I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
February 6, 2013
Hi there, Mom,
Yes, I saw you pointedly staring at me with pursed lips from across the playground as I scrolled through the e-mails on my iPhone while my kid played. And I know exactly what message you were trying to send my way. You were definitely a contender for the playground’s Good Mom award that day, helping your child go down the slide, laughing and clapping as she twirled in her dress, and serving up homemade bran muffins and sugar-free organic apple juice on a nearby picnic table for her snack. Good for you, Mom. I have absolutely no problem with that.
I kept a close eye on my kid that day, too, but he had made a few friends over at the swings and I wasn’t about to interfere with their Star Wars game. So I pulled out my iPhone and answered a few work e-mails. That’s how I got your attention, isn’t it? Trust me, I felt the heat from your laser beam gaze the whole time I was typing. You probably even went home and wrote a blog post about it.
Well, I decided to answer your letter because I was in your shoes once, Mama. I thought I knew not only what was best for me as a parent, but also what was best for everyone else out there– and I wasn’t afraid to let them know it, on my blog and in person.
But let me tell you, Mom, time has a way of changing your perspective. Between my stepdaughters, who lived with us until college, and my own two kids, I’ve been parenting now for ten years. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that there is no foolproof formula for making kids turn out right. Every mom out there has her own set of strengths and weaknesses, her own style of parenting, her own way of relating to her kids and teaching them what they need to know. Every mom has her good days and her bad ones. Every mom desperately wants what’s best for her kids. Her way is not necessarily your way– and that’s okay.
Or at least, it should be.
It took me a long time to get past the pressures of appearing to be perfect. I tried hard to be like all the other moms at the playground, with their immaculate designer outfits and their unstained, monogrammed diaper bag and their organic puffs and their squeaky-clean minivans. But over the years, I realized that a mother could get so caught up in worrying about what everyone else thought of her that she wasn’t necessarily worrying enough about what her own kids thought of her. I certainly didn’t like the feeling of being judged by others for some of the small decisions I made each day as a mom. Who was I to judge other moms for their choices?
So let’s get back to that iPhone, shall we? When I used my iPhone on the playground that day, you decided that I was ignoring my child and not appreciating the golden, fleeting years of his youth.
What you didn’t know was that my iPhone is a key reason that I’m able to work from home and spend almost every day with my kids. I am extraordinarily grateful to be able to set my own schedule, spend hours and hours of quality time with my kids, and still have a career and bring in income for my family. And if that means that I have to answer e-mails here and there throughout the day in order to make it possible, I’m happy to do it.
Why can’t you be happy for me?
Let me give you another scenario. I know plenty of stay-at-home moms whose iPhones have allowed them to keep in touch with friends and family members, making them feel connected to other adults throughout the day even though they’re spending mind-numbing amounts of time with their little ones. Sure, motherhood is filled with poignant moments that pass all too soon. But let’s be honest- It can also be incredibly boring. If a mom wants to spend a few minutes texting about shoes with her best friend while her kid plays on the playground, that’s fine with me.
Why can’t it be fine with you?
Other times, I’ve used my iPhone to make a grocery list, get directions to a birthday party, reserve books at the library, and perform many other mundane little tasks that every mom throughout the day does on a regular basis. If I choose to do that on the playground, seriously, Mama.
What’s it to you?
Do you see all the ways I engage my child when I’m home with him for hours each day and nobody’s watching? Do you see the mornings I get up early and the nights I stay up late to do work so that I can focus on him while he’s awake? Do you see the thousands of photos I’ve taken of him and the hundreds of blog posts I’ve written about him, trying desperately to capture every fleeting wonderful moment of his childhood so that I never ever forget this time?
No. You see me on my iPhone for five minutes. And you make me, and hundreds of others like me, feel guilty about it.
Trust me, Mama. I have enough Mom Guilt as it is.
When I write about failures and shortcomings and bad parenting, I have learned over time to try and limit those discussions to my own mistakes– because really, that’s all I’m qualified to discuss. It took me a while to figure this out. Here’s hoping you get the message sooner than I did.
Been there, done that, over it,
Did you like this post? Be sure and follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep up with me online!
