When I go to the park with my kids, I push
them on the swings a bit, then I chase them a little, then I tell them to go
make some friends because Mama is tired. I eventually settle into sitting on a
bench and pull out my phone to catch up on Facebook, Instagram, articles and, of course, online quizzes.
I smile and applaud the other moms I see doing this
at the park and say "enjoy these free moments!" Because we know, once we leave,
we won't get this kind of uninterrupted paradise again—unless, like
me, you lock yourself in the closet to eat an ice cream sandwich alone. (Oh, and
bedtime. But that's its own battle that requires a lot more energy than it
Recently, while playing with my son at
the park, a mom came up and commented, "Ugh, that mom over there on her phone is
so disconnected. It's sad her poor child has to play alone."
At first I was
surprised, because I don't normally talk to other parents at the park—well, they don't normally talk to me— and also because I had no idea she was an authority
on parenting. After thanking her for informing me, I walked away, because I
found that comment to be a bit harsh (not to mention ridiculous). When did
reading on your phone equal bad parenting? I can think of about 10 things off
the top of my head that would equate to "bad parenting," but sitting in the
grass and reading while your children play isn't one of those things.
But after, like, 50 trips to the park with them, it was getting so tiring. Once you start throwing them up in the air you can't stop and tag is never actually tag.
This idea that a parent kicking back at
the park, mind you, A PARK, isn't allowed to use her phone blows my mind. A
park is where children go to play on slides and swings and climbing things. It's where they make friends. WHERE THEY CAN PLAY WITHOUT CONSTANTLY NEEDING MOMMY
FOR HOURS. A park is the perfect place to relax. You can actually respond to all
of those texts you haven't been able to get to, because you had to clean
spilled milk off the floor earlier this morning. You can finally read that
article you've had pulled up on your phone for a few days. You can even make a
phone call, and finish it, without one of your children suddenly needing to tell
you every little detail about the bathroom trip they just took.
I savor these moments. I can hear myself
think, and no one is touching me. I love the park. I'm pretty sure my kids
forget I exist at the park, until somehow they hear me opening a bag of chips
from a mile away. Then they remember exactly who I am.
I think we're slowly moving away (thankfully) from blog
posts/articles that judge mothers, because we're realizing that we are all very similar. I think our conversations about each other are always changing. We just have different ways of going about parenting.
I remember when I first
had children I swore I would be the parent that was playing with my kids,
because that's what good mothers do. But after, like, 50 trips to the park with
them, it was getting so tiring. Once you start throwing them up in the air you
can't stop and tag is never actually tag. Its just "mommy I'm hiding! Oh no
don't get me! Oh I'm getting you now!" It's cute, really, but I began envying
those smart women sitting on the side enjoying their books and magazines. They
looked peaceful, especially compared to my sweating self. I'd reassure myself
that I was creating memories with my children, ones they'd cherish forever. Now
I ask them about that one time at the park when they were like 1 and 2, and
they just stare blankly at me. They can recall, though, every kid they've ever
made friends with and played make believe with.
I believe that parenting is an honor. I believe it is something we share together. I don' t believe in deciding which of my fellow parents are "good" or "bad."
Maybe I'm just not memorable
enough for them.
I realize that
there is probably a parent out there somewhere whose use of the phone at the
park really is causing them to be distracted. But I still wouldn't call that
bad parenting. When I'm at the park with other parents, I may not interact with
my kids, but I do my part at keeping an eye on what's going on. I apply the village
mentality, that we can't do this alone. I know I might turn my head for a
minute and perhaps miss my child throwing bark chips up in the air. I hope
other parents would be willing to aid the removal of this outdoor confetti from
hair. Just like how I expect to help other parents out, say, if a child is stuck
at the top of a slide and afraid to come down and his parent is tending to
something else, and I'm available. Believe me, I'm more than happy to help out.
that parenting is an honor. I believe it is something we share together. I don'
t believe in deciding which of my fellow parents are "good" or "bad." I think
we're all in this together, just trying to do our best and fit our breaks and
pleasure in where we can.
For some of us, that's at the park in the middle of
So perhaps we shelve the judgment of
parents on phones or reading books and maybe remember our own battles we've
had on rough days. Take that Harry Potter quiz, even though you already know
which house you'll be sorted into.
You and every other parent deserves whatever
tiny breaks you can get. So take it, encourage it, support it.