The importance of being present


I’ve seen this posted on many of my friend’s Facebook pages the last several weeks.  I’m unsure of the origin or I would give the original author credit.  All I know is that this is a reminder to all of us to be in the moment and to always be present.  I struggle with this balancing act.  We all do.  But, I try to be present when I’m with my son, my family, my students and my colleagues.  I try to model what it means to be present.  Just because I have a device in my pocket that connects instantaneously to the world, doesn’t mean that I should break eye contact and check my device every time it buzzes or beeps.  Nothing is more important than the face to face moments we encounter everyday.  So, try to walk away from your device and don’t let it control you.  Be conscious and be present.

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Dear Mom On the iPhone,

I see you over there on the bench, messing on your iPhone. It feels good to relax a little while your kids have fun in the sunshine, doesn’t it? You are doing a great job with your kids, you work hard, you teach them manners, have them do their chores.

But Momma, let me tell you what you don’t see right now…..

Your little girl is spinning round and round, making her dress twirl. She is such a little beauty queen already, the sun shining behind her long hair. She keeps glancing your way to see if you are watching her.

You aren’t.

Your little boy keeps shouting, “Mom, MOM watch this!” I see you acknowledge him, barely glancing his way.

He sees that too. His shoulders slump, but only for a moment, as he finds the next cool thing to do.

Now you are pushing your baby in the swing. She loves it! Cooing and smiling with every push. You don’t see her though, do you? Your head is bent, your eyes on your phone as you absently push her swing.

Talk to her. Tell her about the clouds, Mommy. The Creator who made them. Tickle her tummy when she comes near you and enjoy that baby belly laugh that leaves far too quickly.

Put your eyes back on your prize…Your kids.

Show them that they are the priority. Wherever you are, be ALL there. I am not saying it’s not ok to check in on your phone, but it’s a time-sucker: User Beware!

Play time at the park will be over before you know it.

The childhood of your children will be gone before you know it.

They won’t always want to come to the park with you, Mommy. They won’t always spin and twirl to make their new dress swish, they won’t always call out, “WATCH ME!”

There will come a point when they stop trying, stop calling your name, stop bothering to interrupt your phone time.

Because they know…

You’ve shown them, all these moments, that the phone is more important than they are. They see you looking at it at while waiting to pick up brother from school, during playtime, at the dinner table, at bedtime…..

I know that’s not true, Mommy.

I know your heart says differently.

But your kids can’t hear your words, Mommy. Your actions are screaming way too loudly.

May our eyes rest upon those we love, first and foremost, and may everything else fall away in the wonderful, noisy, sticky-fingered glory of it all.

 

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4 comments

  • I really enjoyed this article. It is so true and everyone is guilty of it. It is almost second nature to look at your phone when you hear the phone buzz, or to be constantly checking the time. From your iPhone, you can talk to all friends and family, check your e-mail, browse on Facebook, etc. It is incredible to think about. However, you don’t want to miss actual life getting lost in your phone. There is definitely a balance that everyone needs to reach. How to reach that balance is the question though that everyone is trying to answer. I know that it is something even I need to work on.

  • I have not seen this little post yet, and I completely agree with it. I think that in today’s society people are way too obsessed with their phones and are too glued to them. I can’t tell you how many times I try to have a conversation in person with a friend or walk into a room of friends and everyone is sitting next to each other with their phone out, not talking. I’m not saying that I have never done this, I am guilty of it too, but I am becoming more and more conscious of not doing this. Too often I think people are too worried about creating this “immortal” Twitter or Facebook post, or taking a picture and putting it on Instagram, and they forget to live in the moment and really enjoy what is happening around them. People forget to live in the present and to engage face to face with one another, and it is really a sad thing to see. I can only hope that after reading this post, other people will have the same response that I did-time to put down that phone and live in the present and to give your full attention to those around you.

  • Jennifer Lonergan

    I agree completely with this letter. I have many friends who have parents like that and they are constantly fighting to get their parents attention. It is almost like they have to fight for their parents love and affection, a never ending battle between the kids and the iPhone. Sure, the mom will say that she pays attention and looks up sometimes, but whenever she does it is only for a few minutes, then she picks up her phone again to read the newest tweet, or even to just scroll through old ones. I am worried that one day I will become this way…so I try to always keep my phone away when I am with others. In order to stop myself from becoming technology dependent, I have gotten into the habit of leaving my phone at home instead of bringing it with me everywhere I go. People don’t need to hear from me every second of every day, and if it is really important they can find another way to impact me. I think other people should do this too. Pick either a certain time of day, or one day a week, and go completely without your phone. Take in the environment around you and really appreciate the world you live in. People need to learn not to be dependent on their own devices. We need to look up and live in the present. I wish I was the one who wrote the letter, but I wasn’t, and I commend whoever it was who did.

  • I think that this is completely true. I have taken walks to the park by my house and seen plenty of parents sitting on the bench on their phones. Those are the parents that think that since they are at the park with their children, they are already better parents than the ones that let their kids go alone, so they are entitled to check their phones, their twitters, their e-mails, and their facebooks to see what they have missed. I don’t have children, so I don’t know what it is like to have to try to balance work and raising your children along with trying to find time for yourself to relax, but I believe that sitting on your phone all the time is going to send your kids the message that you don’t really care, when that’s not true at all. I feel that the best thing to do is to focus all of your energy on your kids, and keep the phone in your pocket. You don’t have to return a text right away, and it’s not going to kill you if you let a message go to voice mail once in a while.

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