Visual media are a complete time sink for me; whether it’s television, the Internet, or books, I can sit to amuse myself with one of them for “just a few minutes,” and before I know it, an hour (or more) has passed. My oldest daughter is similarly challenged. The result of this has been a “no television until after dinner” rule in our house, which only bends when there’s a flattening illness, and my general restraint from reading non-children’s books during the tribe’s waking hours.
The Internet is my absolute downfall, though. If there is a computer on in the house, then at some point during the day, I will have a burning desire to go check Facebook, read email, explore the news of the day. When I can school myself to quickly read the article confirming that the house shaking was, in fact, and earthquake, this is not particularly problematic, but when (as is generally the case) the world is full of interesting things that bear further investigation, there goes my afternoon.
This particular weakness of mine bit my backside yesterday. Two of my greatest pleasures of each day are the morning and evening storytimes I share with my wee literary appreciation society, and last night, I missed one. After all the tiny people had been fed, bathed, and wrangled into pajamas, I sat in my usual spot on the couch and, to my sorrow, opened the laptop to see what my friends were posting on Facebook. My oldest daughter wandered over with a book and asked me to read it. I replied that I would do so as soon as I finished my browsing; she dropped the book on the floor and wandered off to her room. Twenty minutes later, when my husband came home from work, I was still browsing, and the three kids who can walk ran to Daddy to see if he might be convinced to work on an art project with them. He was quite easily convinced, as it happens, and by the time the project was complete, it was past bedtime. Four tired little blessings snuggled up in their cozy beds with nary a story being read by me.
Lest I be misunderstood, I am fully aware of the need for “mommy time” during the day. There are moments when I simply must do something that doesn’t involve parenting for five or ten minutes, and I am very strict about an hour’s quiet time at midday (oh, how I miss the days when that was an actual nap time for all of them), so that all of us can recharge. I’m not such an ascetic that I deny myself any of my own amusements dring the day, but if I allow myself to get started with the visual media, my own history tells me that important things will be overlooked — and some of those things are critically important to me. Missing evening storytime, that half-hour when a succession of small people snuggle up in my lap with their favorite books, and we all enjoy them together, usually with a great deal of laughter and playing of “I Spy” with letters and words, is a critical omission to me.
Today’s prayer: Lord, You have given me four little blessings, and the means to bring them up in ways that are pleasing to You. You have also given me a lively mind, which is adept at finding ways to instruct and to entertain, and a rich selection of methods of exercising the intellect You gave me. Thank You for the bounty of Your gifts! Please give me the wisdom to seek those entertainments which do not disorder my priorities, and please remind me that every time I tell Your blessings, “Just a moment,” and put my entertainment ahead of their needs, I am teaching them something unpleasant about how I, and You, expect them to treat their friends, siblings, parents, and eventually their own children. Remind me to show Your love for me, and mine for You and for them, in my responses to their queries.
And Lord, please remind me that the years when storytime with Mommy is a priority for Your blessings are made precious by their brevity.