Last week, a post came across my Facebook feed that touched a nerve. I wrote a response, posted it, and got a number of emails asking me to post it on my blog so that people could share it (it was on my personal FB page, so it limited sharing).
Here is the original post that appeared in my stream. (It was attributed to someone named Marshall Miller.)
Dear Mom On the iPhone,
I see you over there on the bench, messing on your iPhone. It feels good to relax a little while your kids have fun in the sunshine, doesn’t it? You are doing a great job with your kids, you work hard, you teach them manners, have them do their chores.
But Momma, let me tell you what you don’t see right now…..
Your little girl is spinning round and round, making her dress twirl. She is such a little beauty queen already, the sun shining behind her long hair. She keeps glancing your way to see if you are watching her.
Your little boy keeps shouting, “Mom, MOM watch this!” I see you acknowledge him, barely glancing his way.
He sees that too. His shoulders slump, but only for a moment, as he finds the next cool thing to do.
Now you are pushing your baby in the swing. She loves it! Cooing and smiling with every push. You don’t see her though, do you? Your head is bent, your eyes on your phone as you absently push her swing.
Talk to her. Tell her about the clouds, Mommy. The Creator who made them. Tickle her tummy when she comes near you and enjoy that baby belly laugh that leaves far too quickly.
Put your eyes back on your prize…Your kids.
Show them that they are the priority. Wherever you are, be ALL there. I am not saying it’s not ok to check in on your phone, but it’s a time-sucker: User Beware!
Play time at the park will be over before you know it.
The childhood of your children will be gone before you know it.
They won’t always want to come to the park with you, Mommy. They won’t always spin and twirl to make their new dress swish, they won’t always call out, “WATCH ME!”
There will come a point when they stop trying, stop calling your name, stop bothering to interrupt your phone time.
Because they know…
You’ve shown them, all these moments, that the phone is more important than they are. They see you looking at it at while waiting to pick up brother from school, during playtime, at the dinner table, at bedtime…..
I know that’s not true, Mommy.
I know your heart says differently.
But your kids can’t hear your words, Mommy. Your actions are screaming way too loudly.
May our eyes rest upon those we love, first and foremost, and may everything else fall away in the wonderful, noisy, sticky-fingered glory of it all.
Let me say before I post my response that this post came during a week where I had heard several people make comments about how mothers were conducting their lives. Statements about how working moms were “outsourcing” their motherly responsibilities or about how stay at home moms were making a “grievous mistake by not contributing to Social Security and retirement accounts and thereby putting their family at risk of poverty later in life”. (That last one was actually said to my face.) So while I usually let other people’s judgmental comments roll of my back and probably wouldn’t have even responded on another day, I did whip off a response to this one. I guess the whole iPhone thing just really pushed my buttons because I see the looks I sometimes get when I am out with my family and check my email or update my social media. I’m not killing time playing CheekyBingo or CandyCrush, I’m working at building a better life for my family. And they know that. Nor do I miss important moments like school concerts or important firsts – I keep my priorities in mind. Anyway – here is my response.
Dear Judgey McJudgerson,
Before you assume that the mom in the park is “messing” on her iPhone, let me paint you another picture. I quit my job to stay home with my child. I wanted to be there for him rather than put him in daycare – that was MY choice and I don’t judge anyone who chooses differently.
Because our family finances dictate that we need more than just my husband’s income, I started my own business. It is hard work, but rewarding. It allowed me to be home during those “park playing” years. Yes, sometimes it required me to check my email at the park. Sometimes I pull out my phone at a restaurant and post a quick photo, FourSquare check in or Facebook update. Because that is part of MY JOB. Because, more likely than not, that meal is comped thanks to my “playing on my iPhone”. Yes, I pulled out my phone many times during my last family vacation because playing on my iPhone was what actually provided my family with that vacation.
This has also allowed me to have conversations with my child about entrepreneurship, work/life balance, and creating your own opportunities. My child knows that he always takes priority in my life and that part of why I work so hard is to provide opportunities for him.
So before you feel all superior and lecture me about not paying attention to my child, I want you to think about the fact that all of that playing has allowed me to be there far more than I could have if I had gone back to my previous job. And frankly, it’s not really any of your business anyways.
An iPhone “playing” mom/blogger/business owner who is sick of being judged.