To the writer of “Dear Mom On the iPhone” –
This morning I woke up and served breakfast for everyone in the house. I sat down to eat my own, and as I always do, I checked my email, Twitter, and Facebook. I did miss the moment when my daughter spilled milk all over the table. I’m sure it was ironically adorable, as her sloppiness usually is. But I had taken the time to make a special breakfast, so being absent mentally for a few minutes to clear out my emails and notifications seemed fair. No one’s life is entirely defined as being a parent.
As I scrolled through my email and Facebook, though, I came upon a letter, titled “Dear Mom On the iPhone.” I’ve seen this before. Many, many times before. There are many versions of it, as there always are of Internet memes and cyber-urban legends. (The best cyber-urban legend is the one about the black man on the airplane being moved to First Class…if I had a dollar for every time that one was retold…)
This one – Dear Mom On the iPhone – talked about a mom at the park with her kids. The kids were having a great time and the mom was missing it, because she was on her iPhone. The daughter spun around and her dress twirled; Mom on the iPhone missed that, or just smiled. The son was teetering on something and yelled “Mom look at me!!” and we were to take this as a sign that mom doesn’t care. There were a few paragraphs indicting Mom On the iPhone for using her phone and teaching her children that they are unimportant. Then in the end it seemed like we were all supposed to join forces to judge Mom On the iPhone as a shitty parent, and remind ourselves how much our self-righteous superiority has validated our own choices.
To the writer of Mom On the iPhone, I say: here we go again.
Here we go again, judging people at face value. Do parents often display an addiction to technology – both at home and in public? Yes. Is it an ever-growing problem in our society? Sure it is. But do we know everything about their lives that gives us the right to judge what they are doing on their iPhones, or whether or not ignorance of their child(ren) swinging gleefully in the sunlight is justified? Absolutely not.
Here we go again, telling others how to parent. Ignoring your kid all the time is shitty, yeah. So is feeding your child McDonald’s for a steady three meals a day. But who is the one that has to pay the price in the end? Is it us? Or is it them? Well, sure – it’s actually their kids. But are those our kids? No. They aren’t. Therefore, it’s none of our goddamned business, now is it?
And again, do we know everything about their lives? Maybe the kids are being ignored sometimes because Mom On the iPhone was only given the afternoon off if she stayed in constant contact with work. It’s surely better that she be there on her phone, than not be there at all. Maybe Mom On the iPhone would lose her job if she didn’t respond to emails. Or maybe Mom At McDonald’s only has $5 a day to feed her kids, and the only way to stretch that is to eat fast food. I don’t want to hear any bullshit about how Mom On the iPhone could just ignore her boss’s demand, or how Mom At McDonald’s can cook at home for cheaper. Both are just categorically false.
Here we go again, dictating how others should live their lives. Maybe Mom On the iPhone is a stay at home mom. Her job is that of a housewife. She cleans, cooks, shuttles, cooks some more … does laundry, gets the homework taken care of, chairs the PTA, and supervises the soccer clinic. She has few friends, and virtually no escape. Her every waking moment is spent on her kids. Except that 30 minutes of downtime at the park, when she can put the kids on autopilot and take a breather.
Everyone needs a breather.
Here we go again, demanding that we cease to exist the moment we have children. Sure, people chose to have children and often don’t realize the gravity of that choice. Your kids are there all the time, so you should be too and all that jazz. But having kids is not the end of you. Having kids did not make me love books less. Having kids did not make me want to stop traveling less. The decision to drop one out the vag does not mean that suddenly we have to surrender everything we know and love.
Here we go again, worrying about others instead of ourselves. And this is the real kicker, and why I think the “Dear Mom On the iPhone” urban legend is just another piece in the puzzle that is the Mommy Wars. Rather than worrying about what we are doing as parents, we spend all of our time telling others what they are doing wrong. I can only assume to justify our own decisions. For every version of “Dear Mom On the iPhone,” there is another “Dear Mom…” that does nothing more than tell others how to live their lives as parents. “Dear Mom That Doesn’t Breastfeed;” “Dear Mom That Had a Home Birth;” “Dear Mom At McDonald’s;” “Dear Mom In A Short Skirt;” “Dear Mom That Works Too Much;” “Dear Mom That Had an Elective C-Section” … it could go on forever.
I’m tired of it. I’m tired of hearing (or in this case, reading) people telling others how to live. I’m tired of knowing that people are this judgmental and lacking of compassion. I’m sick of being reminded that we all seem to expect everyone’s lives and situations to be just like ours. To the writer of “Dear Mom On the iPhone,” and all of the other “Dear Moms…” there are out there, perhaps you should start worrying about your own parenting. If I were to write a letter to you, it would be all about how you are raising your kids to be judgmental assholes. It would include a little paragraph about how while you are out attacking other people’s values, your kids are learning the quality of self-righteous superiority. That kind of indignation sticks. You are just contributing to the next generation of jerk-offs.
But then I would never write such a letter. I mean I know I just did, but you faithful blog followers know what I mean. Rather than always worrying about others, and expecting everyone to live by the standards we have set up for ourselves, why don’t we just focus on raising our own good kids, that will hopefully become really good adults? Maybe instead of writing letters to others, we should worry only about inscribing letters to ourselves.