Something interesting happened to me this week; my iPhone stopped working.
It was on Thursday, New Year’s Day, and one minute it was sending and receiving texts (despite being shattered and an eyesore) and the next minute the screen became completely dysfunctional. I could not use it at all, which meant that I could not swipe the screen to unlock my phone, as I watched the growing number of text messages that were coming in.
If this were a year ago, I think I would have had a panic attack at best or, more likely, a nuclear meltdown. I used to be very dependent on my phone, as it was my lifeline to the world (I thought).
Instead, I sent emails to the people with whom I was communicating, just so they would know I wasn’t ignoring their messages, and powered the thing down.
I made an appointment at the Apple store for late in the day Friday, but because I ended up being sick, I could not go. I made an appointment for Saturday afternoon, so that my husband could handle it for me. And on Friday, my friends helped me by taking care of my kids, my husband worked a full work day and, amazingly, I was still able to communicate with them, as well as the doctor whom I called, the nurse who called me back with advice, the pharmacy and several other people via email. I am someone with separation anxiety, so the idea of not being able to communicate with loved ones is a very scary one for me, but we found ways.
So, yesterday, my husband gave my phone to the people at Apple and they said it should be ready by 5pm. But guess what? We didn’t go out to pick it up. We will go at some point today.
That is right; I deliberately chose not to run for my phone the moment that it was ready for me;
Let me tell you why.
There were many times in the past few days when I have wanted to reach out to people quickly and easily, or snap a picture or log in to my Instagram; but instead of experiencing my children from behind the lens of my semi-decent 5c camera, I just lived with them. I savored the cute moments, and got used to watching them, as opposed to snapping their picture, editing it with the right filter and posting it for my friends (or the world) to see.
I was much more present.
While my friends spent time at my house, I did not think about how snap a photo of my daughter cuddling under the covers with our guest; I watched them, and smiled, and felt happy.
When my husband and I watched TV, I wasn’t busy looking down, responding to emails and checking newsfeeds.
Please do not let this come off as holier than thou. I will be picking up my iPhone in a matter of hours and I’m sure that I will go back into the fray, but I have to be honest; I found being phoneless extremely liberating.
Anyone who really needed me knew how to reach me. I wasn’t beholden to any thing.
This really struck me, as think I enjoyed the faces of my friends and family a little more this weekend.
Just this morning, I held my son as he fed himself his morning milk. He tried to find a position in which he could access the milk flow, but also nuzzle into me. My son, who is usually moving at a mile a minute, wanted to get close to me, and although that may seem like a given for most people, it is not for me.
Recently I wrote about adding our son to our family, and the love we all have for him. Just last night I was talking to my husband about it, as the combination of not having a phone and spending a couple of days in bed has given me a lot more time to think and reflect. I was thinking about that thing that people always say, about how they didn’t know how they could possibly have any more love, but then, as soon as their next child was born, their hearts grew instantly. It’s like a thing.
But for me, I have to be honest, I don’t feel that way. I don’t feel as though I now have more love than I did before.
Please do not misinterpret me. I love and cherish my son; I find him to be extremely cute and silly and loving and hilarious and he has taught me to be stronger and braver than I ever thought possible.
But, as I said to my husband last night, I feel like the love for him was always there, in me. It was just waiting for him. My heart did not grow when he was born; he just filled the space that it had reserved for his presence.
I know this is an odd perspective on things, and I can assure you with great confidence that I do not have less love in me than others; in fact, I have been told that I am a walking heart, brimming with love.
I think that I feel emotions more deeply than the majority of others. I don’t wish to sound cliched or insincere, but it is definitely a blessing and a curse to feel the amount of passion and adoration and intensity that I do, as there is a flip side, where my lows can get pretty low. I am sensitive, get hurt easily and deeply and hold onto pain that perhaps others can compartmentalize or shed.
The way I felt this morning, when my son tried to find my nook in which to rest his head…
I don’t even have the worst to describe the swell I feel inside my chest right now.
After finishing his milk, he and his sister played a little bit with some toys, before discovering an enormous cardboard delivery box in our entry way (our Amazon subscription fulfilment) and they crawled in an did all of the things that children do with a cardboard box. They had the best time together, squealing with laughter. And I didn’t even think to reach for my phone to snap a picture of their cuteness. I just watched, savoring this moment, branding it to my memory.
Now, I am guilty of sitting in front a screen while my children play. In fact, my daughter asked what I was doing and I said, “I am blogging.” and she said, “Oh. Mommy, Ever After?” as I recently explained to her what it is that I do.
But I have put down the laptop several times to watch them, to answer their questions, and to thank my daughter when she walked past me and said, “You look very beautiful. Well, you are my mom.”
I am going to try to be better about this moving forward, as I will certainly feel the itch to snap and share once I have my phone back (though J and my husband have decided that I am strictly forbidden from using my phone until it has one of those crazy, bulky protective cases).
Now, this is in direct conflict with the blog and brand I am trying to build; I constantly need to snap featured images for my posts, and sometimes that takes time, as you may have noticed, on my public site and Instagram account I do not post photos of their faces, but instead, they are a bit hidden.
(By the way, I realize that I broke my cardinal rule in the featured photo of myself of my site, as I asked the tech people at Brand Revive if they could “please Photoshop out the baby from that picture?”, which I guess they could not, as there is a baby on my lap, but you don’t know if that is my baby or a stunt baby, so I feel a bit less disloyal to myself.)
But I am going to try to snap the cute or funny or powerful photos when I see the moments happening, and then put down the phone. I can edit them later. They can wait to be posted.
I said that I was going to strive to be a better person, and while I am not attaching any value judgement to the use of smartphones and screens in child rearing, for me, I truly am not, I know that for me, personally, I am able to be more attentive when I am not trying to type and post.
And on that note, my kids are playing together with a cardboard princess castle and I am going to sit on the floor and join them, with my lap top closed and put away.
And since I typed that last sentence, they started to fight over the castle.
But this is life, folks. And I have to live it.
No. Let me correct that.
I want to.