Winning at Motherhood

I suffer from addiction to my iPhone.  I don’t text or play games on it all, but I am a tad obsessed with trolling Facebook, taking photos of my kids, and checking my email.  Recently, I’ve heard and read several things (like this article on phone addiction) that reinforced the feelings of guilt I had whenever my five-year-old said, “Mama?  Are you LISTENING?!”  I wasn’t.  Or I was half-listening, which is pretty much as bad as not listening.

So last week, I dropped my older son off at preschool and vowed to leave my phone in my purse when I got home.  I would give my two-year-old undivided attention for the three hours his brother was gone.  Too often I rely on them to entertain each other, and I would just let my little one take the lead with me as his playmate.

We read some new books and talked about trucks.  We built a little wagon out of Legos and loaded it full of Lego tires for my younger son’s favorite activity: Lego tire hoarding.  We played together for about an hour and a half, and I was feeling pretty good about the new leaf I’d turned over.  I hadn’t even thought about my phone, sitting there all lonely on vibrate in my purse!

And then there was a pounding on my door.  It was my mom, coming to find out if I’d been kidnapped or otherwise incapacitated because she, my dad, and my big boy’s school had been trying to get ahold of me for an hour and a half.  My son had twirled around in excitement over the letter C and smashed his head open on a corner.  They thought he would need stitches, and I had missed roughly thirteen hundred sixty calls and texts that my baby was bloody and scared.

Mother. Of. The. Year.

And this, my friends, is why it’s impossible to win as a mother.   I picked my son up from school and the first thing he says accusingly in the car is, “where WERE you?!  Everybody called and called, and you never answered!”   I ignore technology to engage with one child, and the other has an emergency.  I change a behavior of my own out of guilt only to find I’m digging through a whole new pile of it.

We all survived.  Butterfly bandages closed the deep, clean cut on his little forehead, and he had a good dramatic story to add to his repertoire.   His brother got to pick out Spidey bandaids to decorate both their faces with, and I’m still trying to ignore my phone a little more.  Only now, when one child is out of my sight, I remember to take a mothering time-out every few minutes to check for emergency messages.


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