Dear every person whose path I just came across,

I am not calling you out or judging you. I swear I’m not. I’ve been there. I’ve done that. I have been . . . you.

I share this because of the cumulative interactions I had from the moment I rolled into that parking lot.

It began with a woman pulling into the spot next to my car, extra close because she was maneuvering her car single-handedly. I did a double-take. Because. So close.
And then she proceeded to balance her device on her ear while opening her car door, gabbing away. I made my way around to the hatch of my car. Her loud-talking startled me as she moved in my direction.

Next thing I knew a piggy-tailed seven-year-oldish girl made her way around the side of the car. In a mini-mouse-like-voice, she muddled, “Mom, look!” The loud-talker continued her conversation about this and that.

“Look, Mom. I want to show you this,” the little girl said while holding up a piece of paper.

But, still. Nothing.

Sigh. 

I walked through the sliding glass doors and waited to grab a cart behind another woman who awkwardly worked to get her son fixed into a cart. She was juggling the strap one-handed while her eyes faced down checking her screen. I wanted to help. But. She hadn’t even noticed me waiting for her. I said, “Need a hand?” Still–she had no idea I was standing there.

Not two seconds later, I watched as a toddler reached and pulled a bag of chips off the rack and onto the floor while waiting in line at the store cafe. Only, this time it was a dad. Eyes down—scrolling away. He didn’t even gaze up long enough to acknowledge the Barista when asked if he wanted his receipt.

Sigh.

Next, a father-son duo passed by me on the way to the detergent aisle. Same. Side-by-side. Eyes down.

Sigh. 

As I looked around, whether alone or with a child or with grandma or other…phone in hand. Eyes down.

Moms.
Sisters.
Dads.
Teens.
Twenty-somethings.
Thirty-somethings
Forty-somethings.
Older.
Younger.
Alone.
Or not.
A collective same.

Sigh.

What. The. Heck???

Perhaps someone is running an online business. Or taking a call from a sick relative. Or checking the practice times for soccer or ballet lessons. Maybe she is returning a text from her husband who is deployed, or he is making a real estate deal. Maybe he/she needs a quick time out to scroll through social media because they just need a break. Maybe the call was important. Maybe it wasn’t. Maybe it was an urgent text.

Maybe it wasn’t.

I don’t know.

The sum of it all just made me think,

“What are WE doing?”

To our children. To each other.

There was no eye contact. There was no small talk in the parking lot, the check out line or while waiting for a cafe latte. You can’t even lend a hand to someone who needs it because people are too distracted to even hear you offer it.

The opportunities to make eye contact and smile at a passerby are becoming a thing of the past.

Everyone is looking down.

Sigh. 

This isn’t meant to add to an already overabundance of mom guilt. Or perpetuate the narrative of, “Kids these days!”

I have two of “those” kids. And, I am also one of “those” moms. I run an at-home business that relies on social media engagement, so I wholeheartedly understand the struggle. The impossible balance. The loneliness. The need for connection. I am a part of group texts, carpools, and I sometimes check my Instagram feed when I am out and about. I have taken the call from a deployed husband while in a store. And I have pulled into a parking spot chatting away with a girlfriend, failing to acknowledge the person standing next to me.

But.

What is the cost when we are physically out in our communities surrounded by our neighbors, but we do not turn our gaze up? We no longer look ahead. Or nod. Or acknowledge. Or connect.

I wonder how high the price will be. Will it be so great that we won’t even realize the cost until an entire generation becomes so disconnected from face-to-face relationships that personal relationships become obsolete?

I don’t know.

I guess I’ll start by tucking my Apple away the next time I head out amongst the people. I vow to use my baby blues and find someone who is willing to look up and say, “Hello!”

This article originally appeared on My Battle Call by Valli Gideons

 

Want more stories of love, family, and faith from the heart of every home, delivered straight to you? Sign up here!

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Valli Vida Gideons

I am a military bride, who writes about raising kids with cochlear implants, military life, and other things from the heart. Unrelated but not irrelevant... I have a degree in journalism and wrote my first short story in second grade about a walking/talking sponge; I've been an exercise instructor since my teen years (Flashdance sweatshirts, leg warmers and vinyl records to prove it); and may have been an extra on the vintage 90's hit, Beverly Hills 90210 (proof still found on VHS tapes). I got hypothermia in my first marathon at mile 25.5, but went on to kick butt the next six times I toed the line; I use to cut hair on Melrose Ave. in another life; and I am still besties with my two closest pals from elementary school, who encouraged me to share my story. This is my journey. I hope it provides a sliver of inspiration for anyone who is entering or in the midst of a fog. Follow my journey on Facebook and my blog!

You Have to Feel before You Can Heal

In: Living
Depressed woman in bed

“Nobody will protect you from your suffering. You can’t cry it away or eat it away or starve it away or walk it away or punch it away or even therapy it away. You have to endure it. You have to live through it and love it and move on and be better for it and run as far as you can in the direction of your best and happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by your own desire to heal.” -Cheryl Strayed How do you heal? You let the pain pass through you. You feel your feelings....

