result of texting, tweeting and Facebook. Because picking on teenagers is one of my pet peeves, I asked, “What about adults who are addicted to their phones and computers? I don’t think it’s just teenagers who have a problem.”

“You’re right,” Erik agreed, “and that was the second part of the conversation. She talked about how parents are losing important communication opportunities because of technology. When interviewed, teenagers said they hated when their parents were on the phone in the car, when they interrupted a conversation to reply to a text, and they were especially hurt when their parents were on the computer when they were leaving or coming home from school.”

All eyes swung toward me and I said, “Yeah, I’ve been guilty of all those behaviors; I’ll try to do better.”

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a snow arch on the front porch– I have no idea why

And I meant to, I really did. But I also have a goal of replying to emails as soon as I read them. Because I’m a scatterbrained sort of girl and a truly terrible typist (I blame that on my childhood dyslexia), answering email is a real struggle for me. I feel a true sense of satisfaction when I reply quickly and without any typos.

But the truth is, reading my email can wait, replying to that urgent text can wait– for centuries humans have managed life without instant communication. Even two years ago, my cell phone was just a useful luxury rather than an extension of my right arm.

And these people, my adorable husband and children, they deserve my full attention. How much longer will Xander want to chat with me in the mornings? If I don’t change, he’ll simply stop talking.

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Three Stories You Can Read to Your Cat

I don’t want my children to remember me with my back towards them, staring at the computer screen.

And I do have the time, once my children are at school or sometimes in the late afternoon, to answer emails, process photos, makes witty replies on your latest blog post…but my time with my children is precious, fleeting and almost over.

I want to do better. I apologized to Xander repeatedly, but actions speak louder than words. And this is motherhood, this is life– stumbling, falling, and climbing back up to be just a little better today than the day before.

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February 24, 2011
March 3, 2011

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18 Comments

  1. Reply

    Hot Hot JJ

    March 1, 2011

    Beautiful post. I agree with everything. I have been known to pick up my phone to read a quick blog post or check my email.

    I finally decided to quit Twitter. It was eating up too much time and was just useless. Glad I did it!

  2. Reply

    jenjamin

    March 1, 2011

    Quite raw and transparent. I appreciate your reminder and your honesty. Something most are all guilty of but I have had to set boundaries too. Even though I feel like now days my blogging and writing has taken a very comfortable back seat to other things….I still enjoy it though. I have a sincere love hate relationship with technology and it drives me crazy but I am not innocent. I am haunted with the idea that one day… “my not so baby anymore” babies will no longer ask for my attention. I refuse to to accept that and feel much like you. I just work everyday to try a little harder to be a little better… in every way. There is always more room for genuine attention and love to those we love most. Thanks for your post as always!

  3. Reply

    FoxyJ

    March 1, 2011

    I have had the same problem with my kids. I teach as an adjunct and do need to check my email during the day to keep up with my students since that’s really my only communication with them. But, I’ve found that my work tends to be much more focused when I give it my full attention, and my kids are happier when I give them my full attention. There are times in the day for both. Our home office is in the basement and I’ve found it much easier to ignore the computer when I leave it downstairs out of the way.

  4. Reply

    Lisa

    March 1, 2011

    Guilty as charged myself!

    But not right now, as the teenager is at school…lol! I often look at those families who choose to go technology free for 6 months, and know that I’d probably be just as lost as anyone, without my own blogging, texting, etc. What a great post to remind us all of boundaries!

  5. Reply

    Mitchell Family

    March 1, 2011

    So true. We’ve all had those missed moments. Kids really want us there at the crossroads. Love Xander’s costume. Keep us in mind when he outgrows it. As you know I’m closely related to a growing King Arthur.

  6. Reply

    Christie

    March 1, 2011

    Tragic irony: Reading a beautiful post on the struggles of giving your children your undivided attention whilst ignoring your children. 🙂 Oops.

    I am so guilty of this. I try not to, but some days I know I’m a total fail. Thanks for the reminder.

  7. Reply

    Anne Marie

    March 1, 2011

    Beautiful and insightful. Yes, we are all guilty of this at times. Just today, I was chanting to myself….”stay immersed in the REAL world….not the virtual” over and over again. That balance will look different for different women at different points in their lives. But, yes, the real human being right in front of you is far more important than anyone else out there.

    Alone Together is a relatively new book that discusses the isolating electronic devices in our lives. Fascinating and made me really think. Especially after my 13-year-old told me that his deacon’s quorom adviser was playing “angry birds” for at least half the lesson on Sunday….something is truly wrong with our attention spans if we cannot even focus for 30 minutes.

  8. Reply

    Anne Marie

    March 1, 2011

    Haha! Sorry. I had time to go back to the NPR story link and saw that the book I recommended was right there at the top of the page. Yes, I totally recommend the book. And, I am trying to figure out how to go through my own detox of technology while still being relatively normal in how I communicate with friends and family. Thanks!

  9. Reply

    La Yen

    March 2, 2011

    Every single post makes me love you more.

  10. Reply

    Azúcar

    March 2, 2011

    Now that I work 100% from home, this is such a struggle: being present for both things at once.

    My oldest and I have had a few conversations about why I’m at the computer more than I used to be. I explained that I don’t have to go to an office anymore, but I do have to work at home, and that means being on the computer. This is a tough concept for him. I asked if he’d rather I was back in an office for part of the day, and he agreed that this arrangement was preferable. He’d still rather I devoted all my time to him, but we can’t financially do that. That’s another conversation we sometimes have–why mommy has to work at all.

    Ugh.

    Trying to find that balance between the work I need to do to feed them, and being present to “feed” them.

  11. Reply

    Kristin

    March 2, 2011

    Honest and thoughtful post. I needed this reminder.

  12. Reply

    GeorgiaBecksteads

    March 2, 2011

    Made me think about where I am when the kids come home from school.
    I love the bare feet in the snow.

  13. Reply

    The Planet Pink

    March 2, 2011

    Guilty. I’m terribly, horribly guilty of this. But tomorrow is a new day, with no mistakes in it. Maybe it’s time to have a day with no computer too…

  14. Reply

    Michelle

    March 2, 2011

    stop e-mailin my mama
    j.k.
    -Hans(not michelle)

  15. Reply

    Cheryl

    March 2, 2011

    Loved it. Needed it. Thank you!

  16. Reply

    Alyson (New England Living)

    March 2, 2011

    This is what we all need to hear! Thank you, thank you! Our time with our kids still in our home is so short and so precious. Computers, on the other hand, will always be here and they don’t grow or move out of the house. They can wait. Wonderful post!

    P.S. You can come stay with me in Boston anytime! xx

  17. Reply

    chococatania

    March 2, 2011

    I’m totally guilty of this. thanks for the reminder.

  18. Reply

    Adri

    March 3, 2011

    I’ve been thinking about these EXACT same things lately. A few days ago I re-read a journal entry from 2 years ago where I told myself I needed to make comings and goings more important, listen with my ‘eyes’ when my children were talking to me, etc. 2 years…not sure I’ve improved, but I’m grateful for the reminder from myself and from you!

    P.S. LOVE all those to-die-for pics of your missionary.

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