The Playroom: Smartphone diaries


Author: Maraya Steadman '89, '90MBA

Maraya Steadman

My iPhone is broken and I am eating nonstop, a bona fide bender. Contemplating driving to the nearest Krispy Kreme donut store, but it’s 30 miles away. So instead of donuts, I’ve eaten those cinnamon rolls you buy in a tube that is slightly longer than the one toilet paper comes on and I’ve licked the frosting out of the container in the bottom.

I call a friend for intervention, but he lost 30 pounds in rehab so all he can do is say “Ewww.”

I feel twinges of nausea and wonder if maybe I’m experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Or might it just be that I am eating cinnamon rolls you buy in a cardboard tube and chasing them with Diet Pepsi?

I pick up my phone and try to use it one more time. It’s still dead, nonfunctional. I can’t even read my messages.

I hit the computer and start sending the news to my friends and family. “I’ve killed my iPhone and can’t get a new one for a month. I am without my phone for 30 days.”

The emails start coming back.

“OMG, you’re joking, isn’t there anything you can do?” “That sucks!” “What are you going to do?” “OMG!!!” “Can you text?”

And from my mother a desperate plea to go out and get one of those cell phones you buy at the 7- Eleven, so at least I have something.

I have nothing.

Day 2
OMG. This does suck.

Day 3
I have no phone.

Day 5
I am still reaching for my phone at stoplights to check my email, but my phone isn’t there.

Day 7
I envy the other mothers at pick up, sitting in their cars, checking emails, clearing their voicemail, talking to friends, posting on Facebook. I can only look out the window at the flowers and the trees, the laughing children.

Day 9
I ask my husband if we can donate my phone to charity so at least someone can still use it. He explains to me that you only donate phones that still work. And he admonishes me for cleaning off the barf with baby wipes, spilling my coffee all over it and spraying it with sunscreen. I remind him that I did not drop it in the toilet or the spaghetti sauce and that perhaps I should get some reciprocal credit for things I didn’t do.

He responds, “Throw it away.”

Day 10
Digging through the garbage.

Day 16
Saturday evening at the grocery store, I want to call my husband to start the fire. I can’t. I’m going to lose 20 minutes off my life here because I’m not being as efficient as possible. If I had my phone, the grill would be ready when I got home. Now we will have to wait for 20 minutes. Disaster.

Day 17
My friends start calling my husband’s cell phone. This works well over the weekend. His phone rings and he hands it to me.

Day 19
My husband walks out of a negotiation to answer his phone. It’s my friend. She’s at Costco and wants to know if I need laundry detergent.

He reminds her that he is at work, in the middle of a negotiation, and not able to ask me if I need laundry detergent.

Day 20
We run out of laundry detergent.

Day 25
Acceptance. Recognizing that maybe I was too attached to my iPhone. Maybe I did spend too much time downloading apps and checking email, calling friends, texting babysitters.

Day 27
I realize it’s kind of liberating not being able to check my email 15 times a day.

Day 30
Sitting in the back yard with my husband, talking, laughing and waiting for the grill to heat up. I’m not talking on the phone or checking my messages or texting babysitters.

I am enjoying my husband’s company, looking at the trees and ivy growing up the wall. I notice bugs crawling over the planks of the deck, getting stuck and trying again. I laugh at them, the bugs and their silliness, their frustration.

I wonder if bugs get frustrated or if they just repeat the same actions over and over and over again, without knowing what they are doing, without realizing they aren’t accomplishing anything.

Listening to my children play, I breathe in, let go and turn off my new phone.

Maraya Steadman, who lives in a Chicago suburb, is a stay-at-home mother of three children. She can be reached at

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