Scene: A seafood restaurant
Observation: Mother tapping on iPhone while daughter excitedly points at and chatters about the various fish hanging on the wall.
Assumption: Mother ignoring daughter while checking Facebook and/or texting.
Reality: My daughter and I were looking up those fish online to see if we were right about what kind of fish they were.
Judge Me All You Want. I’m Done Apologizing.
Has my iPhone become a lifeline? You know what? It sometimes is my lifeline. It is the only thing that helps me to keep my sanity in a world where I am so busy that I have to keep lists and spreadsheets to make sure that I don’t miss something. These phones are no longer just a phone, or a way to text and be teenagery (yes, I made that word up and misspelled it!). These phones have become our computers, our datebooks, our Rolodexes. They keep track of our work, our schedules, our kids’ schedules, our husband’s schedules. They track our finances, let us pay bills on time no matter where we are, and get us where we’re going on time with the help of the annoying map-lady’s voice telling us every turn we need to take.
You see me poking at my iPhone screen while in the presence of my daughter and immediately assume that I am disconnected and ignoring her. This is your problem, not mine.
The smart phone did not create antisocial people; it simply made people who are already antisocial more obvious to the naked eye.
Consider the reality.
Sometimes I am jotting something down on a to-do or a grocery list that I need to not forget. Sometimes I am checking my calendar to make sure I haven’t missed a doctor’s appointment or a school event. Sometimes I am looking for the nearest pharmacy/Walmart/ice cream shop. Sometimes I am quickly responding to a business email or text. Sometimes I am reading!
If I were sitting there scribbling on a notepad, poring over a fold-out map, leafing through a phone book, or reading a paperback, no one would bat an eye. But because it’s a phone – *gasp* – I must be playing games or on Facebook or some other such evil that I am allowing to take my attention. News flash: I have maybe one game on my phone, which I use only in cases of extreme boredom when I’m by myself (doctor’s waiting rooms, for example).
You know what? Balls. Lots of them. In the air.
I work 40-50 hours a week outside the home. I have a small freelance business. I am about to start the fall semester of college to finish the last 2 courses to earn my degree. I am a wife. I have a six-year-old. Guess what all that means: I can multitask. Yes, that’s right. I am not ignoring my child when I am using my phone. I am fully capable of doing two things at the same time.
I’m not complaining. I chose this life. I love my life. But don’t for a second think you can take a snapshot of that life and assume that I prefer my phone’s little screen over the real world of my child.
You know what else?
I had an induction and a c-section. I formula-fed and started my daughter on rice cereal at 5 months. I had a drop-side crib and did not rush out immediately in a blind panic to replace it when it was recalled 6 months before we were planning to move her to a toddler bed.
I do not leap out of my chair and come running every time my daughter bursts into tears. I can recognize “real pain” vs “annoyed pain” vs “sadness”. I don’t allow bedtime snacks 3 minutes before bed because all of a sudden she’s starving, despite being full enough ten minutes earlier. She won’t starve to death before morning.
I am secretly relieved that my daughter’s gymnastics class is in a room with no windows. While sometimes it would be fun to watch, it is nice to have a 30 minute period where I’m alone in a chair in the hallway and catching up on business things or researching new trends in my industry.
I am not a super-mom. I do not do everything “by the book”. What I do is the BEST THAT I CAN, which is what probably 90% of these mothers you are judging are also trying to do.
There is a big difference between flat-out ignoring my child when she wants me to watch her do a cartwheel and being forced by some sort of societal mommy-guilt to stare at every trip she takes down the slide.
Okay…so here is my judgmental moment:
Almost every single comment I see that is “disgusted” and “heartbroken” about these terrible breaches in parenting seem to say a variation of the following:
— playing on your phone instead of parenting
— absorbed in mindless social networking
— looking at cat photos
— scrolling through Facebook
— messing around on your phone
Not a single “that work email can wait” or “tell your boss you’re at the park!” response. Nothing in the vein of “ugh, I can’t believe that mother is actually trying to balance out a very busy life instead of pushing her kid on a swing.” No, it’s all about assuming that Mom is neglecting Junior for FUN.
Once again, I am not playing on my phone. I do not use it for “media stimulation”. Do you know what is on my phone? My web design applications, my project notes, my business email account, my job. I use it so that I can a) continue to pay my bills, and b) be mobile so I can be as involved with my family as possible without having to stay stuck to a desktop PC all the live long day.
My daughter knows that she is more important to me than work. When I drop everything at the office and rush her to the ER because she fell off the playground equipment at school, that is when she knows that she is more important to me than work. When I take her first and last days of school off each year, when I come to all of her gymnastics classes and performances, when I attend all school programs and yearly graduations…those are the times that she sees that she is more important than work.
When I ask her to wait for a couple of minutes to show me that cartwheel while I finish up what I’m doing, she understands that life doesn’t always come to a screeching halt for things that can wait a moment. When she made me a Mother’s Day book a week ago, her answers to the “about Mom” questions were all about how I read to her and spend time with her and love her. How many times did she mention that I spend a lot of time working on my phone or laptop? That’s right. Zero.
Bottom line: I don’t have to explain myself or my method of parenting to anyone. If you want to waste your time and energy judging and gossiping about me, well, then, enjoy yourself. Just make sure you’re not neglecting your own children while you’re worrying about mine.
And this applies to ALL moms. The only way that the mom-judging will stop is for moms to actually just quit caring so much about what random strangers think of them!