As I ran around the kitchen trying to get dinner prepared, thinking about the paperwork I needed to complete before I went to bed, the calls I needed to make and the coordination of the many other things on my never-ending to-do list, my son, CJ, was chattering away asking one question after another. I answered his questions as best I could as I sliced the zucchini and onion for the vegetable portion of our dinner. I was fully engaged with him as I “multi-tasked” or better yet “mommy-tasked,” so I thought.
Then, with urgency in his voice, CJ said, “Mommy, I need to tell you something.” Still moving around the kitchen at a fast pace, I could hear the want in his voice as he uttered, “I need you to stop for a moment, so I can tell you something.”
I said, “in a minute honey.”
He said, “I need to tell you now, it’s important.”
A bit exasperated, I stopped. I bent down to his level and looked at my child. As our eyes locked onto each other I asked, “What do you need to tell me sweetie?”
He lifted his hands to my face and cupped my cheeks between the palms of his hands. CJ then looked at me with such seriousness in his face and said, “Mommy, when I talk to you, I need you to look at me.”
Boy, did that catch me off guard. He was so right. I gave him a big hug and said, “You are right, and mommy is sorry. I need to stop and look at you when we talk.” I quickly went over my crazy day in my head and realized I had been moving fast motion since I picked him up from school. I sat down next to him and holding his hand told him, “People are always more important than things,” and we talked.
As busy as I thought I was, nothing was or is more important than being present with my son. I was grateful that he was comfortable enough to tell me that he needed me to focus on him at that moment because he had something he wanted to share with me. It struck me that although I was close enough to reach out and touch my 7-year-old child who sat patiently at the kitchen table watching my every movement, I might as well have been in another room away from him. Until he bought it to my attention, I was oblivious to the fact that my busyness had not allowed me to be fully present for him at that moment. Ouch!
I will never forget that conversation. Although it took place 15 years ago it is still fresh in my heart. As a parent it made me more aware that when with my child, there would be many times that I would need to slow down or come to a complete halt and focus on him, so that he would know that I was always available and open to hearhim at any time.
Today, many of us find ourselves enveloped in our dependence on technology 24/7. Its use reaches almost every aspect of our everyday lives. The populace has become reliant on mobile phones, smart watches, social media, shows on demand around the clock as newer gizmos and gadgets are being devised to deliver efficiency and make life easier. The down side is the constant use makes it trickier to be fully present with those we care about.
Studies have shown that the connection and intimacy needed to maintain and build strong families units and meaningful friendships and relationships is being lost because it is harder to stay fully present if one is not willing to turn off technology and focus on people from time to time.
It takes intentional one on one, face to face time to build strong bonds in relationships. People need people, and people are definitely more important than things. Having live exchanges is far different then texting back and forth. Yes, technology can enhance the ability to communicate with others more often. Yes, we need it and yes, we love technology, but perhaps individually we should each consider to what degree and technology “gets in the way” of each of us spending time to be fully present with those we care about.
There is something very special about being in close proximity to a person you can see, touch, hold, perhaps even kiss, hug, laugh and cry with. Being near someone you care for and able to look into eyes that can look back into yours as you both savor the time spent being fully present cannot be replaced with anything technology offers. Yes, slow down and really look at the person who sits patiently wanting to talk to you.
Regina Gale is a speaker and writer who loves to sing and loves to dance. Local author of “Sometimes He Buys Me Grapes” a memoir of the song and dance of life from a seasoned woman’s heart. www.reginagale.com.