We will take walks

| 22 Comments

We sat on a picnic blanket spread out on the front lawn, chatting and catching up, as our girls played next to us. Bubbles and chalk. Our summertime thing. The baby sat in my lap, reaching for blades of grass, undoubtedly wondering how they’d taste. The girls dashed across the lawn and back again. And we’d get in a sentence, maybe two, before a little girl voice would call for our attention and we’d turn to watch frog jumps across the lawn or mediate a discussion about who gets the cupcake chalk (clearly the favorite of all of the dessert-shaped chalks).

And across the street, our neighbor and her teenaged daughter walked out of their house. They waved to us and we waved back. And we watched them begin their journey down the hill together.

“When I see the two of them, it gives me hope.” she said.,

I nodded emphatically in agreement. Yes. Hope.

walking with baby

Hope that, ten years from now, when the chalk and bubbles have long been put away, replaced by cell phones and homework and friends with parties and all of the other things that little ones grow into as they wander through the tweens and teens, that we, too, might take walks. Mama and child. And that, in the quiet of our peaceful streets, we’ll talk. Connect. Continue building this relationship that we dream of. Make it real.

I think of this often. Picture this future relationship with my kids. One in which they want to spend time with me. Walking. Talking. Unembarrassed. Phones away. Conversations with friends on hold. Sharing with me everything from their hopes and dreams to what they had for lunch. The moments of their days.

we will take walks

And it’s easy to sit here, with my four-year-old girl, the one who begins every other sentence with “Mommy,…” and believe that our future will play out just so.

But, then, it’s also easy to imagine the opposite. That my girl will develop into the girl in front of me in line at Starbucks. Cell phone in hand, fingers flying furiously. Barely time for a passing glance when her mother arrives next to her to join her in line. Clear irritation. Much eye-rolling.

It’s easy to imagine because sometimes my girl has whipped out her pretend cell phone and talked about all of the ‘texts’ she’s received on it.

Sometimes she has placed it next to us as we bake muffins. Or play a game. Sometimes she has ‘checked it’ as we read a book.

Sometimes we have had to talk about a ‘no-phones-at-dinner’ rule. And then we’ve had to put ours away too.

Sometimes I hear her say something and I know it is something important. And I miss the moment because I’m up to my ears in an email.

Sometimes she starts to tell me something, and instead of pausing and listening and responding, I close the car door on her words so I can rush to my seat and keep us moving.

Sometimes I tell her to hurry up. Get dressed. Get your shoes on. Stop dilly-dallying.

Sometimes I say just-a-minute. And then I say it again. And again. Until those minutes form an hour and she has long since moved on, the picture she wanted me to see sitting, forgotten.

Sometimes, I am missing her.

walking with little girl and daddy

These days, she comes back. Asks again. Tries again. But someday, she won’t. Someday soon she won’t try to get my attention. Won’t feel she deserves it. Won’t want it or think she needs it. Soon she’ll find herself in a world of distractions of her own. Soon she’ll miss my words, her head bent over a real phone with real texts. Soon she’ll walk away when I am mid-sentence. Soon she will tell me to hurry up, wanting to leave my side and be with her friends as quickly as her feet can carry her.

Soon, she will be me. And this is not the me I want her to be.

