I know what you’re thinking, “…collaborate and listen.” But no. This is not a story about my love for Vanilla Ice. 

Stop. My mind whispers to me. Stop. This is a moment. A moment you’ll want to remember. Stop. 

I am a mama who loves my phone. {And a little Vanilla Ice, every now and then.} I’ll admit it. Maybe you do, too? Or maybe you’re one who scoffs at the mom at the park while her children play. While I love all the articles about putting down your phone for all of eternity. The blogs about not taking so many photos of the moment but rather being present in them. The words from mamas who talk about not ever needing social media. I love all of these philosophies in idea-form. But I can’t seem to adhere to them in reality.

I started blogging shortly after I found out I was pregnant with my first-born. Almost 8 years ago. For the last eight years, I have chronicled moments from my life and my mind on the internet. Shortly after my first son was born, I found myself — a first-time stay-at-home-mom to a screaming, colicky newborn — in desperate need of social interaction. So previously a staunch opponent of this thing called Facebook, I signed up for an account. And I found that each day, I still felt connected to the world even though I had been feeling so isolated. And then, then… a few years down the road I took the plunge from my much-favored flip phone, the phone that I swore I would never cast away in favor of these so-called “smart phones”… I got my first iPhone. And it was all downhill from there.

I love social media. I do. I am a mama who has found connections and support and friendships even from Facebook and blogging and Instagram. And I have decided that it’s not something I’m going to apologize for or feel diminished as a mom because of. I like waking up, scrolling through IG, and seeing what Ellen and Jimmy Fallon were up to on their shows the day before. I like logging onto Facebook and seeing funny memes and hearing updates from my friends’ lives, “hearing” their political rants, or putting tiny tidbits of their lives into their life stories. Heck, I adore having a place to share about my ups and downs of motherhood and of life and receive thoughts and feelings back.

But my feelings on screens and social media and the time I spend with it all has changed a bit since I had a life-changing cancer diagnosis. This isn’t a “I’m calling you out” post, friends. It’s a “I’m calling me out post.’  Because I think I used to lean on social media simply because I was bored. Or my children were driving me to drink. I think I used it as an escape from what I found a sometimes mundane or monotonous daily life, of staying home — as terrible as that is to admit. Because I love my children. I think I just questioned my purpose. And the lather, rinse, repeatedness of a stay at home day after day life. And then, Cancer said, “This is it. This is not mundane or monotonous. This is the good stuff. You are lucky. Wake the freak up, woman.” The moments where my children were playing quietly, those were moments I would retreat to my virtual land and then I started realizing that if I never got to witness that in person again, I would be heartbroken. The moments where the Littlest is dressing himself up in costumes, that is not a moment where I must must must take a photo… sometimes it’s a moment where smiling at him and getting a mental picture is better than any picture could do justice. Even the times where one of the three are flailing themselves on the ground in a fit, instead of turning to my phone, I now find myself sometimes watching that moment and laughing in my mind. Because I am realizing that “those” days will too soon be just that… those days. So for me, cancer was something… a force… a time that I made it a priority to say, “Mama. Stop. And stare.” 

I find, each day, that I do it more and more now. Stop. And stare. And commit to memory the faces of these children of mine in each of their days. I put into my mind the sound of their giggles. I place in my heart, the feeling of their small pecks upon my shortly shorn head. I hold in my bones the feeling of holding them upon my chest in the darkness of their rooms when they still want to snuggle in close. And I won’t ever let go first. No ma’am. I hold in my hands, the feeling of holding theirs at the dinner table as we commune in prayer and thanks for the day. Knowing that soon we will all have busy schedules and dinner will be in the style of grab and go. I hold in my legs, the feeling of them running around them and one, still reaching up around me, grunting with requests. I place in my eyes, the visions of them playing together as if they will forever be this size. I find that I stop and stare. And let motherhood be my world. For more of their moments than I used to. 

I doubt I will ever give up my smart phone ways. I am a millenial mama. One who’s caught in the middle of a movement for parents to either be all-present or totally hands-off. And falls somewhere in between those movements. A mama who wants to make sure I remember the smallest of moments. And who also wants to have an identity of her own. And who has decided that for her life, there’s a balance to that that works. So I am fairly certain I will continue to Insta and Face and Twit. Because I like that stuff. I do. So sue me. I will likely continue blogging until the Internet shuts me down. Because my blog has become my space. My thing. But I do find myself less obsessed with being constantly current or on top of it all. People know that my text back percentage, especially right now, is incredibly low. And it’s generally because I just don’t always have my phone at the ready anymore. Because this day is the only one I know I have. And so much of the feeling of this day, oddly, can’t be caught in a picture. Or relived through video. Or captured in a blog post. So much of life’s presence can only be re-felt by being present in the first place. 

So. I stop. And stare. 

And then, I pick up my phone a little while later {I’m not gonna lie here…}. I check out what’s going on. I read my fave blogs. I update my page or snap a photo of my babes. And then I put the phone back on the counter. Or up on my nightstand. Somewhere out of reach.

Today, if you haven’t, stop… and stare. Feel a moment with your child. Be present. Commit that moment, mentally, to memory. And then snap a selfie of you together if you want. Find your own balance.

Stop. And stare. It’s worth it. That’s the good stuff. And we won’t even know that until it’s gone.

Ashli Brehm

Ashli Brehm = Thirtysomething. Nebraska gal. Life blogger. Husker fan. Creative writer. Phi Mu sister. Breast cancer survivor. Boymom. Premie carrier. Happy wife. Gilmore Girls fanatic. Amos Lee listener. Coffee & La Croix drinker. Sarcasm user. Jesus follower. Slipper wearer. Funlover. Candle smeller. Yoga doer. Pinterest failer. Anne Lamott reader. Tribe member. Goodness believer. Life enthusiast. Follow me at http://babyonthebrehm.com/