Dear Mom Judging Me For My iPhone

iPhone Mom

A couple of weeks ago, Jeff and I spent a morning running around after our children during a carnival hosted at their school. As hour number three approached, my capacity for other people’s children rapidly reaching code red zone, I pulled out my phone and hopped on Twitter for a few minutes. Of course, those few minutes happened to coincide with my bumping into one of my children’s teachers.

After she greeted me, she gently pulled the phone out of my hand and whispered “tsk, tsk” as she shook her head. My face turned red as she gestured to the surrounding children whom I clearly should have been watching instead. My phone shamefully remained in my coat pocket for the rest of the afternoon, while I found other ways to occupy the time, none of which included actually playing with the kids who blissfully ignored my presence while they ran around with their friends.

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I forgot about the whole interaction (or, rather blocked it out) until I came across a post yesterday, Dear Mom on The iPhone. It begins…

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 long hair.
She keeps glancing your way to see if you are watching her. 

You aren’t…

It goes on and on and on about the precious moments that a mother is missing while immersed in technology. “Now you are pushing your baby in the swing. She loves it! Cooing and smiling with every push. You don’t see her though, do you? Your head is bent, your eyes on your phone as you absently push her swing.”

Bad, bad mother, the comments preach. How selfish! How self-absorbed! How dare a mother absentmindedly push a swing when she could be relishing every single back and forth motion. What is our society coming to?

Well, I am that mother at the park on her iPhone, thank you very much. I’m the one who gets scowled at and pointed to and written about. Sometimes it’s the park, others it’s an indoor playzone or maybe it’s a birthday party. If I’m out with my kids, and they are entertained, it’s not uncommon that my iPhone is entertaining me. But that fact doesn’t make me a bad mom. In fact, I’d argue that it helps make me a better one.

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Checking in on Twitter or Facebook allows me to collect myself and maintain a sense of humor about things that might otherwise set me off. It’s kind of the social media immersed mother’s version of a long drag on a cigarette. It helps ground me and gain perspective. The permanent marker covered Evan a few years ago would have been far more upsetting than amusing were it not for the ensuing hilarity in Facebook comments. Having my friends and community a simple click away is a much needed break at the very least, and a near lifesaver at the most.

I work from home, and part of working from home (FYI, Marissa Mayer) means taking that work with me, wherever my day may go. I am fortunate to have the freedom and flexibility to bring my kids into school every day and pick them up at three and spend the afternoon and evening hours with them. And I treasure that ability. If it means having to respond to e-mails or follow up on things while the rest of the working world is still behind a desk, I don’t see that as a problem. Would it be better to get a traditional desk job and have a nanny caring for them all day and night.

Besides, being on my phone in public, at places like sports practice where the kids are surrounded by friends and the park where they can run around and play, makes it more likely that I’ll be off of the phone when I’m home alone with them.

And maybe, I’m on my phone at the park because I don’t really feel like engaging with that preachy looking mother who, if not judging me for my phone use, would most certainly find something else about me to be appalled by.

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I would never, ever claim to be a perfect mother. I have moments of stellar mothering and moments of complete crappiness, and they are usually separated by mere seconds. At the end of the day, I strive for two things: 1. To make my children feel loved, and 2. To have the proud parenting moments outweigh the regrettable ones. Adding “always place undivided attention on my children 24/7” to the list really wouldn’t benefit my children and it sure as hell wouldn’t benefit me.

One small snippet that someone happens to witness at a park or a restaurant or in a parking lot hardly paints a thorough picture of any family, so judging based on what you happen to catch in a single moment is laughable. Almost as laughable as the notion of taking my kids to a bounce zone and having my eyes glued to them jumping up and down for four hours straight.

About the writer


What started as an innocent on-line baby book to chronicle Jill Smokler’s stay-at-home days with her children, quickly transformed into a vibrant community of parents, brought together by a common theme: Parenting doesn’t have to be perfect. Welcome to Scary Mommy!


Lori 2 weeks ago

Not saying you are a bad parent when you are on your phone but for YEARS there wasn’t this distraction for a people to be self absorbed in. You went places and interacted with others. You watched your child at a ball game, park, library. You engaged in conversation with others, even putting up with the bragging loud mouthed parent because THAT IS WHAT YOU DO. Technology has become a replacement and excuse to be complacent.

Aura Lee 2 weeks ago

My youngest son was a lifeguard at a community pool when he was 16 and 17. More than once he had to save a small child from drowning right in front of the mother who was too engrossed in her phone to notice! There is a time and a place, and it’s NOT when you are with your kids!

April 2 weeks ago

I relate to this article. Boy do I understand this mom! When I’m on my phone, I’m doing my college homework so when I’m home I can help them with theirs. I am taking photos of them, sharing with family that can’t be there (dad, grandparents, aND extended family). I’m committing with my 4 oldest children, who is picking up who from where, and when. I’m check my schedule for the next kids’ events or is this date going to work for play date. I can be communicating with my husband’s 6+ specialists doctors coordinating appointments and medication with transplant team.

