Yes, I’m on my iPhone

Over the past couple of days I’ve seen countless people I know sharing the post aptly titled, “Dear Mom on your iPhone.” It starts off innocently enough, but within a paragraph it’s carefully explaining to mom all the magical moments she’s missing out on while engaged with her phone.

And I get it. LORD do I get it. I see families in restaurants where the whole bunch is engaged with an electronic device. I see teenagers who can’t make eye contact or hold a conversation because they’d rather text a person sitting right next to them. I completely understand that that we are a society obsessed with our phones.

But I don’t agree with that blog post.

I disagree with it for a whole host of reasons. Probably the most obvious is that it uses shame and guilt to make a point. In my opinion, there is nothing more insidious than mom guilt. It starts when you’re pregnant and permeates every facet of caring for our children. Don’t eat this. Don’t drink that. When Charlie was born so sick, so broken, I blamed myself. If only I had done something different.  What, exactly, I wasn’t sure, but I knew that somehow I had failed.

Eventually, however, I had to accept that people who make a lot of “bad” decisions have healthy children. And people like me can give up every substance on the planet, make it to every appointment, take every vitamin, and still have children who aren’t healthy. We are a guiding force in our children’s lives, but we aren’t the only one.

This doesn’t stop people from trying shame mothers, though, and worse yet, we spend far too much time shaming each other. Not one father shared that post on Facebook. I didn’t see any of them sharing the companion post, “Dear Dad on the Recliner” either. Every decision mothers make is held up to the impossible standard of motherhood: the food you serve them, your music choices in the car, television watching, whether you work, vaccinations, breast feeding, and on and on. I notice no one is sharing posts on Facebook about Dads who go hunting for the weekend. Or about how Mom is missing precious moments while cooking dinner or scrubbing toilets. Why is it OK to engage in those activities, but it’s not OK to laugh at an E card on Facebook? Or send a text to your best friend? Must we sacrifice all joy and sense of self because we have chosen to be mothers?

I’m calling BS on all of it. It is our job to keep our children safe, to keep them fed, and warm, to care for them when they are sick, but it is NOT our job to subjugate every part of our being for our children, and frankly, I’m tired of people saying that it is. No child is served by having a slave for a parent. Children need parents–not another playmate. If you lean in the biblical direction, read it: a mother’s job is to mold and discipline her children–not to give up everything in their lives for them.  As a kid, I explored and played with my friends in the neighborhood. My mom watched her favorite soap opera every day. I never received the subliminal message that I wasn’t good enough or wasn’t as important as Hope and Luke. That’s just ridiculous.

My opinion, I realize isn’t worth a whole lot, so I’ll add a few other little facts to this rant of mine. Last August a study was published that showed that “intensive parenting” actually makes mothers more depressed. This year another study emerged showing that helicopter parenting may breed depression and incompetence in children.

Let your daughter spin. Let your son swing. And let yourself look at pictures on Istagram. We all need a break sometimes–to enjoy the fresh breeze, to feel the sun on our faces and to take a few moments to be ourselves. Our kids will be just fine if we let ourselves enjoy the moment too.

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Comments

  1. Bravo! Love this post!

  2. Melissa K. says:

    Hurrah! I’m glad I’m not the only one who didn’t have that “Mom on the iPhone” post sit right with them.

    You make some great points, and one I really relate to myself is that I did something wrong to make my daughter sick, but that’s self-inflicted mommy guilt and I’m slowly learning to deal with it.

    There are (many) days that my introverted self hides away for a few minutes to escape the cacophony that is toddlerhood, and that’s ok. I need those minutes to get back to center, so I’m a better, healthier (mentally) me, and as a result that makes me a less likely to snap and yell mama.

    • I totally agree. I think that taking care of mom has to be part of the equation–how else can we mother to the best of our abilities.

  3. LOVE IT!!!! so awesome!! You are so right.

  4. This post apparently rubbed a lot of women the wrong way. This is my favorite response to it:

    http://friedokra4me.blogspot.ca/2013/03/dear-mom-on-iphone-i-get-it.html

  5. Love this post. Thank you.

  6. Good for you!
    Why must we (as species or as a gender) find it necessary to make ourselves feel better by putting someone else down. Ridiculous behavior…

    • I don’t understand it either. I mean, I engaged in it when I was five, but I’m not five any more and I have to be content with my own choices and actions.

  7. Amen, sister!
    I didn’t respond to the mom on the phone blog because I try to stay positive online if I can. But it really bothered me, too. I thought that few minutes our mom was on the phone may have been the only peace she had that day. We are way too judgmental of our fellow women.

