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.

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.

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.

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.


The Scary Mommy Community is built on support. If your comment doesn't add to the conversation in a positive or constructive way, please rethink submitting it. Basically? Don't be a dick, please.

  1. Amy Lemaniak says

    THANK YOU for this!! I read the original article on Facebook last might and have felt like a shitty mom scarring my kids for life ever since! This perspective reminds me that its ok to so things for myself and my own sanity sometimes!

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      • Nancy says

        I just came across scary mommy after reading an article about breast feeding. I must have been under a rock or something, because this woman is genuinely THE best blogger I have read. Will tell my daughter:) I am supposedly a grown up now with two grandkids, but am signing up in a heartbeat:) Her sense of humor is joyful, and sums up soooo much of what we as women ( or men for that matter) feel regarding parenting. Wish I had known about her when I first had my kids:) Love!

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  2. Meg @ Soup Is Not A Finger Food says

    I was on the receiving end of a “sanctimommy” moment myself this week… as the school principal opened my car door to let my son out at the drop-off in the morning, she said to him, loud enough so I could hear, SHORTS TODAY? THAT’S UNACCEPTABLE ATTIRE! I rolled down my window and said, I think he’ll be OK. But what I thought was, how about you be in charge of educating and I’ll be in charge of what my kid wears and if it’s truly causing some kind of problem for him or other kids, then let’s have a private, adult conversation about it. Ugh.

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    • MamaBennie says

      Our schools have a rule where kids can only wear shorts between the months of April and October. Even if it is warmer earlier. :-/ If they are in unacceptable attire they get sent home. They get sent home 3 times they get suspended. Doesn’t matter what grade they are in either. Then again, public schools also have uniforms here. *sigh* I hate so many rules. If the school doesn’t have a policy on it though, they could at least treat you like a damn adult and have a private conversation. That was just rude and unprofessional.

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    • Kat says

      My daughter, like her father, is often very HOT. So even in 50-degree temperatures, we don’t always put her jacket on because she’ll be a puddle in her car seat. I take exception when its cold and rainy or cold and windy, but otherwise, she doesn’t need any heavy clothing. I get a lot of judgment for not dressing her “appropriately” from other mommies and grandmothers. I am very quick to let them know that I know my daughter best. I dress her for her comfort, not theirs.

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      • lacey says

        i’ve gotten those commenta more times than i can count. my kids are both still in carseats and it’s considered unsafe to wear extra layers in it. i’m damned if i do and damned if i don’t

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      • Shari says

        Hell, when it gets to 50 degrees here and the sun’s out my children like to wear shorts and I don’t stop them. Where we live that’s considered “warm” weather.

        And, thank you for posting this. I was feeling like a crappy mom after I read that article this last week. Like someone else said, the internet helps keep her sane. The same goes for me.

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      • Marcie says

        Hehehe, 50 degree weather here in Canada is down right balmy. You get a couple of degrees above freezing on a sunny day and you’ll see all the kids (and adults) stripping off their coats to enjoy the warm day. I have fond
        memories of walking home from school swinging my winter coat around with the sound of melting snow dripping down the gutters:) Weather is in the eye of the beholder and we all feel it differently.

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      • Anita says

        I have had that happen. My son straight up refuses any and all forms of a hat rain or shine, winter or summer. I actually had a lady come up to me when he was 5 months old and scold me for not putting a hat on him in february. He had a blanket on his head and a jacket on and I was so frustrated and annoyed. I hate when people comment on what your kids do or wear like they know better.

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    • Stephanie says

      My 13-year-old son announced to me at the beginning of the school year that he would only wear long pants (jeans) when it snowed. Otherwise, he’s wearing shorts. I’m fine with it, not a battle I want to fight with my kid–there are so many others I have to fight. Plus, he’s only outside briefly when he gets dropped off and gets off the bus. His school is enclosed. Whatever, you know your kid best. Doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. Also, my son wears nothing but hoodies–no coat! Gasp! Let the judgers judge.

