The days are so long. It’s easy to take pictures and give them snappy little captions, then move on with your life without ever really thinking things through. See, that’s what I’ve done for the last year. The kids in this picture have been heavily photographed as documented every move we’ve made, all in the sacred name of Chatbooks. It’s simple, convenient, and you can make everyone look phenomenal with filters. But that’s not life. Instagram certainly isn’t real life either.

As I flipped through old photos, this one caught my eye. The kids are so much younger, as are we, yet I was blogging much more. But it wasn’t the photo that caused this deep heart change. No, it was a very un-special car ride with my son last week that made me ache to get back to the keyboard and delete Instagram from my phone. It was a cold December afternoon and as we sat at a red light, Brooks pointed to a man on the corner holding a cardboard sign.

“Mom, what’s he doing?”

I glanced up in my rear-view mirror to make eye contact. “Well,” I said, “He doesn’t have a home. He’s asking people for money or food.”

“Maybe he could come live in our house,” he suggested.

My heart has never been so warm. Sure, I’m a ragged, exhausted parent, certain I’m screwing up my kids most of the time. But then one of them says something like this and gives me hope that God is salvaging some of my efforts.

I don’t want to miss these moments. I don’t want to simply take cute photos of my kids. I want to put my phone away and engage with them fully, later following up on the page.  I love writing. I love my children. And I love making sense of this parenting life through words. I will go on making my Chatbooks, but the Insta-life doesn’t serve me well, so I’m moving on. Because there is nothing “insta” in this parenting game and it requires time and effort to fashion these kids and these thoughts and words. I can’t think of the perfect antonym for instant, but “slow-cooked” comes to mind, so that’s what I’m shooting for.

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