“My mother was always there, but never there.”
This quote has haunted me for years, in a good way. I can’t find the original source, but it is what I remember from an interview with the grown daughter of a well-known feminist editor. Her mom worked from home, but as far as her daughter was concerned, her mom was not present at home. She might as well not have been there at all.
I realized when I read this that it is possible to be a “stay-at-home mom” but not consistently stay at home. To be there for my kids in body but not in spirit. To get them breakfast, lunch, and dinner, provide clean clothes and shuttle service, but not give them my full attention.
Nothing less than my full attention is required, though, if I am to fulfill my biblical responsibilities as a mother: to teach them diligently (Deut 6:6-9), discipline them lovingly (Prov. 13:24), love them constantly (Titus 2:3-5).
And nothing can distract me from caring for my children faster than my Internet connection.
Going online takes the edge off the harder aspects of mothering. It thaws that icy feeling of isolation. It scratches that itch for “intelligent” conversation. It momentarily frees me from the mundane. And checking in with my phone or laptop for “just a moment” doesn’t seem like such a big deal.
But all of those moments come at a steep price. If my kids have to say my name three times before I look up because I’m glued to a fascinating article on my computer, or if I’m constantly checking my Twitter feed but fail to notice one of my children is speaking unkindly to his siblings, or if I go online every day (many times a day) but go several days in a row without praying for my children, what will my mothering legacy be?
One day, when my two sons and two daughters think back on their childhood home will they remember me as being fully, attentively, happily there?