Saturday, December 27, 2014

Love is Less Screen

It's midwinter now, but I wrote this in late April and never hit the Publish button for fear of being honest, and for my overwhelming aversion of leaving issues open-ended.  But I think I'm ready to peel back the Band-Aid and let you see how things have been slowly healing since then (which I'll talk about in later posts).  So, wincing, here's a close-hearted journal entry...

Today was a full, mostly lovely day with the kiddos while Todd is away.  We had playdates/meetups planned all day long from 9am until sundown just for the sake of getting out and enjoying the company of friends on our first spring day in short sleeves.  The boys and I played with friends in St. Paul and walked to their neighborhood playground, met Lauren and her sister Cara for an all-afternoon tour of the Mill City Museum, explored and walked around Boom Island Park, met Betsy, Lauren and Cara for a sunset picnic, and had mudpies with leaf sprinkles for dessert.
It was ideal…minus my lack of patience and general happiness.  Why?  I read news articles online last night until well into the wee hours, and I was paying for it in mental absence and a physical lapse of love.  I wasn’t web-surfing for anything perverse, nothing outright wrong, just the news going on that the media thinks I should know about…that I thought I should know about.  At least, that’s what kept me clicking without recognition of the time ticking.  

When Doe woke up to be fed at 1am, I looked up from my laptop, and although I wasn’t sleeping, I did wake up—from the web-zombie state that I was in.  Picking her up, feeling her soft hair and smelling her sweetness gave me a touch of reality that was more like a cold splash of water to my face:  "what am I doing? I’m wasting my life. I’m losing the sleep I need so badly. I’m setting myself up for failure with a full day ahead.  There are four little lives sleeping peacefully who will need me in the morning…and I’m up thinking I need to know about 'The Top Three Rated International Airlines' and 'Why Nuclear Downsizing is Coincidental to Russian Uprising.'"  Sigh.

Why?  Is it a desire for mental stimulation after a long day with little people?  Why then don’t I read a good book? I just don’t get what keeps me up and web-browsing.  Granted, just last week I deactivated my Facebook account after a long time of debate over it’s usefulness versus my uselessness the morning after a News Feed binge.  I’ve been so free from the temptation to check Status Updates this week that I may not ever go back.  But I only replaced the bad habit with another one; I cleared out one demon and seven more moved in.  Deep sigh.

So it all culminated tonight as I was putting the boys down for bed and was heart-felt apologizing my for my lack of patience and kindness to them.  I tell them every night that “Jesus loves you most and best” and I thought it appropriate tonight to explain why I say that: to remind them that He is the only one who can love them perfectly; that I fall very short of demonstrating the love, kindness, grace and patience that Jesus gives.  "God is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love,” I said, “and I’m praying that I can know His love and show it better in the way that I love you."

 I expressed how, although imperfectly, I loved them and that I’m asking God to help me.

That’s when the usually quiet Bear spoke up with eyes wide open, “Mommy we need to tell you how much screen to get…20 minutes or 30 minutes and that’s all.”  
“Screen?” I asked.  Then Lion caught on and said, “Yeah, your screen time.  We’ll give you one minute of screen time and then you’re done.”  Bear, presently fixated on rhyming, piped up, “One-DONE!"

They had no idea I had been up late, nor did they know how much I’ve been wrestling with this bad habit.  I knew it was a prophetic reference to the source of my lack of patience and focus that day and my overall malady. They insightfully equated my inability to love well with my overuse of media. I bravely pressed in to understand more of what they meant: “what screen are you talking about?’

Lion said with a grin, “Your phone. You’re OBSESSED with it.” I seceded as I combed their hair with my fingers, “Yeah…I realize I’m awfully distracted and I’m missing what’s important, which is you guys. I am very, very sorry.”
Lion agreed, “Yeah mom.  Can you give us some paper so we can write a note that says, ‘One minute allowed’? Then you’ll actually have time to play Legos with us!"

In a flash I pictured all the times during the day that I’ve got my phone in my hands, the times I’m sending a text, or checking my e-mail, or the weather, or whatever I can to feed my habit.  I saw myself missing all of the moments of opportunity to engage with my children because my mind is elsewhere, finding every opportunity to escape such a beautiful reality to numb my brain with virtual reality.  

I need help.  So I asked the boys to forgive me for being so distracted, and to remind me about my screen limits.  And while I tucked them into bed and kissed their soft faces a few extra times, I prayed to a very patient, loving, kind, merciful, always-present God for help.  

Sunday, February 2, 2014

That hog in the ground better tell me winter is almost over!

Yes, I came out of my winter burrow once again to tell you "Happy Groundhog Day!" and share with you what we and our little hoglets have been up to this year!  Besides the fact that it's so cold I couldn't feel my fingers and toes after merely delivering our Groundhog Day letter to our nearby neighbors, the snow sure is beautiful here in our Minnesotan wonderland.  Punxsutawney Phil's shadow tells us we have 6 more weeks of winter...I'd be stoked if that were true.  His shadow seems to stretch a bit farther 'round these parts.  So back in my snow burrow I go, thankful for our furnace and the love of God that keeps us warm :).