This Blog Post Written by Tiffany Burke, Surrogate Mother This is a little off topic from the surrogacy story, but I feel compelled to write about it. It starts out a little controversial but hopefully will end on a good note.
A photo was brought to my attention the other day that made me stop what I was doing and rethink a lot of things. The photo (pictured below) is of a newborn baby, just minutes old, snuggled up on mom's chest. Both mom and dad are on their phones... texting (or Facebooking... or... working?). Neither is looking at the other, or the baby. They are plugged in and updating people. I was initially really mad at the parents. How can they not be living in the moment? How can they just be on their phones so quickly? Could updating their friends and family really not wait a few moments? They are missing one of the best parts of life. Watching their child take its first breaths, counting fingers and toes, touching the skin that feels like air.... I didn't understand. What could be more important than being with their baby? After more thought, I started to feel like there is some sort of pressure and obsession in society today to over connect, to be too plugged in. To update everyone ASAFP (As Soon As F-ing Possible) when something exciting (or not exciting - pictures of our food) in our life happens.
I started to think about all the other places I have been lately where people are too plugged-in, mostly on their phones. We all know texting and driving is a big issue...I won't even get into that now. But I was at my son's swim lessons a few weeks ago and the majority of the parents were texting/FBing or whatever it is they do on their phones. I can't count the number of times my son looked up at me with a smile on his face to see if I was watching him with his new swim moves. The rest of the parents were just missing it. Missing their little lives, their little moments. At the park a few weeks ago, a dad was texting the entire time he was pushing his little girl on the swing. At one point, she flipped off the swing and got hurt. One of the biggest places I see over plugged-in people is at weddings. As a wedding photographer, I have pretty much seen it all. At a recent wedding, a lady was in the back of the church on her phone reading the news (photo below). In the middle of the vows. Okay, seriously?! She was missing it all. People are taking photos with their phones and posting and tagging so instantly, it's almost as if the wedding is streaming live online. It's one thing to be grabbing fun photos (I get it, I do it for a living and love having those moments as well) but it takes time to upload to your social media, tag, comment, like etc. and it is really pulling us away from the moments happening right in front of us. A wedding is one of the most beautiful moments you can witness, really getting to watch two people who love each other, as they become "one" and celebrate that love. It actually is a cool experience and many people are so busy taking photos or updating their status that they are missing the actual event and the actual moments. I would love to see people take the photo they want (or trust that the wedding photographer will get the photo) then put the phones and cameras away and live in the moment.
Now, before I sound like I am on a soap box here (possibly too late and I am sorry if it is too late), let me remind you how guilty I am as well for being too plugged-in. Although I do not own a smart phone (in fact, currently NO cell phone and loving it), I am really plugged in online. My job requires a lot of online attention and we do share our surrogacy story very openly online as it is happening, while filming and, at times, photographing it. I am guilty of saying to my kids, "One more minute..." while I finish emailing clients, or tagging them in their sneak peek. Just as I was writing this blog post, my seven year old came up and begged me to read him one chapter in Adventures According to Humphrey. How could I say no? Of course I stopped blogging and went to be with him. This is not always the case when it comes to my work and deadlines and sometimes, just plain old goofing off on Facebook and getting lost in the time-suck that it is. I am involved in WAY too many FB groups, all of which I keep telling myself serve a great purpose in my life (and they do ... but also, really? Do they?), but they suck time from me and I want to start breaking free more. Why do I have to be online so much?
In the defense of those stuck online, on phones and plugged in too much, I think everyone needs time off from the real world. Time off from the responsibilities required of us and sometimes being plugged into our phones or ipads or computers provides us with that "zone out" time. We get to zone out but still feel connected, we can read a great story online, or feel not as alone by connecting with a blog. We can catch up on our friends lives through their updated photos and travels using Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. We can share recipes on Pinterest. Perhaps the dad at the park was a single dad, and played one on one all day with his little girl and now that she was finally sitting still, on the swing, he was able to have a moment during the day to text? I have no idea. I really don't want to judge myself and others too harshly, but I do want to bring to our attention that I feel too many of us are guilty of being too plugged-in and missing some really amazing moments in this fabulous life we have all been given.
