As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Ball and Chain

We've all heard the old saying about marriage being like a ball and chain but that's not what I would attach that description to. Instead what I think is a much more worthy contender for such a title is something I find myself quite often tethered to for most of the day.  Something so small you'd barely notice it, except for the crazy amount of time I have it in front of my face.   Something that has become a lifeline in many ways, for better or for worse, and that is almost constantly on my person. That something, you probably guessed, is my cell phone.

I say almost constantly on my person, because today it wasn't.  I was halfway home from my parents' house yesterday when I realized I didn't have it with me.  One of my kids wanted to take a picture so I let him use it, and then I never got it back.  Turns out he left it on the counter at their place, probably thinking I'd remember to pick it up (I didn't).  I was happy in that instant to realize I hadn't spent any time during our visit on my phone, as on any other day I would have realized I didn't have it when I reached in my pocket to check Facebook, or Instagram, or to take a picture.  But I didn't, and I was too far to turn around.  I figured I could just ask my husband to pick it up after work today.

I'll be honest, since I have a nursing baby I find my phone the easiest thing to have.  We don't have Network TV and I'm not interested in watching Netflix (we don't turn on the TV during the day), so the phone is my go-to when I'm sitting in my chair for 20+ minutes of downtime several times a day.  I may or may not have shared previously that during the school year I don't check Facebook during the day because it's too easy for me to end up spending my whole day there, and I get irritable with the kids. But even when I'm not on social media I still spend a lot of time on my phone - reading the news, checking out blogs, browsing Kijiji for free stuff that I never get but just like to look at.  Wasting time doing mindless stuff, because I have time to waste.  So naturally the first thing I thought was, "what am I going to do while I'm nursing the baby?"  (hint: We survived!)

The first thing I noticed after I got home was my interaction with Facebook.  I checked it on the computer when I got home, but it didn't suck me in the way it does on my phone.  In the evenings I spend so much time checking and re-checking my newsfeed - I don't want to miss anything.  But on the computer I found it more cumbersome, so I really only read my notifications and left it at that.  I hardly even checked it today, even though school doesn't start until next week and I haven't set a limit on it yet - I didn't have the same desire.  So I resolved that from now on, I will only use my computer for social media.  I think that way I am much more accountable for the time I spend on it, and I hope I won't waste as much time as I have sadly become accustomed to.

And when I did nurse the baby, I read a real-life book.  And boy did it feel luxurious!  I had started reading the Call the Midwife books a while back (side note: if you are a fan of the show, or even if you're not, you should read these books.  They're fantastic!) and picked up a copy I had long neglected halfway through.  I had found I wasn't really in much of a reading mood these past few months, but since it was the only option I thought, what the heck?  And it didn't take me long to remember how much I loved it.  As I sat in my chair snuggled up with the baby, sun streaming in through the windows and cool air blowing on me from the fan, knowing that this is the last week before school starts, it all felt so glorious that I was happy not to have my phone on me. 

I realized very quickly how much better it is for the kids to see me with a book in my hands instead of a device.  I have always preferred hard copy books to electronic ones, which I think is how I ended up wasting my time with so much mindless fluff on my phone - I found it difficult to get into a book with all the kids around, and nearly impossibly to read a book on my phone.  So I would just pounce around from website to website, filling in the time that the baby was feeding, instead of spending it on something that actually made a difference to me.  Today though, I'm seeing that it's worth it to actually pick up a book, even if I can only get through a few pages at a time.  A truly great use of my leisure time.

This evening we went to pick my phone up, and I'll admit I had mixed feelings.  I'm tempted to just put it away entirely, except that I use it often for text messaging my husband and family, and it really is the easiest and quickest way to get in touch with someone (mostly my husband at work).  But I've definitely learned that not only can I make through the day without having it in front of my face (even when I'm nursing) but that my day is a million times better for it.  It's not just about the kids (although that's a big part of it), it's about me too.  When I spend my time on things that build up my mind and my soul, my heart follows suit and we are all better for it.  And most importantly, I teach my children that you don't need a device to be happy.  In fact, I think all too often when we come to rely on these devices for our happiness, they hinder it.  Today I finally got rid of the ol' ball and chain.  And man, what a great feeling it was!

Thank you Lord for the gentle reminder and encouragement to do something I have long felt convicted of, but have been too stubborn to acknowledge.  I am grateful that you reward such small sacrifices with such abundant joy.

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