I love having my phone on silent. Even though my phone is consistently within reach, having it on silent makes me feel a little more free of it and maybe even a little disconnected. So when my grandma called me this morning it was only by chance that I noticed the iPhone’s screen light up, catching it out of the corner of my eye.
Of course, when your phone is on silent there are missed phone calls and missed texts. You sacrifice a little instant communication, but you gain some uninterrupted down time from the phone. It has become habit for me to switch my phone to silent while I am winding down for the night. At some point the next day, usually, mid-morning, I’ll turn the ringer back on.
Switching my phone’s ringer on this morning after my talk with my grandma made me think of that first night Kate and I were back from the hospital after London’s birth. I had reached over to my phone on the nightstand and switched it to silent. That immediately felt like a dumb thing to do and it slowly dawned on me that as long as London is in the NICU, my phone will never be on silent. It will rarely be anywhere other than my pocket. Its volume will always be at least 3/4 of max.
For 109 days, I did not want my phone to ring because a call, I assumed, would be bad news. But for 109 days, it was also imperative that I never miss a call or a single text message. If it was the NICU calling, then I could not afford to miss whatever breaking news they had to tell me, no matter how dire it may have been. Nowadays, the smartphone is a natural accessory to our everyday lives and, while we were living out a hyper-alert and worried stage of our lives, it made sense to make sure all avenues of communication stayed open.
When London did come home, I vividly remember taking great pleasure in muting the ringer on my iPhone that first night. It was ceremonial. A little victory. And in the morning, a big victory, not having to hop in the car and drive to the hospital in order to see my daughter.