Distracted

If I could describe most parents these days, it would be Distracted. I spend much of my day at parks, and a large majority of dads I see are on their phones the second their kids disappear down a slide, or even while they are pushing them on a swing. Reading articles, checking emails, messaging friends, or maybe even taking pictures to send to family so they feel included -- we are glued to these stupid little devices like they are essential for the survival of our race. Meanwhile, the children are practically crawling up their parents' legs, vying for their attention. (I single out dads, but moms certainly do it too -- I just see it more often in fathers. Whatever that means is another discussion.)

The shameful thing about it all, however, is that, though I am using my little digital soapbox to beckon you all to pay more attention to your kids, I do it too.

Lately I have been working on a Kickstarter to mix and master some of the music I finished recording last year. I never intended for it to become such an ordeal, but it has consumed my life! I find myself spending all day in front of the computer, editing videos or writing copy for the campaign. And though I believe in the project, it all really adds up to me missing tons of time with the kids; and like switching from a vegan diet to a more carnivorous one (which we recently did), it just doesn't feel good.

Taking the kids to skateparks is one of my favorite activities together, but I have certainly been known to ignore a crying child so I can land the trick I've been working on...to my shame. (Photo by Ellie)

But today I took a break. And you know what? It was nice! I spoke with my Mom, hung out (hanged out?) with the kids, did some dishes and laundry. The best part, however, was playing pretend library with the kids, working on sorting skills, and then doing puzzles with Waverly. Ellie has always been great at puzzles and amazed me at how skilled she is. Waverly hasn't shown such an affinity, but we also haven't worked with her as much. So I put in a little time today (very little, really) and she started picking up puzzle and problem solving skills at an amazingly fast rate. It taught me that all this distraction is really just pulling us away from our most important job -- investing in the next generation.

I feel like I've been writing about this a lot lately, but it just keeps coming up. I've spent so many years pursuing art as a career and a calling, which is an incredible consumption of time. But even if this good pursuit is exercised out of balance with the rest of my life, and particularly my daily priority of rearing good and thoughtful children, then am I really making a difference in this world? Or am I just being selfish? And though I write and think and discuss it often, I keep seeing it around me, which only spurs me on towards more writing and more thought and more discussion.

I fear that we Millennials are far too good at living for ourselves, pursuing our dreams and doing what we want to do (or what society tells us we should do), and not good enough at investing in others on a personal level. Even our philanthropic selves will post articles about climate change, take steps towards social justice or volunteer to provide for those less fortunate, but continuously ignore the two bright little eyes staring right up at us every day, beckoning for just a moment of our time. It's a conviction we need a constant reminder of, and one I pray my generation can fix before it's too late.

--
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-13)

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