I read this article the other day about attachment parenting (if there’s one thing I like to do, it’s read articles about how my current actions are going to fuck up my kids later in life).
This article was long (and kind of boring, tbh) but it made me reflect on my own mothering. Here is where I land: I’m fun, I don’t yell, I enjoy their company, I talk to them a lot, I sing songs, I dance, I try very, very hard to not get frustrated, I know how to deflect and redirect like a champ, I give good hugs and kisses, I put together a mean puzzle.
But I’m distracted; a lot of the times, I’m not present for my kids.
By that, I mean, my body is with them but my head is totally somewhere else. Usually my iPhone.
I’m a voracious reader. The iPhone is probably the best thing to have happen to readers … and one of the worst because there is always something to read. And, well, parenting can be kind of boring. But your phone? Your phone is ALWAYS interesting.
I’ve always been like this. I come from a reading family. Every meal we ate together, we would all be reading between bites. Our favorite family activity was going to the beach…where we would read. At night, we would lounge around and read (after the nightly news). My parents had at least 18 monthly magazine subscriptions and had 2 daily newspaper subscriptions (WSJ and the local paper; with Sunday NY Times delivery). Every room in their house has a bookcase.
This is to say, my parents did a lot of parenting in between looking up from their books.
And I do the same, but it’s parenting between looking up from my phone.
My kids don’t know I’m just reading and not playing an app or watching a music video or shopping. They see me looking at my phone and not looking at them.
My kids need me to get on the floor with them. They need me to cuddle with them on the couch and actually watch Peppa Pig without reading my phone. I need to play with them in the morning without scanning the headlines.
So, here is what I’m doing.
Every morning I wake up, before I reach my phone, I say to myself, “I’m going to be a present and involved mother today.”
And you know, it’s working. It’s a simple, subtle shift, but it really helps.
Try it. Think about what you want to work on regarding your parenting and promise yourself in the morning that day is the day you are going to work on it. And try.
It’s not that hard to at least try.
I also think a lot about this image a friend shared the other day. The one character is definitely looking at Grindr (WHICH I AM NOT DOING. I SWEAR I AM READING THE TIMES AND NOT A GAY DATING WEBSITE) but the message remains the same.