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.”
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.
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.