On Being Present


I remember the Kid Rules growing up in my house. With 6 kids, my mom kept it pretty simple.

Never interrupt Mom on the phone.

Never talk to Mom in the bathroom.

And, most importantly, never, ever, ever page Mom at the grocery store.

This last one is a practice that predates cell phones.

“Mrs. Ross, your daughter is on line 1. Please come to the Service Counter.”

My Mom abhorred this embarrassing practice. But, what’s a girl to do when she’s hungry? Fighting with her brother? Bored?

Ah, but sweet Lord, I never listened. I wanted her attention, when I wanted it. I was okay with just a nod of the head, a little Mhmmm action and barely any eye-contact sometimes, because I knew she was busy and I took what I could get. I didn’t love her less – I got it. She was a busy lady.

And now, fast-forward to Mom Rules 2014.

Be present.

Make eye contact.

Turn off the cell phone.

Don’t respond to that ding!

Drop everything and listen. Now. Not in 5 minutes, now. Damnit.

We are all painfully aware of just how much damage the internet, the iPhone, the immediate gratification-nation is doing to us Moms. We’re like Dug the dog in Up jumping at the first “squirrel” we can.

Our kids need our undivided attention. Our spouse deserves our eye contact. Our coworkers need our response, not our half-listening Mmmhmms. We know it. We are aware of it. No one should need to wait. Not now, not in this day and age. Not ever.

But, it isn’t easy.

I think the New Techno-World doesn’t remember that most of us women (and men, for that matter) have been preoccupied long before the internet came to pass. To-do lists, around-to-its, deadlines, phone messages (remember answering machines?) and snail mail bills piled up high.

Laundry, unfortunately still exists. Family, friends and communal obligations never left.  Moms have always been busy, overwhelmed and distracted. It’s – wait for it – NORMAL.

So, I am here to give you a freakin’ break.

If your pavlovian response is to take a moment to check that ding, just do it. Do it fast. Return to the moment in front of you (or turn off that phone) but, stop feeling so darn guilty. We have enough guilt on our plates without the news and our friends being all judgey.

If you can’t remember the colors of your kid’s eyes and you haven’t had a face to face talk with your husband in days – well, then maybe it is time to step away and do some techno-detox.

By the way, in my house those rules about phone calls, bathroom moments and grocery stores still apply. Although I do find I am way too accessible at the grocery store via text :

Mom, can you get snacks? There’s nothing to eat here.

Mom, this one is bothering me while I do my homework.

Mom, will you be home soon? What’s taking sooooo long??!?

Sure, there’s no page on that loudspeaker. But, responding to all those texts – I definitely take 3 times the time getting through those aisles and bump into a few nice old ladies in the aisles as I text and push.

It is my goal to be present in every moment of my life.

It is my goal to always stop what I am doing, set eyes on my beautiful child and listen. Be in that moment. I try very hard. Sometimes, I am really good at it. But, I am not perfect.


And, guess what? That’s okay.



One response to “On Being Present”

  1. Mom says:

    I forgot about the paging – doesn’t seem as bad as it did 25 years ago!!

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