Image via Yutaka Tsutano/Flickr
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
LOVE your post. I am a mom to a 7 month old and a big reason I can stay home with her during the day is that I work from home as a marketing director…a big part of which ties me to my phone. How dare other moms judge someone like that? I hate it, it drives me crazy that moms point fingers and judge one another, striving to be high and mighty about how they decide to parent. It’s the whole breastfeeding vs. formula argument all over again!
Here’s to moms.
And iphones 😉
Oh the omniscient Sanctimommies. Gotta love them and their parenting degrees from the University of Google, which qualifies them as the Alpha and the Omega on all parenting choices, large and small. Next time, pull out a can of Red Bull and a bag of pork rinds for Bruiser to snack on, just to watch her head explode. 🙂
Ugh – it’s a PARK let them PLAY. Let them learn to play independently, let them learn to make friends. Every moment doesn’t need to be a teaching moment, or a mommy and me moment.
I take my “little brother” to the park in nice weather. He’s 11, I’m 53. We play but there are times I will let him run around, try and make friends and I snuggle onto a bench and check emails etc. And while I’m there I see plenty of moms sitting together talking while kids run around and PLAY.
I hate those friggin’ types of blog posts (but of course love love love your rebuttal!). Nothing good comes of them.
Bravo! I work from home, too, and my iPhone is my lifeline. I also use it to check out books from the library (for the KIDS), make grocery lists (food for the KIDS), and write and return work emails. But if I happen to be texting a friend to make arrangements to meet for tea later? WHO CARES???
I’m reading this post on my iPhone while the baby naps and the 4 year old plays by himself. I don’t work from but I do need a minute or two to myself.
Love your post.
Great post. I am a mom of three that works part-time as a lawyer. I may be part-time, but my clients don’t know that and often demand that I reply to emails even on the days I get to be with my boys. If it wasn’t for the wonders of technology, I wouldn’t be able to be part-time and have that extra time with my boys. Yes, you will see me on my iphone emailing and texting even when I am with my boys. It is a small price to pay for a flexible schedule that gives me more time with my children.
It takes a village. And my village includes my iphone.
Great point, Tara. I know so many moms who work full time and are able to take a day or two to work at home each week just for that reason.
Good for you. I probably wouldn’t have been able to stop myself from flipping her off.
Classy. You were the first sperm to make it to the egg? Wow, please don’t reproduce…ever.
Round of applause for this! I use my phone at the playground as well while, obviously, keeping a close eye out. I’m not always working either (gasp) It’s healthy for my son to learn to play with other kids and not just Mommy all the time.
Amen, Amen and Amen! I hate when I get judge-y looks from other people when I am out in public with my child. They have no idea what has happened over the last 23 hours and 55 minutes but gosh darn it they are going to make a harsh judgement based on what they have just witnessed for the last 5 minutes. Grrr! I just try to completely ignore them.
I love this! No one knows what works best for each family or each mom than… that mom! No one else! Great reminder that we each need to do what’s best for our kids and leave the judgement at the door (or on the park bench!)
You’re awesome! Thank you for making me feel less guilty!
BOO. You sound just as judge-y as what you claim to dislike. Pot, meet kettle.
that’s how i felt, too. i don’t want to say, boo, but i wonder what your (lindsay’s) purpose was in writing this and if it wasn’t just to defend yourself, demonstrating that you care a great deal what other moms think about you. if you know that using your iphone for work is beneficial to your overall relationship with your kids, then that’s awesome. but now i feel like you were attacking that other mother for thinking differently than you.
Lindsay is speaking up and presenting her side so that these “helicopter moms” know that the mom on her phone isn’t a bad parent. Lindsay isn’t only speaking for herself, but for the other moms out there that get these dirty looks and don’t have a blog to use as a platform to defend themselves against this judgement. I run a small daycare and on nice days, we’ll do field trips to the park where there’s more space to run and play. On these days, I typically get quite a few texts from parents asking about how things are going. First off, I generally get dirty looks by showing up alone at the park with up to 7 kids. People assume that they are all mine for some reason. Then I get dirty looks when I answer parent texts, take pictures, order lunch, or do anything else with my phone. The parents at the park don’t realize that I take pictures throughout the year and make home made calendars for the parents at Christmas. They don’t realize that I’m reassuring a worried parent that I put sunscreen on their kid and I have their epi pen because they are allergic to bees. They don’t know that Friday is pizza day and the kids have been looking forward to it all week, so I want to make sure it’s ready to be picked up as soon as we leave the park. I don’t expect them to know this….but what I do expect is the common decency to not give me dirty looks and judge me like they know me.
