Monday, March 1, 2010

LadyMama Column: My Blackberry Baby

How many parents can say they successfully captured their child’s very first smile on camera? How many mothers wish they would have had their camera within reach when their child looked them in their eyes and revealed that first toothless grin?

I never had to make that wish or feel such regret. Thanks to an inseparable relationship with my Blackberry – a multimedia amusement park also known as a smartphone - I will forever have a picture of my son’s very first shining smile. As with every other attempt to capture the perfect shot, I was holding up my Blackberry camera and making funny sounds to get his attention when he broke out in his first charming smile. I went mad with joy and immediately sent the photo to my husband.

That first smile was exactly the clichĂ© I was told it would be – a slice of heaven. It was big and bright, with a twinkle in his eye, and gave me warm-fuzzies all over.

I have only one regret. I saw it through a screen.

I fell victim to the Blackberry craze just one month after I gave birth (a labor present of sorts). I immediately felt the joy in having a gadget that would allow me to capture pictures, videos and voice notes and instantly share them. My parents live on the West Coast and I wouldn’t tolerate them missing even one moment of their first grandchild’s life.

Month’s later and a tour through my Blackberry photo and video library showcases a unique collection of original works. “Morning Poop Kisses,” “Nakey Hug” “Sleeping with One Eye Open,” and “Sneeze Cough Smile” are actual titles of just a few of the hundreds of snapshots and clips to forever remember my baby’s many moments. With his every move (poops, laughs and even sneezes) recorded on my little device, there’s practically nothing left to witness! But thankfully, he is ever-changing and always entering unknown territory, leaving endless opportunities to record more original masterpieces. And when I do, it takes two seconds to – directly from my phone – e-mail the family, upload to Facebook, Twitter and my blog.

There’s no other way to put it. Thanks to my Blackberry, I have become my child’s own paparazzi. My right hand is always ready – like a cowboy and his holster – to record every share-worthy baby minute (Did you know that the stroller cup-holder fits a Blackberry perfectly?). But while many people complain of “Blackberry Thumb” – a sprain-like sensation from typing too much on their handheld – my problem is worse. And if things don’t change soon, I threaten the wellbeing of my family.

Admittedly, I often feel like I am observing my son through a screen - my Blackberry Baby. And the moments don’t seem to be as valuable as they once were. When I flip through my mobile photos to show a friend, it’s like nothing is precious. Oh, that picture? Eh, I have better. Ya, he’s smiling in that one…but look at this one! I wonder, if I accidentally pressed something and deleted all the files that are slowing down my phone…what would I have left? Do all my child’s adorable moments exist as strongly in my mind as they do on my Blackberry?

The benefit of having a media-miracle to aid in sharing my son’s life is obvious. Thanks to my Blackberry, my parents feel like they’re with me every step of the way. Recently, when I sent my mother a picture of the baby finally attempting to crawl, I got an immediate reply text: “Put socks on him! It’s cold!”

But with the advantages of being able to share every second comes the risk of watching my son’s life hurriedly pass on a screen. What would have happened had I not viewed my son’s first smile through a screen and quickly e-mailed it to every one? I probably would have saturated in the magical moment, let it linger just a little longer. It would have always been a distinctive event in both our lives. But instead, it’s only a picture. Yes, only a picture. It may be worth a thousand words, but it can never take the place of the indispensable mother and child moment I missed.

The other day, about fifteen minutes after putting my exhausted son down for a nap, I was typing on my computer when I heard him giggling uncontrollably. Before I went to his room, I quickly tried to locate my Blackberry so I could video him laughing. I then realized that the adorable giggling was, in fact, my ringtone. I forgot that, earlier in the day, I had recorded his giggles and set it as my default ringer. Wow, I thought to myself, I am completely hopeless.

As hard as it will be to reverse six months of constantly stalking my child with my Blackberry, I am ready to change. I have missed too many moments trying not to miss them. I can’t record my toddler’s every move if it carries the risk of distancing me from the involvement so necessary to his development, and our vital bond. To every mother who feels she might be raising a Blackberry Baby, my advice is simple: Put down your Blackberry. You don’t want to miss a thing.

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