The other day in the camp pick-up line I did what has become my new norm when I have anything more than two minutes free: I started to scroll through my social media apps. This is a particularly long pick-up line so I made it through both my Instagram accounts (I have a Star Sisters public account and a personal private account) and moved onto Facebook, where a posting by a friend stopped me in my tracks and possibly changed my life. It was a link to this article, which is generally about being patient with your children but, on a deeper level, about being present for your children. The article led me to the Hands Free Mama website, which had me crying in about ten seconds flat. Stomach clenching, quiet tears that I cried from the front seat of my minivan with my youngest babe strapped into her car seat behind me.
I don't even want to try to summarize Hands Free Mama because it's the kind of site that will mean different things to different people. But what I took away from it is that I am missing things. Little things that are actually big things. I have the privilege of working from home, but because I constantly have my phone in my hand and I'm always multitasking, I'm also always distracted. And this behavior is making my head spin and my patience level very, very low. This is something I had been worrying about for a while, which is probably why I began crying the minute I started reading another mom's thoughts and struggles with the topic.
I was not always like this. Before Star Sisters, I posted on Facebook a total of four times in six years. Honestly, the first time I posted about Star Sisters it took me a good ten minutes to figure out how to put my Star Sisters website on my Facebook status update. (Who knew you just typed in the website address and Facebook automatically put in the hyperlink? Not I!). And now I'm on social media all the time trying to promote my books. For example, I recently learned that a MAJOR movie star has my first book. She's an actress who I've worshipped since I was twelve years old and I literally shrieked when I found out that, just last week, someone gave her a copy of Star Sisters and the Royal Wedding. And she liked it! She was going to read it with her kids! So now I follow this mega celebrity on Instagram and I try to comment on most of her posts. What am I hoping for? Anything, really. A tweet, a hashtag, an endorsement, or any kind of photo of her holding the book would be game changing for me. But really, that's probably never going to happen. And this actress is only one example. I also follow a lot of mom bloggers and I'm constantly commenting on their photos. It's like I'm a desperate teenager doing all kinds of stupid things to get attention.
Ok, maybe I'm being a tad dramatic, but my point is that my behavior is making my head spin and I need to change my ways. I LOVE my books. I will do almost anything to make them a success. I will wake up insanely early to write and stay up insanely late filling orders. But I will not sacrifice my relationship with my children. I will not miss moments with them because I'm telling some total stranger with 60,000 followers how amazing I think her recent vacation looked. For me, I think that means being more disciplined. It means taking ten minutes a day to scroll through Instagram after my kids go to sleep, not two minutes five times a day. It means realizing that most famous mom bloggers are not going to write about my books and being okay with that because there are so many amazing moms out there who are spreading the word to their amazing friends. It means taking a big old chill pill.
So that's where I'm at, trying to stop my head from spinning. And can I tell you, when I put my phone down in that pick-up line and I looked out the window, I saw some incredible things. I saw my oldest daughter doing cartwheels in the grass, her hair soaking wet from the swimming pool. I saw my middle daughter give her friend the most adorable good-bye wave (she waves like a pageant contestant with a cupped hand and it's the cutest thing ever). I saw a counselor wearing a t-shirt from my college, which brought back all kinds of memories. And I heard my youngest daughter squeal with joy as she spotted a neigh-neigh (horse) and her big sisters all at the same time. Of course, all of this only made me cry harder, but sometimes a good cry is a good thing, right?