Sooner than soon, I must change my ways.

~~~~~

This post was inspired by an exercise in Hands Free Mama: A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-Do List, and Letting Go of Perfection to Grasp What Really Matters!. The exercise, in Chapter 7, is called: Envision Future Relationships.

This year, I made a resolution to join my friend Rachel on a Hands Free journey. To let go of distraction and grasp what really matters. At the top of my list of resolutions this year, I wrote that I will put away my cell phone when I am with my family. And I shared it with my girl. I told her that she could help me by calling me out when she sees my hands wrapped around my phone when I should be playing with her and her brother. And call me out she does.

And there is more to this journey than breaking the hold my phone has over me. And this journey will be long. And hard. And riddled with pitfalls and stumbles and moments that make me cringe. And cry. Because now that I have had my eyes opened to all that I am missing, it hurts me more when I realize what I’ve missed (and still miss).

But it is worth it.

Because by committing to this journey, I will help to mold our future relationship. By committing to this journey, I am marking my calendar, in pen, for the days ten years from now when we will take walks.

baby and me walking holding hands

22 Comments

  1. I do cry if I think too much about it. My daughter has a toy laptop and she “does work” and “writes emails.”
    There are things I can never give up. I work on a computer, as a writer and photographer. It’s the iPhone thing that really..needs to be moderated. Big time.
    Thank you for this.
    Tamara recently posted..This Is My Life.My Profile

  2. I am so guilty of this. We actually have designated “no cell phone hours” at home. But you know what? It works! I will fight for that time as much as I need to – and “ground myself” as much as I need to in order to save that face time with my kids and friends. And I too hope I get to take walks with my kids – unembarrassed – until they are much older. And I hope the same for you.
    Ilene recently posted..Saying Goodbye to the Skull CapMy Profile

  3. I am ashamed to say that I was on my cell phone almost the entire dinner hour tonight. My husband kindly kept asking if I had seen this or that….new things that my child was accomplishing. I am ashamed to say that my answer was No. I did not see this or that. I was too busy checking emails. I was too busy checking facebook. I have often thought of trading my phone in for an old school flip phone. I have thought seriously about it. I am thinking even harder now.

  4. Beautiful… As the mom of a teenage daughter I have to say, I miss the little, but I really love a lot of these moments too! The journey, the journey is a good one.
    Misty recently posted..A note from the inside…My Profile

  5. This resonates even with the childless among us, like myself. Despite my gratitude for the fact that my niece and nephews ( 20 months, 8, 9, 11, 14, and 15) seek me out, I sometimes feel the itch to check my phone the minute there’s a lull in the action or a moment of boredom with them. I don’t always manage to stop myself. Maybe keeping this post in mind will help.
    MizYank recently posted..It’s In the MailMy Profile

    • This is so true! It’s like that phone now takes care of the awkward silence in a conversation, instead of using that silence for another purpose or simply to enjoy it.

  6. The emails and Facebook feeds and even blog comments? They’ll be there, indefinitely. The moment my girls want to tell me about something at school or practice or even one of their annoying Disney kids shows will not always be here, and I find myself conscious of this.

    I try to fold my hands and turn toward them when they talk, because if they say something to some dumb boy someday, he’d better well put away his phone and listen, right?
    Eli@coachdaddy recently posted..Guest Post: Dana of Kiss My List, on Greatest Fears of MotherhoodMy Profile

  7. I replay our conversation every time I see those same neighbors strolling together. There are few things I feel as if I’m more committed to and hope that we’re both on the path to making it a reality for us and our daughters (and son!).

    Your post is such a good reminder though, since I know I’m so guilty of checking that iPhone every 5minutes…and it’s really not necessary. There’s a quote floating out there somewhere, probably found it on Pinterest, along the lines of “If you don’t listen to them talk about the little stuff now, how do you expect them to talk with you about the big stuff when they’re older? Because, to them, it’s always been big stuff.”

    When you see me with my phone in hand, unless I’m taking a picture, remind me to put it down and focus on the now!

  8. Oh Tricia. I feel this so much too. I so want to take those walks with my boys in 10 years and talk and connect. But I do feel and see the impact of my distractedness, my hurry-upness and all of it has on our relationships yet why is it so hard to stop? I do love that you are doing this and I know that it’s something that I need to do too. I’m better than before but I know that there’s a long way to go.
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..Laws of MotionMy Profile

  9. Your words are so true they sting. I have long felt the same way, writing about it over in my own blog and recently discovering Rachel at Hands Free Mama. My five year old needs me now, not when I’m finally ready. I have an oldest son who will be a teenager in a few days, and he is the proof I need as a reminder for how fast life moves from chalk drawings to video games and hangouts with friends. My hope is that I can focus on reconnecting our hearts before its too late. Great read and wonderful reminder. ~Best

  10. Humbling, important. Thank you for the million and one emotions I felt reading this.

    (Truly, thank you.)
    Galit Breen recently posted..The good stuff right hereMy Profile

  11. Beautiful!! It is wild the hold the devices can have. I too have battled it. I wrote about my action plan at http://www.rudeysroom.com. It is called Digital Detox. Because as you said, relationships later are hinged on what we are building now. Thanks for sharing your touching story.

  12. I am at that ten years from now, and my daughter and I do take walks and talk. Unplugged. But I need to do better, too. When my kids come in to ask me a question or talk to me, I close my laptop or my phone. I actually just did it as I was typing this comment. Thanks for reminding me that I need to do that!
    Dana recently posted..My outside heartsMy Profile

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  14. I want to print out a million copies of this & plaster them around my house as a constant reminder. My daughters are far more important than any text, email, or comment will ever be. I know this, but sometimes I need to show it better.
    Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama recently posted..Reverse Bucket ListMy Profile

  15. When my oldest left for college 3 yrs ago I felt ike I had run out of time. That I had not taught her everything I wanted or needed to. She still seeks me out for advice so the teaching continues and we have a good relationship.
    My youngest leaves for college in the fall. We were tight when she was younger but around 8 or so I began to loose her. Over the past few years I have tried to change the way talk t her and how much I talk to her. Less seems to be better. I have also found that I need tochose my moments. Dinner time is one of the few with her when she does not have her earbuds in so I try to connect with her then and linger over dinner as much as possible.

    They grow up quickly and the relationship changes. It drives me crazy when I see parents walking with their kids and the parent is on their phone. They are missing their child’s questions and ramblings. Those are precious. What you buddy had for lunch is trivial.
    imarunner recently posted..New Themes: Bushwick, Syntax, McKinley, Moka, GalleryMy Profile

  16. Oh this is SO BEAUTIFUL!!! i love this messag Tricia! And Hands Free Mama? I am just now learning about her and her incredible mission….

    I’m IN!! Your words always always capture my heart. XO
    Chris Carter recently posted..This Is How God Works: Part 3My Profile

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