Red Light

I did the math.

Approximately 19.8 years of my life have been spent either pregnant or nursing one of my seven children.

I don’t need a Mother of the Year Award to remind me of this incredible feat.  I have seven pretty special reminders who make it time best spent.

Yet as one might imagine, I have also lost a lot of sleep.  I need a reset button on my circadian rhythm as I still find myself binge-watching Friends on Nick At Night often at 3:00am.  I am certain that I have seen all 236 episodes twenty times over.

I still laugh…even at 3:00am.

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On a recent sleepless morning while watching my good friends, Ross, Rachel, Monica, Chandler, Phoebe and Joey laughing it up at Central Perk, I noted something extraordinary.  In today’s world, they would never make it to Episode 3.

You see, these friends actually talked to each other.  They looked at each other when they spoke.  They laughed with and at each other.  They knew how to argue and how to make up.

And there was not an iPhone 11 Pro Max in sight.

I believe that in today’s world Rachel and friends would be spending their time Snapchatting, Instagramming, Pinning, Tik-Tokking and taking selfies instead of strumming along to Smelly Cat.  Their arguments would surely play out on Facebook instead of face-to-face.  Venom is easier to spit from a distance.

Yes, if Friends were to be viewed in today’s culture, I don’t think there would be much to watch.  But in so many figurative ways, I’m already watching.

My older kids prove my Friends theory every day.  One can’t ride shotgun in my Suburban without taking a selfie or snapchatting her friends a pic of her mom’s eyerolls.  Another just glares at his phone and laughs out loud all by himself. Group texts are only laughable to a party of one.

The cell-phoners and tablet-users in our house spend excessive amounts of time in their rooms silently communicating with their fingertips.

Spend any amount of time with a group of tweens and teens and it will not take you long to observe exactly what I am saying.  Imagine not going to summer camp because you can’t use your cellphone.  Imagine traveling only to locations in the world that have cell service.  Connectivity is disconnecting us in rapid fire.

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And apparently details are not important anymore. Did you know that the average Tweet is only 33 characters?  Writing anything close to 280 characters, the Twitter-sphere limit, is a stretch. Don’t be fooled into thinking that our children’s generation can actually TALK on their phones either.  I’ve watched, listened, and cringed.

There are no little love notes.  No handwritten thank you’s for scrapbooks.  No doodles drawn or poems written.  No matter how sweet the words, we are living in a world of short text messages that will most certainly land in the bottom of a digital trashcan. Snapchats can literally disappear within seconds.

Watching a family on their phones while eating dinner out used to just irritate me.  Now it makes me tearful.  Silence can be deafening.

And to be totally truthful…to be shamefully honest… I am guilty too.

I grab my phone first thing in the morning. I frequently check my phone when I take the kids to the park or the pool.   I sometimes catch up on emails while waiting at swim practice instead of playing basketball with the littlest of kiddos.  I talk on the phone while driving.

Once I even ran a red light because I was too deep in a phone conversation.   It was truly a wakeup call.  Yet texting and driving is where I draw the harshest of lines. There is no text message worth risking a life.

Real communication, real relationships, real time spent with those most important to us is in real jeopardy. You can’t have real friendships if everyone on the couch or at the table is glued to their phones and tablets instead of each other.

Yet change starts with me. It starts with you.  We are the role models, rule-makers, and game changers. We cannot mandate our kids to unplug without taking a good look in the mirror.

For me and my house, we are going to strive to do better.  This Christmas, my family and our cousins will be sitting on a grandparent’s couch sipping coffee and hot chocolate and talk to one another without a phone in sight.

We will laugh.  We will play games.  We will listen.  We will argue.  We will make up.  We will love each other in ways that will be long remembered.

My Friends have kept me company on many a sleepless night and taught me life lessons along the way.  My hope is for us all to enjoy more Central Perk moments this holiday season!

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