I'm sure parenting was never easy. So, it's not like parents today have it harder than their parents did (or their parents did). Sure, maybe we have to lock our doors now and the threat of nuclear annihilation hangs over all our heads, but parenting a child is still fraught with challenges, whether it's a Cave Mom teaching her son to share rocks or it's a Soccer Mom teaching her daughter to share iPods. For me, the hardest thing about being a parent in 2012 is this:
To put down my f**king phone.
It's not that I'm texting friends when I should be playing Legos, or that I'm checking email when I should be reading about Curious George. When your phone is a camera and a voice recorder and a video camera and a photo editor and a blogging tool and a way to tell all the grandparents what's going on, the natural instinct is to get it all on tape (surely that expression is on it's way out). Let me record every tower, every costume, every utterance, I think, so that she'll have one heck of a rehearsal dinner video one day.
My parents didn't have the challenge of having to parent with a 4" connection to the world in their hands. Cameras were trotted out on vacation or at ballgames, never for lining up Little People or naming stuffed animals.
I don't think I can be a great parent if my daughter begins to think half of my face is usually blocked by a magical rectangle that has the ability to bring her Elmo on demand.
Parenting – and life – happens in between online posts and updates. It happens when we least expect it. And when it does, when those memorable moments of teaching and learning and being happen, the best thing we can do is put down our phone and live as deeply and authentically as we can in that moment.
Capturing everything so we can tweet it and share it and edit it isn't living. I don't care how second nature our phone or computer usage has become or how more connected (is that even possible?) my daughter will be when she's a mom. When the need to record or document becomes greater than my need to be present, I've become more journalist than dad.
That's not what I signed up for.
Here's to putting down our phones today until Grandma calls.