Keep Reading

I Didn’t Know How Much I Needed Other Mothers

In: Friendship, Living, Motherhood
Two mom friends smiling at each other

I read somewhere the other day that when a child is born, a parent is too. In my first few months being a mother, I’m learning just how odd that sentiment is. In an instant, I became someone new. Not only that, but I became part of a group I didn’t realize existed. That sounds wrong. Of course, mothers existed. But this community of mothers? I had no idea. It took us a long time to get where we are today. Throughout our journey with infertility, I knew in my heart I was meant to be a mother. I knew that...

Keep Reading

To the Extended Family That Shows Up: We Couldn’t Do This Without You

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood
Family visiting new baby in a hospital room

This picture—my heart all but bursts every time I see it.  It was taken five years ago on the day our daughter was born. In it, my husband is giving her her very first bath while our proud extended family looks on. It was a sweet moment on a hugely special day, but gosh–what was captured in this photo is so much more than that. This photo represents everything I could have ever hoped for my kids: That they would have an extended family who shows up in their lives and loves them so deeply.  That they would have grandparents,...

Keep Reading

Please Don’t Tell a Couple Trying to Conceive to Just Relax

In: Friendship, Living, Motherhood
Black-and-white photo of medical supplies

This is a plea. A plea to those who know someone who is struggling with infertility. So, if you’re reading this, this is directed right to you. Please, for the love of everything, when someone tells you they are struggling to conceive, do not tell them to “just relax.” I know it’s the cliche, default term most blurt out because they don’t know what else to say. It’s awkward to discuss for some. I’m 10000% positive it is coming from a good place and is meant to be calming and reassuring, and you really do believe it’s true because a...

Keep Reading

My Husband Having a Stroke at 30 Wasn’t in Our Plans

In: Faith, Living
Husband and wife, selfie, color photo

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV) This verse in the book of Jeremiah has long been a favorite of mine. In fact, it’s felt relevant across many life events. Its simple, yet powerful reminder has been a place of solace, perhaps even a way to maintain equilibrium when I’ve felt my world spinning a bit out of control. In this season of starting fresh and new year intentions, I find great comfort in knowing...

Keep Reading

That Mom at the Playground Could Become Your Best Friend

In: Friendship, Motherhood
Young mother sitting on bench looking at playground

I didn’t realize I was that mom at the playground. That mom who always smiles at the other moms even if she doesn’t know them. That mom who often makes small talk while she pushes her toddler on the swings. That mom who strikes up a conversation while sitting on the bench watching her older kid play. That mom who can often tell whether you are interested in talking to her or not. And if you don’t seem interested, that’s okay. Because maybe you’re preoccupied with other things going on in your life right now. Maybe you’re overwhelmed with the...

Keep Reading

The Shattering Grief of Suicide

In: Grief, Living, Loss
Sad person sitting in darkened hallway, black and white image

Navigating through my second Christmas without my dad, the weight of grief seemed even heavier this year. In fact, everything felt and looked different to me. As I unwrapped the ornaments and cards he gave me over the years, a tidal wave of madness and sadness engulfed me. I know many feel sadness and grieve during these times, but let me just say . . . suicide is a different type of grief. My vibrant, happy, physically fit dad committed suicide on April 30th, 2022. There, I said it. In the aftermath, a myriad of emotions consumed me. One perplexing...

Keep Reading

“I Can’t Do This Anymore,” He Said—Then Everything Changed

In: Living, Marriage
Woman with head in hands

The questions are very much valid. Did I know when I married him? Did I know when we struggled with infertility and trying to become parents? Did I know when we unexpectedly became pregnant with our second child? When did you know your husband was an alcoholic? The answer is simple yet so complex, I pretty much knew from the first year, yet I was in complete denial. When I met him, he was just my type—a bad boy with a bad reputation, yet so cute! On our third date or so, I saw how much he could drink and how...

Keep Reading

Mean Girls Aren’t Like the Ones You See In Movies

In: Friendship
Woman whispering in another woman's ear

Mean girls aren’t like Regina George. If they were, it would be easy to know to stay away from them. Not all mean girls are wealthy, image-conscious, stick-thin blondes. They also don’t always have the reputation of being “mean girls.” The problem is that mean girls are way worse than Regina George because they don’t look like mean girls. Mean girls can be your “friends.” Mean girls know how to gain and betray your trust. They are the girls who, on a rough day, ask you what’s going on not because they care about you, but so they can have...

Keep Reading

My Husband’s in Love with a Different Woman Now

In: Living, Marriage, Motherhood
Couple standing by Christmas decorations

He’s in love with a different woman now . . . I met my husband seven years ago. We got married and went on adventures. Went to some weddings and had a bunch of kids. Every Christmas party season, we would celebrate by going out to dinner . . . except this year that one dress didn’t fit. I had my husband try to zip it, and then my mom . . . there was no budging. I had been tiny, I had been heavy—sick and healthy. My weight had been a roller coaster always. But, this special dress had always...

Keep Reading