if you don’t like it don’t read it. look at the top right coner see the tiny x? click it.
so, its ok to write negative things about a mum at a park on her iphone, but when a mum who has used an iphone at the park tries to present her side ( and did it very well) you slam her? I don’t understand your stance. I often take my book to the park. My kids don’t want me hovering. they are old enough to run, play, climb, meet new friends. When they do want my attention I give it. when they dont’ I get a bit of my own relaxation time — just like them. nothing wrong with that.
YES! Great post. Thanks for saying it better than I could.
Fantastic post! We have entered into some strange time warp where everyone is soooo judgmental of everyone else and moms are the worst offenders. Good for you for letting your kid play independently with his friends. Good for you for making your professional life work around your family life. Shame on that wretched woman who is clearly so insecure about the job she is doing that she must find happiness in criticizing others! Very nicely said!
I run a home daycare and I sometimes get that look, what I think is funny about that is that often I’m using my phone to send pictures of the kids to their working parents and then sometimes there’s a back and forth, “Is Johnny having fun? Did he eat breakfast?”…the parents love that kind of ‘real time’ communication.
You just never know what people are up to and what those little phones are allowing us to accomplish.
Good point, Kathy.
A lot of time I’m takin pictures of kids and sending them to FB or my bf or the parents!!
I use my phone as my camera sucks compared to this baby!!!!
Amen. I * just * got a smartphone for my birthday and it is so fun! But I definitely feel self conscious in group settings, because of these unwritten “rules” /sigh. Thanks for this!
Feel self conscious no more! YOU know if you’re using your iPhone too much around your kids or not, and no one else has any idea.
Cut the lady some slack. Maybe *she* was having a bad day. You never know what is going on in someone’s life.
Oh no, she wrote it months ago and says now that she stands by what she wrote. It’s been viewed and shared on Facebook many, many times. I wouldn’t have written a rebuttal if I felt like she wasn’t expecting people to react. This is my honest reaction, as someone coming from the other side- and as someone, I’ll admit, who has been in her shoes as well.
Must be snarky Tuesday
Darn it. I’m a day off. We’ll call it White Hot Mad Wednesday.
I’m pretty sure if we met
IRL we’d be instant friensds.. So well said & so true. What is it w/ moms being the harshest critics of other moms? We’re ALL on Team Mom, it is NOT a competition, much to my dismay Mom of the Year awards aren’t given out or maybe they ate and I want invited…huh. 🙂 I run into this a lot as a mom who works full time outside the home, like when i adjust my schedule to pick the kids up from comments i endure from the “Ugg moms” (you know the ones) about how nice it is that I’ve taken WORK(said w/ obvious disdain) to “spend time w/ your kids” not knowing that every other day I’m home when they get off the bus. We’re all just doing the best we can however we can. Team MOM!
My apologies for the typos..darn smartphones, make us bad moms & can’t spell! 🙂
Wow…nailed it! I love this!
I saw the “other” post, and I appreciate your response. I work a lot. I’m able to have a little bit of a flexible job because I have the iphone and I can answer emails when I do leave early.. So shame on that lady for judging…
Wow! Someone must feel a little guilty. That was a harsh post.
You know, that’s exactly what I feel I need my phone for. I am hours and miles away from any friends or family…we’re talking plane rides. And, it makes me feel like an adult when I can text or call someone to talk for a bit. I’m in a tiny apt. with an 18-mo-old in MN (negative 30, anyone), so we don’t get out a lot. Love you, iPhone 😉
You make me glad I don’t have kids. I don’t think I could handle the petty mom competition and the snark. It really seems like moms are back in high school.
Thank you for this blog post! I found it hysterical (and maybe I missed the mark about people judging me at the park, because my kids even know that my iPhone is not a toy!)
