Mommy Guilt: Play With My Kids or Play With My iPhone?

by Brandi Lee, Parenting Without A Parachute Contributor

There have been a few articles and blog posts making the Facebook rounds recently, addressing the evils of the iPhone or other similar cellular devices.  Have you read them?

iphone
I stumbled across the first one a few months ago, and the author’s words coaxed me into a downward spiral of guilt.  At first, I was feeling guilty about texting, checking my email, and Facebooking while my kids were in the same room, in the house at all, or even awake.  The next thing you know, I was feeling guilty for working, for cleaning, for going to the bathroom by myself.

LIFE IS SHORT, the author warned!

BE PRESENT IN EVERY MOMENT, she admonished!

YOU’LL WISH YOU HAD THESE DAYS BACK, she predicted!

I found myself hyperventilating, imagining what would happen if my children died.  I started picturing their empty beds, their empty rooms, and I was an anxiety-ridden mess, waiting for the proverbial shoe to drop and shatter my world, all because I updated my Facebook status while my kids were doing a puzzle.

Life went on, I took the author’s point to heart but realized I couldn’t really live life that way, paralyzed by fear and guilt.

And then earlier this week, someone else got mad at mommies and their phones again.  This author painted a picture... your daughter swinging at a park in the sun, feeling the fresh air on her golden little face, and there you are, you evil mother: looking at your phone instead of pushing her, talking to her, singing to her, bringing her a homemade organic cookie in between pumps.

And instead of this article making me feel guilty, it just pissed me off.  When are we going to stop trying to make other parents feel guilty for their choices?

Guess what?  I freaking LOVE my iPhone.  I love that all of my calendars are synced, that I’m organized, that my clients can have quick access to me if they need to, and that I can CHOOSE to reply to them immediately or wait till a more convenient time.  I love that I can look something up on the fly, wherever I am, that I can take a picture of my kid swinging because I don’t happen to carry my real camera with me everywhere we might make a memory worth recording, that my kids can FaceTime with their grandparents who live 600 miles away.

My iPhone rocks, and iLove it.

Guess what else I love?  Reading those stupid eCards on Facebook; they crack me up!  And I don’t feel guilty for checking in to read them and laughing for 30 seconds in the middle of my day.

What’s more, I love the connections I can maintain through Facebook.  I have friends and family who unfortunately live too far away for daily, weekly, or even monthly visits.  And yes, it’s really hard to find 45 minutes to make a phone call and play catch up.  But I can check in and see what everyone is up to, read an inspiring or informational article that a like-minded friend has posted, or even laugh at that grumpy cat…and feel better for it, not guilty.  I don’t spend 24 hours a day online or on my phone.  I try to balance work, with home life, with social life, with me-time.

Some days I succeed, some days I fail.

But I’m done letting some anonymous holier-than-thou blogger make HER guilt become MY guilt.

Let’s quit pretending that we can be 100% present with our children 24 hours a day.  It’s not possible, and dear God, what kind of children would we raise if it were?

I can’t NOT work because I have children.  But I can teach them WHY I work, I can teach them the value of hard work, about pride in a job well-done, and about saving and giving.

I can’t NOT clean because I have children.  I’m sick of people saying, “Oh just let the laundry pile up and the house be a mess because one day you’ll miss those muddy footprints on the floor and sticky handprints on the wall.”  Guess what?  I won’t ever miss the mess.  I hate messes.  And if my kids grow up in a house where we value playing a puzzle over living in a clean house, what am I teaching them?  It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does have to be clean.  And I can teach them the value of hard work, about pride in a job well-done, about how great it feels to relax and enjoy our downtime in a clean house.

And finally, I’m NOT going to stop checking my email from my phone or scheduling a little time during my day to hop on my computer and connect with my friends in my family.  All of my village may not be local, but they do help me feel happy and supported in the life I am living, and that is a benefit to my entire family.

brandifinal copy[15]Brandi Lee is a stay-at-home mother of two boys by day and recently turned working mom and photographer on nights and weekends, or whenever her children are asleep or not looking. Her life B.C. (before children) gave her fulfillment as a high school English teacher, and she finds that photography fills that same place in her heart, one of personal connections with people. Her ultimate goal is to balance work with family time, to be both a provider and nurturer, but she would settle for a trip to the bathroom by herself and an uninterrupted train of thought. Brandi's visual storytelling can be viewed at Balee Images and a monthly guest author at Parenting Without A Parachute.

 

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