[This is in response to this blog post, which has shown up in a variety of places recently. If you haven't read it, please go do so, or this won't make any sense.]
Dear Judgmental Mom at the Park,
I see you over there under the tree, staring at me, shaking your head and 'tsk'ing every time I pick up my phone. (Oh, and it's not an iPhone. I wouldn't own an Apple product. But that's a rant for another day.) I can hear the not-so-subtle remarks you're making to your girlfriend over there as you judge me, without knowing what's going on. So, I'll tell you.
That little girl who is spinning in her beautiful dress? She's not mine. I'm watching her for a friend who had a family emergency. She is a little beauty queen, and I adore that sunshine in her hair. But, she's spent the entire morning whining for her mom, and my patience has worn a tad thin. Part of the reason I have my phone out is that I'm waiting for an update from her mama, to make sure everything is okay. In the meantime, yes, I'm catching up on a variety of other things.
And just because I'm not looking directly at her doesn't mean I don't see her. I do. And she's fine, spinning in the sunshine on her own for a moment.
Oh, yes, that is my son shouting, "Mom, watch this!" I know from three years with him that he's about to do something borderline dangerous that will make my heart leap into my throat. I also know from experience that he will probably be just fine. But my anxiety cannot handle watching him leap off of the equipment yet again. What's that? You didn't realize I have an anxiety disorder? Lots of us do, and watching every dangerous thing our kids do only makes it worse. So, yes, I seem to be ignoring him, but really, I'm trying very hard to sit on my hands and allow him to be the adventurous boy he is.
Now, I'm pushing my baby in the swing, and you are still talking crap about me. She is giggling and cooing with every push. Yes, I see her, and hear her, but my phone just beeped, and I think maybe it is my friend, letting me know what's going on. No. It's just spam, again. That's why I look so grumpy.
I have talked to this baby all morning. We have spoken about the clouds. We have talked about our God, but how do you know we even believe in a Creator? For all you know, we are atheists. We're not, but it's considered bad form to comment on someone's religious beliefs, especially when you have no idea what they are. And for the record, I love that baby laugh, but for now, I'm just relieved she's not screaming bloody murder again. Thank God for small miracles.
My eyes are on the prize - I am teaching my children to be independent, self-sufficient humans. They do not need nor want me to be right.there all the time. They need to learn to entertain themselves for a few moments at a time, lest I spend the rest of their precious lives dictating what they do and how they do it. My children are strong, capable little people, and it's partially because I "ignore" them from time to time. Yes, I'm on my phone, but that doesn't mean I've stopped parenting. I just choose to parent differently than you do.
I realize that playtime at the park will be over all too soon. I realize that the spinning dress, and the "Watch me!" and the baby giggles are fleeting. I also realize that at this moment, I am doing the best I can with what I have. All of us are.
My children may one day come to a point where they do not talk to me while I'm on my phone, but it won't be because they think it's more important than they are. It's because they will understand that even Mommy has a life outside of raising them. They will know that the world continues to turn, even when I'm not fully present in every moment. And maybe, just maybe, they will be okay.
My children know that I love them. They see it in the bedtime stories, and the cuddles. They taste it when I make them a special dinner, just because I know they love it. They smell it in my perfume, just as I still notice the familar way my mama smells when I hug her. They hear it when I say I love them, even when they misbehave. They feel it in the too-long hugs, and the tickle games, and my insistence on good-bye kisses. I know you cannot see all of this today at the park, but our days are made up of moments of love.
Perhaps you should practice that same love, and stop judging other moms.
I hope that, in the future, you can find self-assurance in your parenting skills without tearing apart others. Because really? Your children will see that, too. And I know you don't want them thinking that's okay.
-Mommy on the Phone-
P.S. Next time, rather than talking to your friend about me, or writing a passive-aggressive blog post, why not come and talk to me. You have no idea how much I would welcome some adult conversation. We may even become friends, if you can look past the fact that I check my phone occasionally.