It wasn’t my proudest “Mommy moment.”
My eight-year-old daughter greeted me with a sleepy grin: “Good morning, Mommy.” Her pajamas still rumpled and warm from the night’s sleep.
I barely looked up. “Hi Julia,” I muttered, mostly to myself.
She stood in the kitchen for a moment, assessing the situation, then shrugged her shoulders and headed to the pantry to find a box of cereal.
Somewhere in the house her sisters were getting ready for school. Or maybe one had already left. I couldn’t remember—had she said goodbye?
I went back to my computer—writing, reading, staring. Whatever I was doing seemed important at the time, until Julia came over, stood in front of me, and gently closed my computer.
“Hey Mommy, look at ME! You haven’t even talked to me this morning!”
I shook the internet fog out of my head and took a good hard look at my little girl. This little girl, so insightful, so precocious, so precious to me. How many times had I done this very thing? How many mornings in a row? And how patient had my daughter been as I stared at a screen that seemed so much more important than her at the time.
My insides crumbled; I was so ashamed. In that small moment and with that small gesture my daughter showed me my sin—that I had counted whatever was happening on my computer as more important than her.
I vowed from that moment on that I would spend our few minutes together in the morning computer-free. That I would devote my attention to her because she is so definitely worth it. She’d only be eight once and I didn’t want to miss it.
I hate to even write about that moment, but it was such a huge lesson and such an important turning point for me. I had already missed so many mornings with my girl because something on a screen had distracted me, and it makes me wonder . . . has this happened to you, too?
Mamas, could I suggest a few internet guidelines for while our kids are in our homes?
1. Start their morning off right by giving your kids their full attention. Whatever it takes, do that. For me, I had to consciously tell myself that my computer would remain closed while my daughter was around in the morning. Nothing—not Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, nothing—is as important as looking into the eyes of a child and making them feel important.
2. Recognize your weaknesses. Write them down if you have to. Give yourself a time limit on social media, and maybe, for a week or so, keep track of how much time you actually spend on social media. You might surprise yourself with how many empty minutes you’re spending on what feels “important” but really isn’t.
3. Put down your phone. That’s right. Just put it away, walk away, do whatever it takes to avoid the habit of carrying that appendage around and staring at it all. the. time. Because our kids are watching us and they are taking note of what we find interesting and important. Trust me, there’s nothing more interesting than a child who’s discovering something new about the world around her.
These are hard words for me to even write because I am so guilty. But these are things that God has been dealing with me about lately, so I wondered if maybe you need to hear it too.
My house is so very quiet these days—that little eight-year-old left for college this year. What I wouldn’t give for another morning to make her pancakes and pack her lunch (OK, maybe not the lunch part—they did that themselves—but you know what I mean).
I know everyone tells you to enjoy this time of life because it goes so fast, and that may or may not feel true to you right now, but what I want you to know is this: Enjoy it because the most precious, most important, most interesting people you’ll ever meet are sitting right in front of you, just asking to be seen.