By MIA FREEDMAN
It’s a well documented fact that I dislike going to the park. There is a good reason for this: I am an adult. Playgrounds are not designed for adults. If they were, they would be called Westfield.
I will do almost anything to avoid going to a park, including buying a trampoline (more about that shortly) however, when I am at the park, my phone is usually in my hand.
This is because my phone is always in my hand but also because – let’s be honest – parks are boring if you are older than, say, 10.
So it was with a slight reflective pang, followed by some guilt-induced anger and self-rightioussness that I read the following open letter on the blog 4 Little Fergusons today:
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 hair. She keeps glancing your way to see if you are watching her.
Gulp. No I’m not.
The online reaction to author Tonya’s letter was – wait, you’ll be shocked – swift and brutal, with mothers furiously typing away on their phones in playgrounds around the western world, defending their actions.
But do they really need defending? In fairness, the author of the letter, Tonya quickly added this postscript:
“This blog post is written for me, too! It could just as easily say Dear Mommy on the Computer, because I also struggle to find balance between needing a break, and knowing when its time to walk away from the computer to be Mommy again. So, I try to limit it to nap time and after the children are in bed. I am just asking for us to be aware of how this media time can overflow into our face to face time with our family and those around us.”
As we publish this post, Tonya is in witness protection.
Just kidding. Sort of.
Like many who read this open letter, I felt a deep prickle of recognition. Whether at the park or not, I’ve often had my time and attention sucked up by my phone and I can NEVER shake the fear that I’m missing out on my kids. Decades from now, will anyone lie on their deathbed and say “I wish I spent more time checking my phone”?
Do you struggle with this? I struggle. I struggle to be present and ‘not miss a moment’ of my kids but like I’ve said before, it can be
difficult impossible to be completely engaged with your kids every moment. And even if you could – would that be good for them?
Tonya makes a valid point but as anyone with a child will tell you, there are vast chunks of time (especially if you are home full-time) that are boring and repetitive. That’s OK – not every moment of our lives have to be exciting or fascinating – but it’s worth admitting.