As a new(ish) mother, there is one piece of advice that I receive more than any other: “enjoy it, it goes by so fast”. Without a doubt, there is no phrase that I find to be more true of parenting and of marriage and life in general. As we age we stop wishing time away and begin willing it to slow down. This phenomenon is not lost on me and it has become ever more apparent as I prepare for my first baby to turn two. Looking back now, there were so many phases that I prayed would end quickly; so many days that I counted the minutes until bedtime. Today, I would give almost anything to have even the seemingly painful days to relive so that I could truly absorb and cherish each moment.
Even as I privately recall my favorite moments of the last two years, I catch myself absentmindedly checking my phone for messages, missed calls and Facebook notifications. Like a hard slap in the face it occurs to me that my phone not only distracts me from relishing in my fondest memories, it prevents me from making new ones. Ironically, the very device that stores and organizes much of my life, simultaneously robs me of enjoying and being fully present in it.
I avoided unnecessary stress.
While social media definitely has its perks, I find that it brings a lot of unsolicited opinions and undesirable exchanges. The cost for having friends and acquaintances at your fingertips is that most anyone can insert themselves into your life without much effort. I tend to successfully avoid becoming involved in drama but that constant exposure to debate and discussion and disagreement comes with the consequence of undue stress.
I had more time on my hands.
I’m not the type of person that spends hours and hours scrolling through my newsfeed, looking at photos and reading articles. My time on Facebook usually happens in short bursts, checking notifications or responding to messages or comments. In the grand scheme of things, the 45 seconds spent participating in this mindless activity is a minute part of my day. But over the course of a full day or, in this case a full week, many hours are lost.
My family interactions changed.
Parenting a toddler means my days are peppered with screaming tantrums, inexplicable tears, and misplaced aggression, all of which can be chalked up to the “terrible twos”. Until the commencement of my experiment, I had never considered that my phone use could be playing a major role in the frequency and severity of my son’s outbursts. I realized that my focus on my phone might have required my son to repeat himself or raise his voice to capture my attention. Without the distraction he seemed to experience fewer instances of frustration in communicating his needs or wants.
I became more aware.
I began to notice interactions between my kids that I might have otherwise missed. In the eyes of his sister, my two-year-old can do no wrong. Whether he is viciously shaking her awake, stealing her toys or jumping out of hiding to terrify her, he is met with a kind of unconditional love that I wasn’t even aware existed before I laid eyes on my first born. Watching my children even when they do not require my attention allows me to cherish more of the looks and giggles and moments that would normally go unnoticed.