As I ran around the kitchen trying to get dinner ready, thinking about the paperwork I needed to complete before bed, the calls I needed to make and the many other things on my never-ending to-do list, my son, CJ, was chattering away, asking one question after another. I answered him as I sliced the zucchini and onion.
I was fully engaged with him as I “multi-tasked” or better yet “mommy-tasked,” so I thought.
Then, with urgency, CJ said, “Mommy, I need to tell you something.” Still running around the kitchen, I could hear the want in his voice as he uttered, “I need you to stop for a moment, so I can tell you something.”
I said, “In a minute, honey.”
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He said, “I need to tell you now. It’s important.”
A bit exasperated, I stopped. I bent down to his level and looked at my child. As our eyes locked onto each other I asked, “What do you need to tell mem sweetie?”
He lifted his hands to my face and cupped my cheeks between the palms of his hands. CJ then looked at me with such seriousness in his face and said, “Mommy, when I talk to you, I need you to look at me.”
‘Mommy is sorry’
Boy, did that catch me off guard. He was so right. I gave him a big hug and said, “You are right, and mommy is sorry. I need to stop and look at you when we talk.”
I quickly went over my crazy day in my head and realized I had been moving in fast motion since I picked him up from school. I sat down next to him and held his hand. “People are always more important than things,” I said, and we talked.
I will never forget that conversation. Although it took place 15 years ago, it remains fresh in my heart. As a parent it made me more aware that when I was with my child, there would be many times that I would need to slow down or come to a complete halt and focus on him, so that he would know that I was always available and open to hear him at any time.
Today, many of us find ourselves enveloped in technology 24/7. We rely on mobile phones, smart watches, social media, shows on demand around the clock as newer gizmos and gadgets promise to make our lives easier. The downside is the constant use makes it trickier to be fully present with those we care about.
Turning technology off
Studies have shown that connection and intimacy are needed to maintain and build strong families and that meaningful friendships and relationships are being lost because too many of us are unwilling to turn off technology and focus.
It takes intentional one on one, face-to-face time to build strong bonds. People need people, and people are definitely more important than things. Having live exchanges is far different than texting back and forth. Yes, technology can enhance the ability to communicate with others more often. Yes, we need it and yes, we love technology, but perhaps individually we should each consider to what degree and technology “gets in the way” of being fully present.
There is something very special about being in close proximity to a person you can see, touch, hold, perhaps even kiss, hug, laugh and cry with as you look into each other’s eyes and judge for yourself that all is well within.
Being near someone dear and being able to look into their eyes as they look back into yours replaces anything that technology has to offer.
Regina Gale is the author of “Sometimes he Buys Me Grapes” a memoir of the song and dance of life from a seasoned woman’s heart. www.reginagale.com.