Phones beep and buzz and light up. They house memories, recipes, and stories from people halfway across the world; all at our fingertips. Why would we want to miss out on any of that? But what happens when not missing out on our cellphones means missing out on eye contact and interactions with our children?

 

By Reanna Spain

As a millennial, I’m part of the last generation of individuals who experienced life BC (before cellphones).

Back before “office hours” became checking a quick email during dinner, and when reading the news meant sitting in your rocker on Sunday morning with a hot cup of Joe; not sitting in the stands of your kids t-ball game scrolling through Facebook during innings. Distraction doesn’t even adequately describe it: it’s just become the norm—all these things constantly vying for our attention with equal persistence.

Who can blame us?

Phones beep and buzz and light up. They house memories, recipes, and stories from people halfway across the world; all at our fingertips. Why would we want to miss out on any of that? But what happens when not missing out on our cellphones means missing out on eye contact and interactions with our children?

On any given day, I have innumerable opportunities to either be engaged with my son or pulled off into the world of technology. At six months old, he’s just beginning to venture into independence. Exploring curiosities and boundaries in the constraints of our living room while rolling, drooling, and squealing with delight. Everything is new to him, which means everything is the absolute most interesting thing he’s ever encountered.

I see him look to me countless times for reassurance, guidance, and approval.

I can’t help but wonder what he thinks when he looks to me, and my face is buried in a 5.5-inch handheld screen. When I’m mentally somewhere else, driven by GIFs, memes, and emojis. Does he notice when I’m unable to share in his delight, or assist with his frustration because I’m worlds away?

Even if he doesn’t, is that the message I want to send? Or do I want him to feel seen, heard, and validated? I’ll always choose the latter. I’ll always choose mindfulness.

John Kabat-Zinn said that, “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” I’m aiming to be present because—in this current state of disconnection—I want him to learn the value of eye contact, of deeper love, and of greater curiosity.

 

Reanna Spain is a wife, mother, and small business owner. Using her writing, she helps others hone their authority and make more money in their personal and professional ventures. A certified yoga teacher, student of mindfulness, and adventure seeker, she’s constantly fantasizing of international travel. You can occasionally find her hanging in a hammock on the beach; more often she’s hanging cloth diapers in her backyard. Connect with her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter @reannawordsmith.

 

Photo: (source)

Editor: John Lee Pendall

 

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The Tattooed Buddha was founded by Buddhist author Ty Phillips and Dana Gornall. What started out as a showcase for Ty's writing, quickly turned into collaboration with creative writer, Dana Gornall and the home for sharing the voices of friends and colleagues in the writing community. The Tattooed Buddha strives to be a noncompetitive, open space for the author’s authentic voice. So while not necessarily Buddhist, we are offering a dialogue that is aware and awake to the reality of our present day to day, tackling issues of community, environment, and compassionate living.

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