My daughters each have a baby that goes everywhere with them. One is a bunny and one is a lamb.
The other night as Tim was about to tuck them in, they both ran out of their room to collect their "babies" and brought Tim his phone as well. When he asked why, they said, "Because you love your phone."
He quickly explained that he did not love his phone. To which they replied, "Well. Mama definitely loves her phone."
Oof. The retelling of that one hurt.
Because, of course, our children are our greatest mirrors. And because, of course, when they look at me and I'm not parenting, I'm often on my phone. Checking just one more thing. Responding to a text. Looking something up. Or, you know, just scrolling.
And I suspect that this is the message most of us are sending to each other. That the thing we're wildly devoted to in our lives - as evidenced by our actions - are our phones. Of course, if you asked 100 of us to list out our top three priorities, no one would say social media. But I suspect that the hidden-camera versions of our lives would tell a different story. One that we weren't so enamored with.
Part of the issue is that our phones have become our communication hubs. Whereas before, you used to come home, check the mailbox and the answering machine, now it's all in our hands. All the time.
So it is up to us to deliberately put boundaries around our usage. Really. I see parents do it all the time with their teens. But we never consider the example we're setting with our own usage.
I was thinking about this the other day and wondered what might shift in my life if I only checked and responded to text messages once a day. Would people get pissed? Would I lose friends? Would I have to constantly explain myself and apologize?
But also: what could I gain? In the quest for more freedom, what would my life look like if I wasn't always attached to the glowing rectangle in my hand. What if I let myself lose track of my phone? If I decided that it is merely a tool and not the boss of me?
And what could my new set of actions teach my children about what I really love?