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Have you felt judged about the way you live your life? I just had to respond to this guy’s comments.

walking to schoolLast 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.

You aren’t.

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.

Sincerely,
An iPhone “playing” mom/blogger/business owner who is sick of being judged.

Have you ever felt unfairly judged as a mom (or dad) about your choices?

About Maureen Fitzgerald

Maureen Fitzgerald is a Milwaukee, Wisconsin freelance writer, social media marketer, community manager, and brand enthusiast. She helps brands reach more potential customers through targeted consultation sessions, press coverage, product reviews and campaigns both at WisconsinMommy.com and by leveraging her blogger network, the Wisconsin Mom Squad.

Comments

  1. I love! Love! Love! this post!!!! Let me first say that I have been almost every kind of mom. I have been a stay at home mom, a single mom, a work outside the home mom, a work at home mom and I can 100% say that I am tired of people judging any of them. Moms on the whole LOVE their kids and will do whatever they can to the best of their abilities to make life the best it can be for them, and most of the time we walk around tired and discouraged and feel like we are failing and then we see a post like the one you responded too and we feel even more like failures. Besides who cares if this mom he saw was taking a moment to “play” on her phone who knows what the rest of her day was like maybe this is the one opportunity she has to reach out and connect with her friends, you know those actual people in life that encourage and up lift us. Gold star to you for standing up for all of us who are tired of being judged!

  2. Oh yeah, this hits a nerve! And yes, on multiple occasions, been unfairly judged. When I worked full time while my oldest was a baby, I was asked the classic “don’t you miss being with him, he’s going to walk soon and you’ll miss it and how do you cope with leaving him every day at daycare”.

    When I quit when he was 3.5 to spend more time with him, it was “how can you do without the money, you’re throwing away your career and what about retirement”. Couldn’t seem to win whether I was at work, or at home!

    The worst was when my oldest was battling leukemia. I was pregnant at the time.Somebody actually said to me that they assumed I got pregnant because I needed a bone marrow donor for my older child and did I know if the new baby was a match yet? Really! And the comments about “babying him” and “coddling him” when I would piggy-back him around because he was too tired. Yes people. there really are times you should keep your thoughts to yourselves. Don’t judge someone else – you haven’t been in their shoes.

    Thanks for such an insightful post!

  3. I know I’ve been judged, and I’ll have to admit, I’ve been guilty of it myself. And the saying about walking a mile in someone else’s shoes is so true. We need to worry about our own lives and leave our noses out of others. Great post!

  4. I saw the original post floating around but I had no idea it was a guy…now I’m even more annoyed by it. I try to just do my thang and if people want to judge, so be it!

  5. Love this post! I saw the initial post and it really upset me because I thought it was so unfair of the person to judge like that!

  6. Hang on there ladies,

    First, lets get some things straight. This was written by a woman named Tanya, not a man named Marshall. Here is the true origin of this post, to the best of my knowledge: http://4littlefergusons.wordpress.com/2012/11/14/dear-mom-on-the-iphone/

    Second, please take a look at her response to her post going viral: http://4littlefergusons.wordpress.com/2013/02/04/re-dear-mom-on-the-iphone/

    I thought I’d chime in with a comment in favor of the letter. I think the author wrote it as a reminder to herself as well as others. It was hypothetical. I think she struck a chord in a lot of women. It was a good reminder to me that I take advantage of the time I do have with my little guy because this time will vanish so quickly. (I have already experienced it with my niece and nephews, now in their adult years. One day they did just stop asking me to hang out with them.) I am confident enough to find that balance, like you Maureen. I am not a slave to my child, nor am I a slave to my iPhone.

    I have had caregivers that have not interacted with my son while he played, instead were texting or making phone calls. I found these things out by dropping in unexpectedly (not on purpose) and heard the barrage of texts coming in, watched them text back, heard them on the phone, etc. In these cases, I made it clear they were not to be on their phones while my son was in their care unless it was important. If I hold them to this standard, which I wont apologize for, then I have to hold myself to some degree of those standards as well. I publish a personal blog (a hobby if you will) and realized that I needed to set aside time for this that did not interfere with the time I had with my child. THIS IS A PERSONAL CHOICE for me, so please if anyone reading this does otherwise, that’s your choice! I’m also a single mother, and I work from home. When I am doing work, my son understands that I’m working. If I can, I have a sitter at home while I am working, just as I did when I worked in an office. It’s important for me to set boundaries and to communicate those to my son. The flip side: time together is clearly defined as such. ”Never shall the twain meet.” ?? That is not so easy, and I do not proclaim to do so. I try, but I do have a business to run.

    BTW, it’s equally important to note that my son too needs to be reminded to live life in real time, not on my iPhone playing games, watching movies, etc.

    Thanks for your post and the platform to voice my thoughts.

    Andrea

  7. Love your response and glad you posted it here so more moms can read it.

  8. Nancy Kavazanjian says:

    Hmm, interesting piece. Wouldn’t it be great if we all kept an open mind about people and situations before assuming things?!

    • Nancy –
      Based on this comment, it’s clear that my decision to turn down your press trip has hit a nerve with you. I have to wonder why? I did not choose to attend the trip and then bash the farmers and techniques in front of the bloggers who chose to attend. I did not call you out publicly on my blog. I simply explained that I have one set of beliefs and values that do not fit with the ones Common Ground holds. I’m not making any “assumptions” here. My decision is based on quite a bit of research and personal experience. I’m sorry that you have decided to take it so personally.
      Maureen

  9. Nancy Kavazanjian says:

    You are right, I did take this too personally. Thanks for your time and consideration.

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