Watching parents on Halloween, taking pictures of their kids reminded me about this post I’ve had saved in drafts for a few weeks. I’m sure you’ve seen them floating across the internet and if not, just Google something like ‘moms ignoring their children because of phone‘ and I’m sure you’ll get several search results. I wouldn’t be surprised if a post appears saying ‘Dear Mom, You missed your child’s Halloween because you were too busy photographing it with your phone.’ I took pictures off and on all night and still managed to thoroughly enjoy Halloween with my kids, and now I have some of my favorite moments in still shots to look back on! I also posted them to Facebook, Twitter, and instagram throughout the night….and in the eyes of some that is so wrong because I wasn’t present enough for every single second of the night because I was using my phone.
Every article I’ve read like this has been condescending and has even gone as far to say that mothers are neglecting their children because of their cell phones. If someone is truly neglecting their child, they were doing so long before these amazing cell phones came on the scene. These bloggers go on and on about how they are missing their children’s footsteps, faces they may make, pumping their legs on the swing, twirling around, crashing cars, and anything else you can think of. Tell me judgmental mother, what part of your children’s childhood did you miss while you were all up in this strangers business?
These articles are being written on the same devices they shame women for using. They go home and open up their WordPress/blogger app on the phone, sit in Starbucks on the laptop at night and write shameful posts to mothers…not only that, but hundreds of mothers read these articles and then comment on how they are so glad this article was written, and how they saw a mother at the park on her phone while her child was playing. Again, wondering what part of their children’s childhood they missed while reading and commenting on that post.
I’ll be honest with you, do I spend too much time on my phone? Sometimes, but the same could be said for reading a book, knitting, watching tv, chatting it up with my girlfriends, or researching various topics. I love my smart phone. LOVE. IT. My life is kept in my phone. I have my Google Calender synced, I email myself the grocery list, I make notes. We can watch Netflix on this phone. When I’m out and a friend tells me about a new shop or blog, it goes into my phone. I tweet about my-beautifully-chaotic-and-sometimes-but-rarely-boring-life, or articles I find interesting. I use my phone for taking pictures….haven’t had a real camera in years(I am doing research on a few). I love sharing photos on instagram of my well deserved glass of wine, Samuel playing with his trucks, Ava participating in a hoop contest, or Kiah holding a chicken. You’ll also find the occasional selfie and something I’m knitting, or whatever else I feel like sharing. I love being able to hop on my phone and instantly connect with friends who I haven’t physically seen in years. I can see what their family is up to, how their kids are doing, or text them. I can check in with friends who live 30mins from me, but because we all have busy lives, it can be hard to meetup with them.
Where are all the post on moms using their actual cameras when they’re out and about with their children, or the mom on the park bench reading a book or knitting? Or are those types of activities acceptable because they aren’t on a screen? I don’t have enough time to get into how Dad is always missing from these articles. Maybe because he’s seen as just the babysitter? Possibly because men don’t give a crap about this stuff the way women do? Why is everything always on or about the mother?
I’m that mom you’ll see out with her children…. all three of them – by myself the majority of the time. I’m that mom who is on day 28 of nothing more than 4hrs of sleep a night because every 2hrs I’m giving Samuel breathing treatments because he has asthma, and I’m doing my best to keep him out of the hospital(sometimes he still ends up there). Kiah was probably up until 2am and then Samuel decided to wake up at 6am totally read for the day. I’m that mom who is shuffling her children from their friend’s house, or a museum, to cheer leading, or girl scouts, to the dollar store to pick up craft supplies, back home to cook dinner, wash clothes, plan our day for tomorrow or next week, breaking up fights, answering questions, asking questions, counting to 10 and trying to breathe before exploding, sometimes not even making it past three. I’m that mom who sometimes feels like I’m not going to last one more minute. At some point during the day my phone will come out.
Here’s the thing, Unless you have xray vision you don’t know what that mom is doing on her phone. Maybe she’s on Pinterest looking for a new casserole dish for the family. Maybe she’s sharing photos of the kids with her husband who’s deployed. Maybe she’s doing some research on her child’s recent Autism diagnosis. Maybe her friend sent her a text saying she was running 10mins late. Maybe she’s looking up the name of this cool caterpillar they saw in the park The truth is that it’s really none of your business what she’s doing on her phone! You don’t know her life. Maybe she’s wondering why you keep staring at her instead of playing with your own kid. I think it’s safe to say that the majority of us are doing the best we can. Motherhood can be hard enough without having women we don’t even know judging and shaming us.
There are mothers like me, and many mothers doing more than me, so yes, we will pull out our phones while mothering to capture a moment and share it on instagram, to text a friend, post to facebook, or tweet about our life. I don’t see mothers missing their children’s childhood, I see mothers capturing the essence of motherhood and childhood.