Mommy Blogger April B. – Parenting Isn’t ‘One Size Fits All’
In the last couple of weeks, a particular viral Facebook post has been bugging me. If you're on Facebook, I'm sure it's crossed your newsfeed. You might've even shared it. It's the one that's an open letter to the mom sitting at the park playing on her iPhone while her kids do all sorts of cute things. It's sweet and sappy and really gives the mom a good finger wagging for missing out on her daughter picking dandelions.
But, in case you missed it....
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.
When I saw this one appear no less than 20 times on my newsfeed last week I rolled my eyes so many times I'm surprised they didn't get stuck that way.
Because, here's the thing... When I take my kids to the park, I might bring my Kindle and read. Or I might check emails and return calls or check out an interesting article I've been meaning read. And who is anyone else to judge me for that?
It doesn't mean I'm not paying attention. I doesn't mean I'm mindlessly neglecting their lives. I'm fully aware their childhood is whizzing right by me.
My kids are cute all of the time. But there are only so many times I can squeal with delight as I watch them go down the slide. Every moment is not a Kodak moment. I might read. But I do look up frequently--mainly to make sure no one is eating dirt or hanging upside down from something or trying to tie one sibling to a pole. If some says, "Mom, watch this," I watch. But in between all that, I reserve the right to enjoy some peace, soak up some sun, and read a few chapters in the book I've been reading for the last three months because moments for myself are very very few and very far between. It's rare I get to go to the bathroom at home without someone knocking (or beating) on the door, or, heck, just disregarding any kind of manners and walking right in to inform me that one stole the other's kid's meal toy.
So, yeah... if you see me at the park, sitting on a bench with my head in my Kindle or my iPhone, I won't feel guilty for that tiny stolen moment. And you don't get to judge me. For all you know, I'm buying movie tickets on Fandango so I can take the kids to a show (which I've done before.) But even if I'm not... even if I might be peering into Facebook, reading emails, or checking out celebrity gossip on TMZ, you don't get to judge me for that.
And you shouldn't judge anyone else for it.
The thing is, I don't really care what anyone else does as a parent. I don't really care how you parent your kids or run your household. I don't really care what you do while your kids are chasing each other at the playground.
And that's because I'm too busy keeping up with my own life to worry about anyone else's. I do what works for my family. I make the best choices I can in each moment. That's all I worry about. That's all any of us should worry about.
And if I take a moment for myself, let me have it. I think I've earned it.