As I think about how quickly my daughter is growing up, I often ask myself where I have spent my time. Where was I not being present, and where did I check out?
The reality of this dilemma hit me several years ago in an off-handed comment by my then four-year-old. It went something like this: We were playing in her room, I was on my phone, and she said, "Mommy, why are you always on the phone while we are playing?" In my head, I did an internal screech. It was one of those moments that I knew would have a big impact on me, but I wasn’t yet sure what it would be. I looked at her, apologized, and quickly put away my phone. I chalked this one up to a really “bad mommy” moment.
Years later, I still reflect on that interaction. Even though it was brief, it was a hard and painful lesson that motivated me to consider the times when I become so preoccupied with everything else that I’m missing what’s right in front of me. To this day, I still can’t remember who was so important that I simply had to talk to instead of being in the moment with my daughter.
As I think about the impact of this preoccupation and the message it is sending, I realize we are reinforcing the idea that it is okay not to be present, that it’s okay not to pay attention to the person in front of you. As I play this scenario out, my concern is this: what happens to our relationships? What happens when the texts, emails, and calls supersede the people in front of us?
Are you up for a challenge? Take one typical day and monitor your interactions. Just notice whom you are paying attention to and whom you are not. At the end of the day, ask yourself one simple question: what happens to the nots?