The Red Blinking Light

Up until a few years ago, I was a Blackberry devotee.  I found the keypad much easier to work with, especially since I often had long emails to write while on the run.  I could type a mile a minute and do it without bumping into walls.  After all, it was important that I worked at maximum efficiency because I had two little people to tend to at home.

But here’s the thing, I didn’t turn off my phone when I walked in the door at the end of the day.  In the moment, it was easy to justify that the red blinking light which announced that I had a new e-mail was more important than what was going on at home.  And that may very well have been true…  But it couldn’t always be true.  If you strung together all of those red blinking lights, I couldn’t possibly justify that my phone was always more important.  But I usually did!

Fast forward a few years…  I had replaced my Blackberry with an iPhone.  And the red blinking light was replaced with a vibrating alert.  It wasn’t quite as noticeable, but I was still captive to my phone.

I have a story to share which won’t cast me in the best light as a parent.  But I will share it anyway…  A couple of years ago, I announced to my husband that I wanted to take the kids to New York City.  They were five years old at the time, and I felt that they were ready for a “big city” experience.  And I was right – it was a fabulous trip!  We walked and walked, saw the sites, and had wonderful meals.  It was magical!

Back to the bad Mommy moment…  We arrived in NYC on a Thursday night.  My husband had to work on the Friday which meant that I was on my own with the kids.  It was raining, so I knew that we had to have an inside day.  So I picked the Museum of Natural History.  The day started out well, but shortly into our tour, I received an urgent e-mail from work.  It required several e-mails and at least two phone calls to resolve.  I knew that I was pushing the limits with my kids.  They were growing more and more annoyed with me.  But it was work – what could I do?

To this day, when we talk about that trip to NYC, my son brings up the fact that I spent the entire time in the museum on my phone.  I look back at the trip and remember the Rockettes, the zoo, and FAO Schwarz.  And my son remembers that I ruined the Museum of Natural History with my e-mails and calls!

I realize that I have potentially painted myself as a horrible mother here…  And I hope that’s not true.  I love my children dearly and try very hard to live in the moment when I am with them.  But more often than I would like, the outside world creeps in.  While I acknowledge that this is going to happen from time to time, I certainly don’t want their most precious memories to include me AND my phone.

Now that I no longer have colleagues and clients to answer to, you’d think that it would be easy for me to put my phone away.  But some habits are hard to break.  My son has already started to ask when he can get his own phone (trust me when I tell you that at age seven, he has a LONG time to go).  But I want to make sure that when the day does come, he understands that the people in front of him will always be more important than the red blinking light.  But first, I have to walk the talk!  So, I’m working on putting my phone away and being fully present.

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