The policing of screen time is not only controlling what we should do with our children’s every waking moments, but it is now placing judgments on our time as parents as well.
We are now being told that we, as mothers, are spending too much time on our computers or phones, and not enough time being “present.”
While to a certain extent I agree with the research that shows that screen time is changing us and our relationships, I have to wonder how harmful it really is when it comes to mindful mothering. I feel that ironically, my phone has made me more mindful.
For me, I see my phone as a small camera that can help me break up the day into moments. Teeny snap shots of what has been so far a journey of almost 3 years as a mother with the sweet little one I share this journey with.
As a full time parent, the days occasionally all blend into one. When you care deeply about parenting and choose to be the one who parents your child, basic day to day care can become an especially draining responsibility. Every tantrum can feel like a failure, every ignored and rejected organic meal a slap in the face and every sleepless night like a personal assault on your senses.
However, taking pictures of the joys, the victories, the smiles, the sweet moments that make this journey the most magical one I have ever been on—that is part of what makes the day bearable.
Capturing my toddler blow a dandelion and watching the seeds spread. Looking at him, yes, through a camera, climb to the top of the jungle gym for the first time. Noticing and documenting the sweetness and sharing these moments with the people who love us is how we get by. It is how many moms get by. Looking at these moments for what they are—temporary moments—and documenting them makes me entirely present. It makes me notice more fully the aquamarine blue of my son’s eyes, the cornsilk of his long hair, the warm sun shining the perfect light through the trees, the brightness of wild flowers and the stickiness of melted ice cream. There I am grateful, amazed and enlightened by the life we share and the gift of motherhood.
It is easy to sit back at the end of the day and wonder “What I have actually done.” The same toys have been spilled out and put away repeatedly, and the kitchen and all of its dishes have been dirtied and cleaned at least three times. The laundry, while it endlessly cycles through, looks like an immovable mountain of work. I may dwell on the moment in the supermarket when my son loudly demanded to eat entire watermelon before we had gotten home to cut it, and I wished I could melt into the cool tile floor of the produce section.
I may think about how tired I am, and how hard this really is. But looking back through my phone—yes the evil screen—and seeing all the moments that were so lovely and magical that we have shared brings me back to reality.
It reminds me that the hard parts, the tough parts and the embarrassing parts are not everything.
The moments we laugh and he says the things that amaze and amuse me, those are the ones I want to hang on to. And I can, because I have the images locked in time to remind me of what our day really was. To remind me of the moments where I was fully there, and fully grateful and enjoying his toddlerhood and my gratitude to be there in it.
Personally, I will not apologize for not being present as a parent. I am as present as I can possibly be. I wonder how often people who work in an office are present, or any job for that matter. It is an unrealistic expectation that have been put on mothers lately, and sometimes we put it on ourselves. However, the use of technology, and specially phones, has been the thing that makes me most present and grateful.
Yes, for some it may be the very force that pulls you away, but for me it pulls me closer, eager to document and experience every fleeting moment that I can.
Author: Logan Kinney
Editor: Alli Sarazen
Photo: Jenny Downing/Flickr