I do amazing things and manage a lot of my life on the iPhone. It handy, it’s powerful and yes, it can even be addictive. But, I think, as you’ve said, that if we as moms spend less time judging each other and more times high-fiving each other, no matter how we parent, we’d all be a lot happier. I think that’s a secret that the guys have over us and it’s a disservice to all the moms who rock it every day to get it done in their own way.
[…] Dear Mom Judging Me For Using My iPhone […]
Great post and a great reminder to stop assuming and judging! I see both sides of the situations…I’ve been both moms…heck I AM both moms. I work hard to get off my judgement train b/c I have no idea what other families daily life is like. I (we, as moms) shouldn’t assume the worst b/c we see smartphone use at what is an inappropriate time in our opinion. I just wrote about blog post about reality vs virtuality before I found this post…I’m still sticking by what I wrote though 🙂
Especially love how the author of the post you are responding to asks for “Happy Comments” only — way to preempt the person who might actually disagree with her judgmental sanctimony. Women would get a lot further in the world if we spent less time and energy judging other women and supported each of us in our efforts to live our lives as best we can in the manner in which we choose.
I found it to be a great article with a timely reminder. I think we all see people who are on their cell phones way too much. Oblivious to their kids, the traffic they are driving in, all the things happening around them. This seems to be the point of the article, not the mom taking 2 minutes for herself after a busy day or a life’s calamity. This article isn’t judging a specific person or incident it is commenting on a problem in society as a whole, and as such it is a point well taken. Off to see what my kids are up too…..
i am glad you posted this! i have three living children and two children who passed away four years ago, and…well, let’s just say that the more children I have, the less judgemental i get.
my husband works a billion hours/week, and sometimes i need a break to text my best friend or just have a moment of downtime. if i happen to take my kids to a gorgeous park and let them play, that is better than putting them in front of the tv, right? (not judging that either – we don’t have a TV, but I have been known to let my kids watch Dora on the laptop from time to time…)
I am very intentional with my kids – I just don’t see the need to worry about what other parents are doing when your own “ship” is in order. I avoid parks that lack parental supervision and obviously i am watching my own kids and keeping an eye on them.
sometimes it seems like you just can’t win- either you are “checked out” or if you are attentive, then you’re a “helicopter parent” –
so i say screw the judgers, and just stand by your own values and beliefs.
i really love your blog btw – i am a former lawyer myself (big firm in los angeles) and left for the same reason you did! childhood is just too short…that’s why i know you meant well with this post. love your perspective.
Wow, that mom said a lot with one look!
Thank you! LOVE this!
“And you make me, and hundreds of others like me, feel guilty about it.”
No one can make you feel guilty without your permission. If you feel guilty, it’s because you feel guilty. Either acknowledge that you know what you’re doing is best for you and your family, or accept that you’re not perfect. Don’t blame someone else for your guilt.
And for all you know, she was squinting because the sun was in her eyes, or jealous because she has a dumbphone. Maybe if you walked over and struck up a conversation, instead of silently judging or not judging one another, you could become friends.
While I would probably agree most times, the other lady actually wrote a blog about her, so I’m pretty sure it wasn’t just the sun in her eyes since she came right out and said on the Internet how she felt about this lady being on her phone. Just sayin.
I think both sides can be right here. It bums me out when I am out to dinner and see six people at the table with six iphones out. I do sometimes worry that there will be an entire generation of people incapable of conversation outside of a 4-inch screen.
However, if a mom at the playground has already watched 20 cartwheels and 100 hand stands, I don’t think there is anything wrong with sitting on the bench and taking a few minutes to chill. It’s a way to let your children know that the axis of the earth does not, in fact, run through their spines. I don’t know when or where it was mandated that if you don’t spend every waking hour with your eyes glued to every precious thing your child does, you’re a bad mother.
How do you know she wrote that post about you? I read her post and it could have been about anyone. Your post came across as very defensive and angry. I’m sure you were just trying to make a point but I don’t understand why you wrote a big long story trying to justify your situation if you don’t think you are doing anything wrong. And putting the link to her blog just gave everyone the opportunity to read her side of the story and see that perhaps you overreacted a bit.
Love it I am glad someone finally had the balls to take that lady (and everyone like her) to task.