    • I try to and ignored the post as best I could, but then someone shared it and said, “I’m sharing this as a reminder to myself” and I couldn’t help but think that I had to say SOMETHING about how we don’t need to beat ourselves up over checking our phone.

  8. Yes!

  9. Mommies, please, just stay off your phone, I or otherwise, at ANY time the motor in your car is running. That means any time. A mistake there can be deadly for all of us. Other than that, everything in moderation, except for Charlie! Can’t get enough of him!

    • Evelyn–I hear ya, but how will I ever survive the drive thru line if I don’t look at the phone? Am i just supposed to stare out the window ;)

  10. Another amen! :)

  11. I agree with you. People need to mind their own business. I get so tired of all this holier than thou stuff.

    Hugs..

  12. I haven’t seen that post! But I totally agree with you!
    My daughter tells me all I do is read or on my computer! ok yes when I’m done doing everything else around the house why yes I am!

    • I love that, April, and it’s so true! I might be on my phone after I’ve changed four diapers, cooked dinner, folded laundry, and on and on. . .

  13. Right now, I’m reading you on my iPhone inthe hospital while my new girl nurses. It’s helping me not grind my teeth or scream aloud that she’s killing me. Milk finally came in,but it’s gonna be a couple of days….

    • Is it weird that I feel completely honored? Because that’s exactly how I feel. Good luck!!! My phone/laptop kept me company through what I estimate to be one zillion pumping sessions :)

  14. I think you’re so right about the use of Shame, and I’ve been obsessed with Brene’ Brown’s work on the topic. Her TED talk on shame is great, says it is her life’s goal to create a national conversation about shame. http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_listening_to_shame.html

  15. Here, here! Thank you for writing this Katy! I couldn’t agree more!

  16. What a wonderful post, Bravo mama!

  17. JENNIFER says:

    Love, as always, Katy!! The mom judgement drives me insane…

    • Me too! I work very hard not to let myself go there–I know there’s an instinct, but really, unless a child is in danger, we need to mind our own business!

  18. Well said, Katy! It’s all about balance. Kids need their free time but they also need attention at times. Moms tend to know which is which for their kids. And I couldn’t agree with you more on the shaming thing. That’s just awful. :(

    • Thanks, Addie. I think you make an excellent point. Balance is tough, but judging the way other people do it is definitely not helpful!

  19. I agree that the tone of the article is sanctimonious and self-righteous. And as a mother of two, one with autism, I sure do understand the need to zone out, often in front of the computer (can’t afford all that i-business!), looking at ridiculous gossip websites or, just as often, researching therapy modalities. At the same time, I think we should take tomes like this not as an opportunity *only* to get our defenses on, but also as a reminder that we *should* always be reflecting about the job we are doing – not just as parents, but as humans. I *do* think there is peril in this culture where escapism is literally a fingertip away. Where we get sucked in to twitter wars, constant facebook liking and updating, obsessive email checking, and compulsive web-surfing. Anything but to be *present* – here and now. I don’t think it should have anything to do with judging women, or mothers, but examining who we are as a culture, and who we want to be.

    • Without a doubt, Dina. I think the author had some valid points–and I did try to say that at the beginning of this post–there is a time and place for a cell phone and it’s important to monitor our usage and make sure we haven’t fallen into the pit of obsessively checking our 5,000 social accounts every twenty minutes. As someone who spends a LOT of time on social media, I think about this a lot. I would have loved it if the author of the original piece had written about her own battles with this or had even penned the letter to herself. It was her tone of looking outward, at other mothers, that bothered me. I often feel that we are far too invested in coming up with reasons to dislike ourselves and others rather than focusing on the positives in life.

  20. As the mother of a non-verbal child with CP, as well as two other children, Facebook and the Internet is often my only link to the outside world! Some of my best friends (other special needs moms) are always there to share prayers, support, information, conversation, and some much needed comic relief. I cannot imagine how isolated I would be if there was no Internet. It has had a positive impact on my emotional state. My kids are still clothed, fed, kept from harm, and have ample social interaction with me (more than ample!). I, too, agree that it is not the parents’ job to entertain the child. It is our job to teach the child life skills and how to entertain themselves. If we don’t, we will end up with a bunch of entitled kids…oh wait, that has already happened in society. I believe, like with everything else, moderation is the key. :)

    • I totally agree, Paula. It’s rare for me to find another mother who is going through the exact same things that I am in person, but on the Internet I can find lots of them! I would be spending a LOT of money on therapy if I didn’t have a way to chat with other special needs mothers near and far through the magic of the Internet!