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      • Lundie says

        So very nice to know that I’m not alone with a shorts-wearing kid. The INSTANT my 7yo comes home from school, the socks and pants come off and shorts go on (and if he was wearing a long-sleeved shirt, a T-Shirt replaces it as well). Getting pants back on him if we have to go out is a constant struggle.

        I’ve just had to accept that as long as he isn’t having constant sniffles he’s perfectly capable of regulating his own body temperature! :)

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        • Faith Hopkins says

          For all your children over-heating to where normal seasonal weather is too hot for them, you should know that if this is the case, there is something wrong health wise and their organs are actually working over time- more specifically their heart. Most often this happens in children who carry more fat stores than what is needed, or who have insulin imbalances. Just because the temp is cooler and they are sweating doesn’t mean a thing- other wise skiers would ski in bikini’s, runners would wear shorts in the winter, swimmers would sometimes swim fully clothed. (In non extreme cases).
          Catching viruses and bacterial infections has nothing to do with regulating body temp. Over heating is a health condition and it is a symptom of something going wrong.
          I don’t normally voice my opinion- but from a medical perspective those comments concerned me enough to respond.

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          • Cowgirl Up says

            Sorry, that’s just not always the case. Sometimes, it’s perfectly fine to be a bit on the warmer side.

            My husbands and son are warmer. We asked doctors – both adult and pediatrician – of this was an issue and they said “no, everyone is slightly different – and there is no one perfect ‘normal’. ”

            I would venture to say their doctors probably have a handle on things.

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          • AMummysLife says

            I have to disagree with this. I was that girl who wore singlet tops and shorts in the middle of winter and didn’t feel the cold. I was not over weight and was reasonably active and extremely healthy.

            I just never felt the cold and I hardly ever got sick compared to my heavy winter apparel friends.

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          • Iska says

            Umm. I have skied in a bikini and I see plenty of runners who wear shorts. Everybody is different. Also your diet can change how you feel. I now eat more meat and don’t freeze as quickly at night in bed. TCM is huge on foods and how they affect your body chi. If the kids are healthy and not running a constant low grade fever, I say let them wear what is comfortable. The body knows best.

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          • Faith Hopkins says

            If I offended the way you chose to live I wish to express my apologies, however I was not offering my opinion, I am a pediatric oncologist and am extremely familiar with how the body work and when it is sending signals of stress. This was my concern, however, take it for what you will.

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          • WickedSteppMom says

            Faith; In many cases, the signs mentioned are that of stress-but generally they have other symptoms that accompany them. My husband & children all have higher than 98.6 body temperature…normal for them is over 99. On the other hand, if my temperature actually reaches 98.6, I’m a *VERY* sick woman…my “normal” has been around the 96-97 range my whole 37 years. I have epilepsy & have seen multiple neurologists, epileptologists & a neurosurgeon over the years, and all have confirmed what I learned in my own medical training…”normal” body temp is a guide that can be used a symptom w/other issues, but an “abnormal” body temp alone doesn’t necessarily indicate you have something wrong with you.

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          • Cindy says

            My husband was born in Siberia. His genetic makeup is such that he can withstand cold more than the rest of us. It is physiology. My children therefore will have some of this tendency as well. Thankyouverymuch.

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          • Eloisa says

            I wonder if people are judging me in the middle of summer when I’m wearing a light cardigan over my shoulders because I’m often cold. Yes, I have a lower hemoglobin level than the average person but my doctors feel it’s acceptable. But I’m out and running around with my kids, I’m at the beach and I’m not laying lazily on my sofa ignoring my kids.
            My daughter runs extremely hot as well as my 79 y/o mother who takes tap dancing, yoga and tai chi. I guess there’s nothing wrong with her!