[…] to their kids…I couldn’t quite put my finger on why it made me so grumpy until I read this brilliant rebuttal over at Suburban Turmoil. Hell yes, […]
I love your response. It gripes me that that ‘other’ mother thinks she is so high and mightly. And it doubly gripes me that she says it is the Lord who is directing her. If you go to her Facebook page you will see that what she really wants is to grow her blog. And damn, we just helped her do that.
Love this,,well said!
Thanks, Lindsey. I read that original shaming post, and it made me see red. I appreciate the smart and well written counterpoint.
I’m new to this discussion, as I only saw the original post two days ago. But I just want to thank you for your words, and all the other words that were written in rebuttal to the original post. I’m a homeschooling, stay at home mom to five and I spend inordinate amounts of time doing things with and for my children. I watch puppet shows and original plays. I teach the to sew and fix their stuffed animals. I build Lego masterpieces with them. I read stories, cook meals and clean up barf. I sit and watch (yes, watch) swimming lessons, ballet lessons, and art lessons.
The original blogger stands by her statement, claiming divine inspiration for it. But the last time I checked, we were instructed not to judge others, not to cast stones, and to reflect inwardly before we correct others. Were her words timely? Perhaps. But there is so much we use our smartphones and tablets for these days, things our mothers used pens and paper. Do we criticize the mother reading a book in the park? Do we judge the mother jotting down a grocery list in the park?
Do I get to write a blog post entitled: Dear Mom who sends her kids to public school? Dear mom who doesn’t have a homebirth? Dear mom who takes her kids to daycare? NO! Because I have no idea what individual circumstances are there to come to that decision.
Again. Thank you for you post, and your humor. I think we could be friends.
And it’s incompetent people like you that are educating the future idiots of America. Send them to school, you really aren’t capable of teaching. :/
I have no earthly idea why anyone would care about scrolling through an iPhone. If you were doing it while pretending to read a story to your kid, that might be an issue. Or while your child was doing something specifically for your benefit/approval/amusement. But this? Is ridiculous. And no, “guest commenter”. Defending yourself isn’t judging. Regardless of how you spin it.
I don’t understand why there are so many issues with this. I see it all the time, and my kids are in high school. Why can’t we just understand that we’re different and we all have our own way of doing our mom thing.
I had the same response when that post was going around Facebook last year (although then it was attributed to some guy, which steamed me even more). Sounds like we are on the same page! http://www.wisconsinmommy.com/mommy-wars-judging-comment/
I love your response! I work from home (and the library, the park, wherever we are) and I also spend time texting my husband that works out of state. When the kids are playing at the park is a great time for me to record some of the neat things they’ve done and said over the last few days, snap some pics, and videochat with my husband so he can watch them play while we’re talking.
I have seen soooo much while my phone is open and my kids don’t think I’m paying attention. They let their guard down and I get to see who I am really raising. It’s amazing what you see when nobody thinks you’re looking.
for the most part, I absolutely like what you’ve written and agree that women are women’s harshest critics by far. However, I’ve also been places where the kids are being very unsafe or acting inappropriately (climbing the counters at Walmart,etc) and mom on cell phone isn’t addressing the behaviors. There are unfortunately so many ways for the little people to get hurt now a days that we (the village) need to be mindful of what they are doing and teach them how to act and talk in different settings. As long as we’re honestly trying to look out for the kids we shouldn’t get weird looks for telling little Johnny not to climb the railing overlooking the wild dog exhibits…
I would think that some of that is totally different and if you are keeping a general eye on things, your kids are probably going to be fine
I am not a mom myself, but I remember when my sister and I were taking swimming lessons my mom would frequently bring a book or bring some marking (she was a teacher back then) while she waited for us to complete our lesson. I suspect that there were times that we were at a park and my sister and I went to play at the playground while my parents set up or cleaned up our picnic or where visiting with other people that were there with us. When we were at my grandparents place, my sister and I would play in the basement while my grandparents did other things in the house. Kids need to learn to play without having constant adult supervision at some point in their lives or they are going to be totally dependent on others in order to do things.
Well said. Let’s all be a bit more caring and understanding towards each other – Mums are in this together.
