“Mommy? Oh. I’ll show you when you are done with your phone.”
The moment she said it, my heart sank. The moment after she said it, she moved on. I’ll never know, now, what she was going to tell me. It’s gone.
The worst part is not that she wanted to tell me something and I missed it. It’s not that I’ll never know. The honest truth is that she has something to tell me about a hundred times a day. I miss one here and there and that is life, we can’t catch them all and we can’t beat ourselves up about every one that falls at our feet. I catch a bunch. I listen a lot.
The worst part is not that what took precedence in that moment was a completely insignificant voicemail that I could have listened to hours, even days later. I had no idea, until I listened, whether that message was left by a doctor or an editor or a potential client. That it was left by the toy store, notifying us that the craft she had made there was ready to be picked up, is just circumstantial.
The worst part is that I had promised myself that I’d keep my phone away. I had promised myself that I wouldn’t miss a moment that morning. I had promised myself that I’d be there, without distraction, wholly and completely present. I had reminded myself that what was most significant in that moment was her and the plans we had for the morning and that anything that she wanted to say or do or be should come before anything that might try to sneak through on my phone. The worst part is that, within minutes, I had already failed.
Earlier this year, I made a resolution to go Hands Free and grasp what really matters. I resolved to put my phone away when I’m with my family, to be distraction free. To stop rushing and multitasking and to just be with my people. I didn’t want my relationships to suffer because I needed to see the latest email to hit my inbox or read the latest response to my tweet. I didn’t want to seek Likes over Love.
But I’ve been failing.
I have a boatload of excuses, of course. I work for myself now. I need to be connected. I need to be responsive. I need to be present and here so that people will come and my work and opportunity and business will grow. And then, of course, there are his needs–speech therapists and doctors appointments and forms to fill out and activities to research. And her with school and friends, parties and playdates, activities and classes. My phone is what keeps me on top of all of these things, moving us all up and onward. Getting us there on time and with the right materials. I’ve told myself that I am doing this for us. That I need to be connected so that we achieve what we want to achieve, individually and as a family.
But that’s all just a bunch of excuses.
I’ve failed only because I’ve stopped trying. Because it is oh so easy to swipe my finger across the screen of my phone and dive into that virtual world when I think nobody is looking. I’ve stopped focusing on the people in front of me. And I’ve stopped focusing on my work. Even when I’m alone, my devices and social media and email and the latest shiny thing to call out from the periphery, pull me away from what I really need to be doing.
It feels worse the longer it goes on.
I wish I could say that stops today. That as I sit here and type, I’m wholly focused on these words and this moment. That when I’m done working today, I’ll put it all away and forget it while I focus on the humans around me. But after 10 months of this, I know it just isn’t that easy. It’s a process. It’s a journey. All I can do is recommit everyday to get back to it. To recommit. To do my best. To keep trying. Keep trying to conquer my distractions.
Over the weekend, my friend Rachel’s Hands Free Revolution Facebook page was hacked. Some horrible people took over and posted awful things. I worried about her and I missed her. Her words and stories and encouragement keep me going and remind me what is important in this life. They remind me that the time I spend looking into three pairs of deep brown eyes today not only warm my heart today but lay the groundwork for a beautiful future of close and loving relationships.
Thankfully, goodness once again prevailed over evil and Rachel got back in control. If nothing else, that she was able to beat back the hackers and come back better than before reminds me that I can do this. I can conquer.
If you haven’t already liked her page, or if you left over the weekend because of the awful hackers, please go now and bring her inspiring words into your world.