The Heart Strings of Your Children
We live in a world that prides itself in being "connected." Most adults have at least one "smart" gadget: phone, tablet, laptop, etc. We are constantly being interrupted by sounds of alarms (Time to feed the dog!), jingles announcing telephone calls and voicemails ("Hi Kate—got your e-mail. Hope my call helped you to find your phone. Again."), buzzing of text messages (Cn U rd ths?) and trumpets announcing the sound of e-mails being delivered again, and again, and again (Free shipping through midnight!). Our attention is being pulled in twenty directions at once, all because of the technology that is supposed to help us stay connected. With it. Plugged in to the lives of our friends and family.
But does it help us stay connected?
Have you glanced around a restaurant recently while waiting for your food? More often than not, whole families can be sitting together (dinner together is good), each one staring at their laps while their thumbs do the talking to those who aren't present (ignoring each other is bad). When we allow gadgets to become glued to our hands, we allow our hearts to become unglued from the real people in our lives.
Mothers are the queens of multitasking. We were designed by our Creator to be able to hold a baby on one hip, brown beef with the other hand, direct the toddler to share his trucks with our voice, shoo the dog from the kitchen with a toe and hear the buzz of the clothes dryer announcing the beginning of the Race Against Wrinkles. In a flash, we can pull the meat from the heat, grasp the boy's hand, traipse down the hallway, sit the baby in the laundry basket full of clean, warm clothes, and hug a toddler in our lap while we fold. Where does a "smart" gadget fit into this scenario? It doesn't.
Mobile Phone Bad Behavior (MPBB) is on the rise, and it calls for drastic measures. Restrict gadget time! Cut MPBB from your life!
As Mommas, we need to make sure that our babies know that they come first in our hearts, in our minds, and in our lives. When we are constantly only glancing at them over a shiny gadget, love is not the message we communicate. We should behold our babies as the apples of our eyes! And too often, we give them a distracted "in a minute" response, while we answer a text or send just one more e-mail.
Grown-ups often overlook babies. Have you ever watched adults when they are addressing a family? Most never speak to the youngest children. And they very rarely make eye contact with babies. They speak over their heads as if they are not even present. I try my best to smile directly at every baby I have the chance to talk to. Did you know that, more often than not, a baby will return your smile when you genuinely smile at him or her?
Babies are some of the best studiers of non-verbal cues of any people on earth. They can feel the tense muscles of the arm that holds them. They notice immediately if there is a smile lacking on the face that hovers over them to change a diaper or offer a bottle. Babies know instantly if your eyes are on them, but your thoughts are elsewhere. When we allow our hearts to become distracted, it shows in every feature and in every muscle of our bodies. And our babies see it and feel it. And they become troubled and fussy as a result.
The very first verse of the Love Chapter, as it is so called, declares that if one speaks with the tongues of men or angels without love, anything beautiful that might be forthcoming is only loud and ear-splitting, like a cymbal that is out of step with the rest of the orchestra. When we finally put down our gadget and truly engage with our children "when they are old enough to know the difference," we don't want to find that after years of being second (or third or twelfth) in our thoughts . . . our children have effectively tuned us out. Just as we have tuned them out for so long. We become a cymbal clanging in their ears, rather than a voice of love and wisdom, guiding them through the paths of their lives.
Our babies have a right to expect the undivided attention of their Mommas. Would we ever expect to be taken seriously in our adult interactions if we never maintained eye contact with those we spoke to? Of course we wouldn't. Why would we expect our babies to instantly feel connected to us when we choose, occasionally, to make them the focus of our attention? Our children do not come with on/off buttons. They are "on" all the time, observing, learning, and surveying the world they live in. We need to reassure our little ones that they are a million-zillion times more important than anything that could flash across the screen of our gadgets.
Technology does have its place. I'm writing this sentence on a computer. I own a shiny smart phone. But God has given me a shiny new baby to love and cuddle and teach and raise for His glory . . . and I'm choosing to make that baby (all my babies!) my priority, above social networking and "connectedness." I've learned to keep my phone where I can't hear it most of the day. I keep the sound off most of the time. I have carved out half an hour in the morning and another half an hour in the evening for gadget-ing and answering e-mails. Truth be told, I don't miss anything I can't catch up on later. There was a time before instant messaging—about 5,000 years, to be exact—when people spoke with each other face-to-face, without the help of miniature screens. They wrote to each other with real paper and ink, without acronyms, the dropping of letters, and send buttons. People invested in each other, rather than the latest new gismo.
God has given us all the "smarts" we need to fulfill His calling for us on this planet. And to conquer the quests He has called us to. By allowing a "smart" techno gadget to think for us, we are turning off the brain He has given us to engage and leaving behind a world of real, flesh-and-blood relationships for the artificial imitations. Those closest to us suffer the most from our disconnected and disjointed communication. Gadgets can be great tools, but all too often they become tyrants that steal one of the most precious and irreplaceable commodities that the Lord has given us: time.
Our babies are only with us for a very short time in the whole-life view of things, and if we spend the majority of their childhood with our eyes tracking on a screen rather than on them, we are in danger of severing one of the most precious gifts God has given to us as parents: the heart strings of our children.
San Antonio, Texas, USA
Reprinted with permission from Kate Collin's book, DELIGHT-FULL, 31 Days to a Happier Baby ... And Wholehearted Motherhood.
DELIGHT-FULL 21 Days to a Happier Baby... And Wholehearted Motherhood!
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Kate Collins, mother of eight young children, writes about the delights and joys of embracing babies--even in the midst of sleepless nights, tiredness, selfless giving, and the challenges that mothers face each day. The title says it all--DELIGHT-FULL. Your heart will melt, your mouth will smile, and you will feel cozy and warm inside. I would love every mother in the world to read this book.
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