Put Down The Phone and Pick Up The Baby!

Put Down The Phone and Pick Up The BabySo I got a gut punch first thing this morning when my three year old asked me if I wanted to just lay with her instead of being on my phone. I tossed my iPhone aside and wrapped my arms around her. She let me hold her for a few minutes, as she warmed her ice cold toes between my legs while I brushed the hair out of her face.

What the heck had I been doing that was more important than cuddling my daughter at 7AM? Checking email, checking Facebook, checking the weather and checking Instagram. Same thing I do during every other lull in the day.

I honestly hadn’t realized, until she inadvertently pointed it out to me, that almost every day when Madeline comes into my room I’m either already on or quickly pick up my phone. What message is that sending her? I’ll just leave that question rhetorical. #momguilt

My bed is for sleeping, snuggling and sexy time. How quickly it seems I’ve forgotten the simplicity of it in the age of instaEverything.

Don’t misunderstand me, I love this digital age we live in — information and entertainment at our fingertips at a moments notice. But this morning, after wondering aloud with my husband whether or not there are apps that block you from using features of your phone at certain times, I realized that if I have to wonder I probably am taking a few too many moments away, “checking out” of my day.

My plan? I’m going to dock my phone on my dresser to charge overnight, out of reach from the bed. From now on, I’ll do my checks after I get out of bed. Because really? It can wait.

I can’t say it’s the same for you, but I’ve become addicted to my phone. Breaking the daily habit of picking it up first thing (before my feet even hit the ground) isn’t going to be easy. Truth be told, even just thinking about making this permanent change has me a little twitchy. But the change is needed. I need more time warming up my baby’s cold toes and memorizing the quiet moments together before our crazy days begin.

The Commissary

We recently acquired a magnificent new Pottery Barn Kids table and chairs set from Craigslist, and, as I knew it would, it has proved itself quite useful. It has been a place for Madeline to explore all of the arts (painting, coloring, stamp-padding, play-doughing), a place to play board games, and, much to my delight, Madeline quickly figured out that it is a great place to stage imaginary play. I’ve been served some five-star, four-course meals from her play kitchen at our new table. She arranges her plates on a tray and brings it to the table to serve from. Then she bosses me on what to eat first. It’s legit.

This morning, Madeline placed her cash register on the table and insisted I go shopping at the commissary. So I pulled out the shopping cart and started filling it with a few items from her fridge. Before I could even check out, she decided it would be much better for us to switch places. So I took my rightful place as head cashier of the commissary, set up my hidden camera and filmed our romp into the Land of Make-Believe.

Deployment: Small Mercies

Small Mercies
Though there have been glimpses of good times and happiness (as evidenced by my Instagram feed), in general, I would say this deployment has been rough.

I don’t even know where to begin. How far back do I go? To the week he left, when the kids had strep throat and double ear infections? To February, when Benjamin began his battle with recurring ear infections and when both children had their upper lip and tongue ties revised? To March, when when we traveled to New York for two weeks and Benjamin’s unresolved ear infection coupled with his four-month sleep regression almost ended us and when Madeline had a virus that landed us first in Urgent Care in New York and then in the ER in North Carolina (turned out to be the flu, which we were all vaccinated against, and it took me out, too)? To this month? Benjamin’s ear infection is back, along with his inability to nap or sleep through the night. Madeline’s sibling rivalry has finally kicked in and she will do anything — good or bad — for my attention. And me? I’m having dreams (when I’m lucky enough to get a REM cycle) about ocean waves crashing over my head.

Perhaps, I’ll just give a glimpse into tonight at our house. As I was giving an extremely overtired Benjamin (who had been crying for the better part of the last three days) his bedtime bottle, Madeline started screaming from her room. I jumped up from the rocker, still holding and feeding Benjamin, and ran to her door. Turns out she had gone to the bathroom. Number two. In her underwear. And she wasn’t happy about her decision. In that moment, I could actually feel my frustration, my anger, my exhaustion vibrating in every cell of my body. Profanities flew across my mind faster than I could think them. WHY!?

I tried to address the situation right there on the floor of her room, while still feeding the baby, but quickly learned that it was not a good idea. So I told her to get into the tub (unfilled) and wait for me to get Benji into bed. She sobbed for ten straight minutes, while I thought horrible, ungrateful thoughts in my head as Benjamin finished his bottle. I put him into his crib and stroked his precious blonde hair. His eyelids grew heavy and each blink got longer until he was asleep. I shut his door, said my nightly prayer for him to sleep through until morning, took a breath and walked to the bathroom.

When I saw my big girl, partially clothed, looking impossibly small and sad in the tub, my rage dissolved. I took her into the shower, dressed her in jammies, put product into her sweet curls and followed her to her room. We read stories with Daddy, listened to his lullabies and then we lay there in the dark, both of us unwinding. She let me hold her in my arms. She talked and I listened for ten straight minutes, this time my mind spinning with guilt and understanding.

When her stream of consciousness started to slow, I sat up, attempting to wrap up bedtime: “Do you know how much I love you Maddie? So so much.” And with every ounce of sincerity in her body she said, into the darkness, “Mommy, I want to keep you.” I slid back down onto her pillow and wrapped myself up in her laughter, as she rolled over and licked my cheek. Thank God for small mercies. That will get me through to tomorrow.