So what is the answer? Quit the social media world cold turkey? Stop texting as much? Stop updating? Have designated online time for yourself (not more than 30 min/day)? I don't have the answers, but I had an idea that may encourage everyone to find their OWN personal solution. I have asked my readers to send in real, raw, emotional moments caught on camera from their lives. I asked for photos taken by them or taken professionally. Now ironically, these moments were caught on camera or phone and then shared now online on a blog - PLUGGED-IN! I know, I know. But these images needed to be seen and shared. I think the images speak for themselves about all the amazing moments out there that we are missing by being too attached to our phones and social networking. Take the photo, capture the moment, post later. By all means, take the photo! Of course! Or you can hire someone else to take those pictures for you (as many people did in the photos below and, no, this is not a shameless plug for hire\ing professional photographers). If you hire someone else, you can LIVE in your moment and have the photo for later, best of both worlds. Or have no cameras at all and just live in the moment. Whatever you decide, maybe it's time to stop being so plugged in during the moment. Your Facebook status can wait, the moment cannot wait. You will NEVER get this moment back, ever. Breathe it in, enjoy those tiny fingers and toes, take in an extra snuggle before work, listen to the silly story your child is telling you, listen to the rain. You don't know if this will be your last moment with the people you love, or if it will be your last moment period. Don't chance it anymore. Everything else can wait. The people on Facebook who read your status updates can wait another day. I received over 100 photos in the span of 24 hours, and it was really hard to narrow them all down. So many images touched my heart. With the help of my adoring husband, we narrowed down the top images we hope make an impact on you. I hope they inspire you to stop what you are doing online or on your phone and start living in the moment. These images captured below are big and small events in life that I wish we could all drink up. Make sure you read the captions for even more depth to each story. Also, thank you to everyone who sent in images, I was overwhelmed with joy and genuinely loved them all! I would love for you to comment below if you feel we as a society are too plugged in and not enjoying the moments anymore. Are you personally too plugged in? Also feel free to comment below about what image touched you and why! Warmly, Tiffany Burke 30 weeks pregnant with surrogate twins.
“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.”
A mother is hugging and loving on her children, not even aware that dad has snapped the photo.
Tori, who has cerebral palsy, was enjoying the summer heat when an unexpected hose spray came from her step dad. Photo courtesy of Catch the Light Photography.
After a yearlong deployment, CPT Tsilianos, returns home and is greeted by his wife, Tara, who says tears of joy overtook her breathing the moment she saw him.
Mother, Jodi, holds her son, baby Kash, for the first time, 9 days after his birth. After 6 years of infertility, their IVF cycle was successful. Their son Kash was born at 34 weeks with complications that put him in the BC Children's NICU for 3 months, including his first Christmas. This photo was taken after 2-3 surgeries he had already gone through. He was a fighter.
A groom sees his bride for the very first time on their wedding day. His emotions are priceless. Photo courtesy of Michelle Newell Photography.
Mother, Laura, holds her baby girl, Penelope, after having a home water birth. Her husband, Thoren kisses his wife while crying with joy.
Baby George squeals with joy as he goes down a slide. A simple pure moment of enjoying life.
Little Eilleillwy holds her newborn sister, Bloddueth, very protectively. Since the moment Bloddueth was born, Eilleillwy was very protective over her and they had a very strong sisterly bond. Sadly, baby Bloddueth passed away 7 months later.
Siblings, (from left to right) Charlyse, Saraya, James, and Patrick, enjoy a summer afternoon playing cricket together. James is 8 years old and has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. It's a genetic muscle-wasting disease that is both incurable and terminal. Most boys die in their teens. He is transitioning from standing to a wheelchair full-time, so playing games like this is becoming more difficult, and eventually he won't be able to do anything but watch as the disease ravages his body and finally his heart. But that won't stop his family from making sure he lives an amazing life and experiences as much as possible.
Mona stares adoringly at her dad, Henri, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer shortly before this photo was taken. He really wanted to make pancakes but he was too tired to stand at the stove, so they brought a dining room chair in for him to sit on. You can see Mona's cheek is packed with pancakes. Sadly, Henri passed away 7 months later.
Little Ellesha cries at the wedding of her mother, as the groom was giving his vows. He was saying how he would love Ellesha as his own, for now and for always. Not ever having a father until now, Ellesha cried with joy and so did the entire room.
An intended mother, watches as her baby is born via surrogacy. Photos courtesy of surrogate, Didi Perry, and her awesome daughter who captured the moment!
A father, Evan, is reunited with his daughter, Lauren, after being deployed for 8 months.
Mother, Autumn, holds her baby girl, Everbee for the first time after her at home water birth.
Little Emma received her first hair cut ever. She wanted to surprise her brother and cousin and this is their reaction, their "first look" at her new cut. She cut off over 6 inches which is a big deal for that age! Photo courtesy of Amanda Kay Photography.
Little Grant acts like a typical little boy in an airplane heaven, soaring through the airplanes, just being a little boy and enjoying the moment. Photo courtesy of Evantide Photography.
Father, Adam, meets his son, Noah, for the very first time since being deployed. He gazes down with joy at his beautiful son. Picture courtesy of Evantide Photography.