Really don’t appreciate the judgements of others, you don’t know my heart or my children’s either.

Jean 3 weeks ago

#1 complaint I had from my students year after year is about their parents being on the phone all the time. I’ve found it interesting because when I started teaching (way before cell phones), students complained about their parents never giving them any space. How the tide has turned!!! Food for thought: That facebook post will be there later tonight after they’ve gone to sleep. Their childhoods disappear in the blink of an eye.

JI 3 weeks ago

It only takes the blink of an eye for someone to abduct a child. That is a a thought worth considering when out in public. Don’t assume anyone else is looking out for your child.

julie 6 months ago

I think that kids grow up before we know it and yes we don’t need to watch every moment you missed the whole point of the letter. Its only saying that they are only little for so long so try and capture as many memories as you can. Its not saying sitre and stare at every bounce in a bounce house its saying when they call mommy please watch me then put the phone away and watch. That’s my understanding of the letter and I’m a mom myself…

CJ 12 months ago

I am 100% judging you for that iPhone because you should totally have an Android, just sayin’.

    CJ 12 months ago

    And that was totally a joke, btw

Sunny 1 year ago

I WISH another adult would take my property out of my hands or comment TO my child about how I dressed him. How dare either of those people. I would have a hard time not putting THAT person in his or her place on the spot. 1 year ago

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erika 1 year ago

Yes. Perfect. Thank you. 1 year ago

I love your point about facebook making what would be a mommy tragedy into comic relief- it’s instant friendly support.
I have a hard time with this, because our LIVES are on our phones now- bank accounts, friends, email, pictures, calculators, alarms, music, shopping, coupon apps, etc., etc., and for me, my college classes are easily accessible from my phone. So, a couple days a week, I take my kids to a play group, because, we are together ALL-THE-TIME, and occasionally I set them loose to play with the other kids, I sit back, and read assigned readings, OR check fb. Every time, I feel so out of place, and wrong. Like, why are other people judging me for not building blocks with my kids, when there are 10 other kids around? It’s like the phone is a sin. A sin! I don’t get it, but I don’t care. Thanks for the post, which looks like it’s from while ago, but I will be following you so that I don’t miss anything else!


Kate 1 year ago

OMG. A hundred thousand times yes. I am so sick of reading those “shaming” articles. I agree, it has always helped me stay sane, knowing my mom, or sister,or aunt.or dad was right on the other end if I needed to vent, or a moment to be an ADULT. I think people today forget that moms are so much more than only moms…we are people. Whole, adult people, who need an identity away for their children. And my children never, ever have to question if I love them…I show them every day.

rae 1 year ago

thank you! When me and my best friend take our girls to the park we sit in the moms area beside the closed in toddler area (our girls are both 2) and take turns on our phones. She keeps a look out while I catch up on my fb news feed or what ever and I do the same for her. Sometimes we are on at the same time but one of us glances up every so often to check. This is also the time we catch up on what’s new in our lives that we maybe haven’t been able to discuss in the random text we send each other. When you have a very high energy toddler and your a stay at home mom sometimes those 5 minutes on the phone can really center you. We have both got dirty looks and stares while on our phones.

But what these people don’t realize is I’m with my daughter from eyes open to eyes close. We read books, watch movies, dance like fools, sing, count etc. 5 minutes on my phone is my 5 minutes.

Biblegal1 2 years ago

You’ll be singing a different tune if your precious child disappears while you are engrossed in your phone. I am a grandma who is totally enamored with my grandchildren’s antics and conversation in a way I was not with my own 4 children. And I did not even have a phone back then but there were distractions aplenty anyway.

Kristi 2 years ago

A lot of people definitely overuse devices, but there was a lot about paying 100% attention to the kids in the article/in the comments of the articles like that one.. it’s not just our generation that has been distracted from our kids- we just have a different kind of distraction. Before, it was books, it was housework, it was moms at playdates paying attn to each other instead of the kids, etc. People are too judgmental of each other, and our kids are the ones suffering because heaven forbid we don’t pay attention to every single thing!

jmorrow 2 years ago

I know many of you are trying to feel better about what you do, but I disagree with this. I don’t think it is just a matter of paying attention to our children. You are going to raise a child that will surely be addicted to tablets/devices and constant stimulation from media. You are going to look like hippocrits every time you encourage them to study or read a book.

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Sarah 2 years ago

I was reading some comments and a lot of mom said they felt guilty after reading the judgy iPhone post. I didn’t feel guilty when I first read it. I’m definitely an iPhone mom too. I actually felt sorry for her. She seemed like the kind of mom who makes her kids the center of the universe. I don’t envy anyone with that outlook. It’s not good for anyone.


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