There’s a big to-do about “disconnecting”—New Year’s resolutions to “put the phone away,” talking about smartphone addiction, worried we’re losing sight of what’s happening right in front of us. I’m certain there’s an adage about making sure not to focus on the picture instead of the moment. We don’t want to miss out on the now, and I’ll be the first to support that. But I won’t put my phone down.
See, I am super-connected to my phone, but it doesn’t affect my life negatively. It affects it positively. Here’s how:
1. Advice lives in my phone.
I have a friend named Google who knows lots of really useful stuff about my kids. When my kid is sick or falls and hits his head on the tile floor (how does this happen so frequently?), I can grab my phone and search for answers. When the baby suddenly has an angry-looking rash or the toddler won’t eat chicken nuggets but will eat green beans (just kidding, that’s never happened; but if it did, I would know something was wrong), my phone can provide insight in a matter of seconds. My phone has calmed my nerves on more occasions than I can count, many of them between midnight and 4 a.m. Thank you for my sanity, phone.
2. My best friends live in my phone.
Sometimes, the people in our lives we feel closest to are farthest away. Luckily, technology is a thing, and we can communicate whenever we want. We catch up with them on the couch after the kids are in bed; they’re just not on the couch with us. We reach out in times of need; it’s just via text message. We laugh over ridiculous things our kids (or cats) do; it’s just via Snapchat and Facebook. These are very real, very important, very fulfilling relationships. They live inside my phone 90 percent of the time, but that doesn’t diminish their value or decrease the time and commitment needed to foster them, just like any important relationship. These are people I can turn to with my most embarrassing questions or confessions and in my weakest moments. They support, inspire and encourage me. They live in my phone, but they know me best.
3. My favorite memories of my kids live in my phone, and it saves new ones.
I have thousands of pictures of my kids in my phone. I’m always snapping new ones on special occasions (yes, the aquarium at Bass Pro counts). I share some with friends and family. I say something funny about the kids on Facebook. I love scrolling through my feed and seeing funny, adorable, impressive, weird, whatever things going on in other people’s lives. It connects and reminds me others are living through the same chaos I am. Confession: I love scrolling through my own feed and reflecting on memories I’ve shared from our lives. It brings a smile to my face when I see my 2-year-old grinning at me with birthday cake all over his mouth. Maybe I get a little tear when I scroll farther and see pictures of the 10-month-old as a newborn. My phone is always there to snap the next picture of what will be a great memory. Then it’s there weeks, months, years later to help me appreciate it.
4. Great times with my husband live in my phone, and it’s ready to capture more.
My husband and I have far fewer awkward selfie opportunities than we once did. This is probably a good thing. When we do go out to dinner though, why not snap a picture and share it? Look! We are still here! Remember us? Bigger question: Do we remember us? We try. We try to remember that couple before the house and the bottles and the diapers and the one M&M for peeing in the potty. Sometimes I scroll way back through my posts and my pictures. Back to when we took that picture on New Year’s Eve in our favorite bar, and it’s a terrible picture but a wonderful memory. Sure, I’ll spend a while looking at life from five years ago, remembering, appreciating where we were and where we are now, the differences, but also the things that stayed the same.
So no, I will not put my phone down. No sooner than I stop needing help keeping other humans alive. No sooner than I’d look at my best friend over a drink and tell him I can’t be his friend anymore because he takes up my time. No sooner than I’d tell my kids that capturing these precious days of baby- and toddlerhood isn’t important, or that looking back on those pictures and funny comments doesn’t remind me how much I love them. How full my life is with them in it, despite all the tough times and seemingly endless days (ahem, hours).
I certainly won’t put my phone down any sooner than I’d tell my husband that looking back on our first memories together can’t bring me back. Because it always can. Back from exhaustion, stress, fighting, disconnection. Back to him. Back to my kids. Back to my life now. Back to exactly what I wouldn’t miss for the world.