Teppenyaki was the dinner treat for our children on a Friday night. The call was theirs on the cuisine, two out of three identified Asian, orange chicken called out from the youngest and sushi from the eldest. The perfect blend of each equals teppenyaki. While at the dinner table and enjoying the various rolls ordered to curb any grouchiness and angst from impatiently hungry children, and husband, I found myself wondering if I should grab my phone to document the moment. Post the food hashtagÂ on Instagram and carry over to Facebook, with the exploits of my children as the forefront. The picture would literally eek of SOB as I would succumb to the, “look at me I am a fabulous parent taking my children out for Japanese cuisine” cliche of today’s Facebook parenting. I took the picture anyway, only to be saved until today.
Everyday I am reminded of how connected we are as a society to social media, the net, technology. Facebook posts are riddled with exploited children in their seemingly normal and mundane daily life. Nothing too out of the ordinary, just their natural habitat. Parents capitalizing on their children in vulnerable moments, Instagram posts of ER visits for a broken arm after falling off a bike, tweets about the drowning of a child, or a blog about how their child is so amazingly special and you are an asshole for not agreeing with their parenting style or fashion. Such individuals will even go to such devastatingly great lengths to validate their useless points.
For the last four years I have trudged through the whoreson of the corporate existence. I have lost much of my desire for exploitation due to the lack of overall time I had to spend with my children outside of the workplace. Many of the women who post today are stay at home mothers. In no way is this a bash to the important job and responsibility as a mother. However, how much of that time is actually spent being a mother? Are these mothers spending more time death gripping the smart device to see what Sally Shoemaker is up to and what she is doing for her children today. Or Josie Jerkoff and how she is always taking her children out for processed foods and other corporate infused noxiousness. Can you count how much time is actually spent with your children? Can you recall what they learned in school today? Did you assist with their homework? Have you had a legitimate conversation with them about their feelings, how today’s world impacts them, their future, are they physically, emotionally, and mentally prepared.
“I don’t have to worry about such nonsense right now” is the flippant response. I laugh, because we are so engulfed in our own existence and the relationship with social media and overall technology, we have become a disconnected parent of sorts. Albeit, we are posting galore on Instagram, Facebook and making our opinions heard in 140 characters or less to seem as if we are so in tune with our children’s day-to-day and well being. I enjoy the parents who post about how they work and play with their kids and the posts are occasional, while I miss their engagement, I know most are a text away. I used to be that parent on both spectrum’s, engaged and disengaged all at once.
These days I find myself in an overwhelming amount of joy, albeit sometimes bombarding, that my kids run to me first when they get home. The past five months have afforded me a gift and a blessing I will never regret. I will never look back on this time and think I missed anything. In spite of looming financial hardships and the overall frustration of not working (contributing financially), I have never been so connected to my kids and my life. I will never regret being able to experience these times in their lives.
Each day I have the pleasure of seeing them off to school. My former life I was already at the office by the time they would even wake, if not tied to a conference call as I waved each goodbye and scooted out the door. My oldest has mastered the fine art of using the telephone, calling me on days to make special requests like bringing his refillable water bottle to school for him since its a warm day (and he’s susceptible to heat stroke) and or calling to remind me of something he wanted in particular.Â I find his calls so heartwarming, even though just a simple phone call, the fact he thought to call me is priceless.
Every afternoon I see them barreling through the door, near breathless from racing each other from the bus stop, but managing to rattle off all they did that day or the major accomplishment. While a slave to the corporate master I would miss these moments, only to be told secondhand by my husband, missing all the excitement from the original storytellers, breathless, sweaty and grinning ear to ear. The story and moment didn’t hold the same weight.
I find myself soaking in more time with them now that they are older and more aware. We talk about real issues, concerns, feelings, planning for the future. The transactions are phenomenal and comedic. Avoidance of technology at the dinner table and throughout all our meals has become vital. Reconnecting with our kids, our lives and blocking the noise of social media and technology in order to be parents, to be engaged and to be aware. Ironic as this post may be, writing it while my children are in school. With less time attached to my phone I am taking fewer pictures as well, mental snap shots of the raw beauty of just being with my family, admiring the blessing.
My mind often travels around the thought of His plan. Maybe His plan all along was for me to re-engage with my kids. Shutting out my corporate life, disowning a part of my online life, so that I can be the influential woman for G and teach him to cook. To be the strong, confident, girly-girl mother my daughter needs to own her identity, and to be the teacher of language for my sweet middle sheep Seth, so he can one day arbitrate towards world peace with his exceptional communication skills.
Questions flood about what would have become of myself, my family and my kids if my faith had wavered any further. Would I continue on as a Facebook parent, only displaying to the world the small, snapshot worthy, shining moments instead of actually living in them with my children; where they see my eyes instead of my forehead as it is dipped into my smartphone. Would I have tripped farther down Alice’s corporate rabbit hole wallowing in my own personal hell? Questions I am thankful I don’t have to answer.