Friday, October 28, 2011

Be Present, Mama!

Tuesday at Disneyland, while whooping it up in the last row of Thunder Mountain with my two daughters (I can do an excellent coyote impression), I couldn't help but notice the mom sitting in front of me. Next to her was her six year old, and in her hand was a phone. Throughout the ride -- uphills, downhills, sharp turns, creepy caverns -- she was playing with her phone! Not once did she look up.

It's not my usual policy to intervene in the parenting of strangers, but I was high on adrenaline. So when we rounded the final turn, I poked my head into her personal space and asked, "Are you texting?!?"

"Uh, yes," she said with a sheepish laugh.

"Be present, Mama!" I replied. "You're at Disneyland!"

More sheepish laughter. "I've been here before, you know. I'm getting too old for this."

"I'm older than you!" I declared. And then we disembarked, and I will never see that mommy again. But did I imagine her daughter giving us a wistful look as we giggled and ran away? Her mom had still not looked up from the phone.

I try not use my blog to judge other moms or analyze other people's faults. I find there are plenty of my own foibles and mistakes to analyze. But this encounter really stuck in my craw.

I like my children (duh) and love to do fun things with them. I feel the struggle to be present/be in the present with them is caused by external factors: the to-do lists, the messes, the laundry, the meal preparation. I purposefully get out of the house when I want to give my daughters long chunks of my undivided attention, as well as making time for them at home. We spent the exorbitant amount of money on our annual passes this fall because Disneyland is the place it is easiest to be most focused on our kids; there we feel like kids ourselves. Even on rides Jeff and I have been on dozens of times, we're still pointing out and enjoying every detail. The last thing we want to do during a roller coaster is surf the Internet or send a text message.

And yet, here I sit on a Saturday morning, looking at the computer screen instead of hanging out with the family. So maybe the factors that distract me aren't all external. So I'll sign off and say to myself, "Be present, Mama!"


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