Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Dear Judgey McJudgerson

A while back, there was a super judgey "Dear Mom on the iPhone" meme that was going around. You know the one. If you're a mom, you probably felt guilty when you read it. Because, you know, how dare you not spend every single second of motherhood completely and joyfully consumed in your childrens' every move.

When it first made the rounds, there were a lot of awesome responses to it. (This one is my favorite.) I wanted to write one myself, but deferred to those who said what I would have wanted to, but wouldn't have said as well.

Well, it's popping up again, and it's bothering me even more now that I have not one, but two children that I'm supposed to feel guilty about glancing away from to pretend I have a social life for a sec. So here goes:

Am I excused for browsing recipes while nursing
my son if I totally baked them with my daughter later?

Dear Lady Judging Me At The Playground,

You seem to be reading a lot into the very tiny slice of my life that you see. You see me vacantly tapping on my phone, and are apparently filled with sadness for my children, whose lives you assume are slipping away without me noticing. (I wonder what your own kids are doing that you're missing while you sit in judgment of me?) You see my daughter twirling in the sunlight. You see my son smiling and cooing. You see me not noticing.

Would it be okay if I filled you in on some things you didn't see?

You didn't see this morning, when I greeted my waking daughter with a smile and a kiss. You didn't see when I painstakingly helped her pour her cereal and milk, then help her wipe up the spills. You didn't see me cut up her fruit. You didn't see me dance like a ballerina while doing so. You didn't see me smiling and baby talking to my son while I changed the nastiest diaper you could imagine. You didn't see me grit my teeth when he bit my breast, testing out the new teeth on the way, then sing a silly song about how we don't bite Mama.

You didn't see me do all that before I'd had even a drop of coffee.

You didn't see me patiently go through 5 outfits with my daughter before she settled on one she was satisfied with. You didn't see me carefully wrap my baby on my back to take my daughter outside to pick cherry tomatoes from our garden and giggle when they burst in our mouths. You didn't see me following her lead in a "princess dance" that involved some very specific maneuvers with a stick. (My neighbor did, though.)

You didn't see us go for a walk, stopping to pick up leaves, or watch squirrels, or name the colors of the flowers.

You didn't see the three of us, back inside our house, building towers with blocks, building tracks for trains, or rolling around on the floor laughing and tickling each other. You didn't see me skip my shower, again, in favor of a few more minutes of play time. You didn't see me sitting on the kitchen floor plucking grapes and slices of cheese out of my daughter's backpack after she accidentally dumped her lunch box in there, staying calm and reminding her that it's okay, accidents happen.

You didn't see all of that happen in the precious few hours I have in the morning before I have to get her to school, and him to the sitter, and myself to work.

You didn't see me drop my daughter off, leaving her crying in her teacher's arms, and bursting into tears myself when I turned the corner because I never want her to feel scared or alone. You didn't see me pepper my son with kisses when I left him at the sitter's house, or pump breast milk for him at my desk while frantically writing case notes between clients.

You didn't see any of that, did you? No.

You saw me updating my facebook status while my kids got some fresh air. Maybe I was uploading a photo I just took of them, to share with my family and friends. Maybe I was texting their father about what he should pick up from the grocery store. Maybe I just made a totally sweet play in Words With Friends that reminded me for a second that I'm clever sometimes. Or maybe I was just mindlessly scrolling through this app or that one, because maybe if I had to do one more princess dance or tolerate one more bitten nipple, I was going to lose my mind.

But hey, thanks for judging me. Thanks for making me feel guilty. Thanks for reminding me that I am not a perfect mother. (Are you?) Thanks for perpetuating the mommy wars. Thanks for not taking the opportunity to relate to the frustrations and monotony of motherhood. Thanks for missing the chance to lift another mother up. Thanks for not giving me the benefit of the doubt, and thanks for assuming that my children do not know how deeply and fiercely they are loved, because I dared take a moment to myself during their waking hours.

Maybe next time you see me at the playground, you'll say hello. Maybe you'll smile warmly. Maybe you'll ask if I live nearby, or where my daughter goes to school. Maybe you'll find out we have more in common than you realize. Maybe you'll discover that we're both just doing the best we can, and that the best we can is good enough.

Your Friend,

Mom on the Phone at the Playground


  1. This is fantastic. I hate the guilt that creeps in when I am in public and I happen to glance down at my phone, because I took my eyes off my very occupied at the moment children.

    1. Let that guilt go, Mama, and take care of you! We Mamas need our breaks and our play time too. <3

  2. So perfectly done. I have contemplated a response to that one numerous times, but yours settles the matter quite well. Also, it's Smartphones and playgrounds that allow me to get a tiny amount of work done during the day and keep my work-at-home-mom boat afloat. So actually, in a sense, those brief periods on my phone allow me to tune into my kids later.

    1. Yes! One of the responses I read when this first went around last winter was about that, exactly. Written by a WAHM who went to the playground with her lap top to support her ability to work. I wish I could remember who had written that one; it was excellent.

  3. Love this! Thanks for writing!

  4. Great response to Judgey, and much needed.

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