The other afternoon I left my phone at home. It’s strange to even be writing about this; during my childhood this wasn’t even a thing. Of course my mother left her phone at home…it was attached to the wall with a cord. This wasn’t a part of her motherhood world the way it is mine. The way it will probably be a part of my daughter’s if she is gifted the role of mother.
At any rate, the other afternoon I left my phone at home. We were walking to the park five minutes from our home and I didn’t have a legitimate need for it. I suppose we could have had an emergency and a need to call someone, but I’m not the sort of person that carries an umbrella in case it rains.
That afternoon was exhilarating. The sky seemed bluer, and the grass greener. I smelled the subtle, spicy fall scents more strongly as we walked through the leaves. Daughter’s smile seemed more radiant.
And I wondered to myself: What if the sky is always this blue and the grass always this green? What if her smile is always this radiant? What if I just don’t notice?
Phone usage and motherhood is a challenge to balance. I think I’m pretty good at it until I notice that leaving my phone behind altogether feels freeing.
That afternoon we run through the leaves, and I give daughter her first piggy-back ride. We discover our shadows in the sideways rays of the fall sunshine. We find a ladybug and watch it crawl up daughter’s sleeve and fly away home. We climb and jump and figure out how to cross the rickety bridge on the playground. We even laugh and shriek with delight.
I don’t check the time every little while. I don’t pause to take pictures of all the beautiful moments I see. I don’t listen to a podcast while I watch her climb the stairs thirty-four times. I don’t quick look up that recipe I am planning for dinner. I don’t sneak a quick scroll through Instagram to see what everyone else is doing.
I am just here. I am noticing.
I’m not suggesting I’ll do this all the time. I often have valuable and real reasons I need my phone with me. I use it as a watch, camera, GPS, e-mail provider, Google-extraordinaire, and also as a way to call my friends and family. It will be with me often…but maybe just not quite as often. It’s time to have more mornings, more afternoons with phone left behind. For more hours of pure noticing.