Children say “watch me” to almost every little thing they do. They need to learn to play independently and pick the big moments. To respect that mom needs her time too – that as much as we love them that they aren’t the center of our world. We don’t wait hand and foot on them. Have to be careful that too much attention makes them spoiled and too dependent on you and having others boost their self esteem instead of having confidence in themselves. Nothing wrong at all to check your iphone or do work on it while at the park. Being at the park is as much for you as it is for them 🙂 You are a good mom!
I’m totally with you on this!!! I work full time from home, modern technology gives me the flexibility that I can work, provide financial support to our family AND take my kids to the park, I too got stares occasionally while tending to my work in the park, but again, those stared didn’t know my situation, no one should judge the others because we don’t all wear the SAME shoes!!! Good post!!!!!!!!!
YOU GO MAMA!!!!!!! *Cheers*
I’ve been yelled at many times for “ignoring” my bfs daughter…. please!!
How is making her play outside during the summer with her friends, ignoring her??
We live in a trailor park in the middle of nowhere… so she can run around all she wants!
When I first came into Angels life… she was used to 24/7 attention, to coddling, huggin, kissin, attention all day, everyday!! So, for me that was VERY stressful!! As she was smoothering me because that’s what she’s used too!!
My problem is that if I’m smoothered I have a panic attack!!
So, I slowly started to ween her off this constant need for attention!
And after several very long and stressful months, where my joke would be to her “I know you hate this and im going to say the dreaded word!! ‘Go…play!'” At which point she would run out of the room screaming and not return for hours….
The day she ran off to play without screaming was a glorious day… even better was the day she ran off to play WITHOUT being told!!!!
So, I agree 100%!! You can’t give your kids 100% attention… it’s not healthly for them or you!!!!
I am also on my iPhone while kids are playing, but sometimes, it annoys me when another child is hitting/pushing/throwing sand at my kids and his/her mom has no clue because she is doing something important on her phone. If I try to intervene, she suddenly becomes aware of half the situation, and becomes a mama bear. Do I let them figure it out on their own, too?
I think if another child’s behavior is affecting your child, or if that child is in danger, you have every right to intervene- regardless of what the other mom thinks about it.
it isnt about you capturing every moment of your childs life its about the fact that there too many fucked up people out there and you can be on your phone and in the five minutes youre on your phone checking those emails and text messages someone could have come up alfnd take your kid and you wouldnt have noticed til its too late thats what its about!!
Fortunately, most of us are actually able to check our emails and keep our kids in our peripheral vision at the same time! 🙂
Amen to that! Like I said in a previous reply, I run a small daycare and I can have up to 7 kids with me when we do our little field trips to the park. I manage to keep an eye on all of them while texting with parents. I have never had an incident and I always know where each child is, encouraging them to stay together and close to me of course. The park we go to is a fenced park and there are only 2 entrances, both near the parking lot and within view of the benches. It’s not hard to see who is coming and going, you can see the entire park from the benches…it’s easy to keep an eye on them.
In the 1970s, kids were usually sent to the park without their parents. The rate of crime against children is much LOWER today than it was then.
If I were a parent, I would be too scared to take my eyes off my child, especially in the park. I’m NOT judging here, just saying how I would be. Too much is going on in todays’ world and it only takes a split second for your child to be gone. Bottom line, it’s YOUR child so you do as you see fit. 🙂 Ahh the good old days when parks were safe.
TL; DR – don’t judge a person by a single action. Everyone has their own story.
Thanks. I’ve really been looking for someone to justify my addiction to my cell phone. Ever since my kid was kidnapped while I was playing Angry Birds on my phone I’ve been feeling kind of down. Like maybe it was my fault. But now I see that it wasn’t, because my self-righteous need for a break trumps good parenting. I mean, I’m a busy person. I have a job and that takes attention. I have to worry about bills and that holiday coming up and taking care of sick relatives. With all of that on my plate, who can really blame me for neglecting a little thing like that loud needy kid of mine?
I get so tired of these articles. You never see men doing this kind of writing. Quit with the mommy wars already.
But there is a formula to have your kids turn out right ha. Take a psychology class
Maybe people shouldn’t be having kids if they don’thave the time to spend with them . Think about that
Maybe even people who have kids have to make enough money to feed and clothe them- which obviously requires not spending every moment with them, smarty-pants.
[…] Dear Mom Judging Me for Using My iPhone | Suburban Turmoil […]