one thing at a time


Yesterday morning I stayed home with Maggie, to give her the one-on-one attention of which my third child has been so characteristically deprived. We sat down to play Zingo, a Bingo-like game featuring pictures instead of letters and numbers, and a really fun chunk-chunk piece distributor, that is Maggie’s obsession at the moment.

I was really patting myself on the back for giving my youngest this Special Mommy Time, and basking in the enjoyment of it, when Maggie clapped her little hands right in front of my face.

“Mommy! Come ON,” she said. I snapped out of my distraction, chagrined. I had not even realized that I WAS distracted, but I certainly was: I was sitting there with my iPhone texting my husband about what time he’d be home that night.

I mean, I wasn’t doing some Facebook quiz on what High School Musical character I was, or anything, but I was not giving my daughter my full attention. And the part that unsettled me was, I was not even aware I was doing it. I have become, in just a few years’ time, so accustomed to having one eye on a little screen most of the time. Even if my phone is in my pocket, I check for it furtively, making sure I haven’t left it somewhere, making sure it’s there to alert me when something interesting happens.

I love being in constant contact with the world. I hate that my daughter sees me unable to be in contact only with her, for more than a few minutes at a time. I wish Lent were closer. Since it’s not, I will probably not go cold turkey with the texting and the emailing, but I am going to make a concerted effort not to do it in front of my children. This is not how I want them to think a grownup has to behave. For ten minutes, playing Zingo, I should be able to do that one thing, and nothing else. My daughter needs that from me, and if it is as hard for me as I expect it to be, well then, I need it even more.