            As for my iPhone at the park, I’m usually documenting the day with photos and commenting on what is going on, with the clever comments my kids come up with.
            I recently went through a ton of old videos taken on my phone over the past 5 years and laughed all over again. I have these memories forever and remember them exactly as the day I took the initial photos. :)

            Judge-y mothers protest too much!

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          • Aly says

            I beg to differ. No, I’m not a mom, but I am with my little brother constantly and he’s ALWAYS hot even though he’ll be sitting on the couch doing absolutely nothing. Nothing is wrong with him either, he just happens to be one of those boys that overheats all the time. He’ll come home from school and even in winter when I’m covering up with a blanket on the couch, he’ll be stripping down to his undies and sitting around in them until mom comes home. It’s just how he is.

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      • Natalie says

        My son wears shorts from time-to-time in the winter. They spend most of the day indoors anyway!!

        When my daughter was younger, she would never zip up her jacket. She used to tell me that she had a fire inside her. She had a brand-new coat that her friend was somehow standing on & when my daughter picked it up, the zipper pull popped off. I didn’t bother doing anything about it b/c she never zipped up her coat anyway. A couple days later, her teacher sent a message home that I had to buy her a new coat. Embarrassed into doing this, I went and bought her a new coat w/ a functional zipper. The next day, they were sent home early b/c it was snowing. I was standing outside FREEZING in my 3 layers & zipped up coat… while my daughter was running around w/ her brand-new coat… UNZIPPED!!

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        • anonomys says

          im a guy and i dont have kids but i believe that when its cold children should be zipped if i did have kids id be upset 2 if they werent zipped up i have zipped coats for kids several times i dont blame u for being upset when your child doesent have his or her coat zipped up id want it zipped 2 try 2 be strong and stick 2 your guns

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          • Alicia says

            While I appreciate your comment, unless you have kids you don’t know the great struggle of the clothing battle every morning. Trying to “stick to your guns” is like trying to wrestle a wet cat into a sweater. It involves far too much energy that as a very tired mom (or dad) it is not worth expending it, especially prior going to work at 8:30 am and that you need to have them fed, dressed, teeth brushed, etc on top of getting yourself ready. It IS very upsetting like you said, when your kid’s jacket isn’t zipped up and they’re fighting tooth and nail at 7am and you know you’re getting judged at the bus stop bc your kid is the only one in an unzipped jacket and shorts! So, in short if your kid is HOT like mine all the time no matter the season, please don’t judge me why she is in shorts and a tank top today. Hope one day you’ll understand when you have kids (if you choose to) and you seem to have a good perspective now, but just keep this site in mind once you get there lol.

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      • kim says

        When my son started 10th grade he announced he intended to wear shorts to school for the entire year. After endless soul searching and many ‘what will the teachers think’ I decided not to force the issue. I did tell him that if he got even a cold, he was paying for the doctor’s appointment and the medicine. He did not get sick once. (I drew the line at sledding in shorts. He could choose to sled in pants or stay inside in shorts) He got tons of attention from many of the girls and I found out in June that he won a five dollar bet. Thanks for reminding me of that very funny year.

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    • Lisa says

      I hat that people always comment about my 9 year old son wearing shorts in the winter. Hey – its his legs and if he’s not cold I’m ok with it. Unlike our mothers we now know that not wearing a hat or wearing shorts in the winter will NOT cause pneumonia!

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  3. Suzanne @ Fit Minded Mom says

    I so needed to see this today!! I am that mom, too but I think it is just fine. Sure, if I were always on my phone and ignoring my kids that might be an issue. But damn, if you cannot take a few minutes to yourself at the park while your kids are running around having fun, when can you?! Catering to kids 24/7 is setting them up to be self centered grown ups.

    I am far from the perfect mom(find me one who is!!) but I am sick of the articles put out there contributing to mommy guilt. As if we don’t have enough already!!!

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  4. SAHM says

    I am also that mom. It also gives me time to collect. So I don’t start screaming at the snotty self entitled brats the ppl who criticize and glare have raised.

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  5. Traci Guthrie says

    I stumbled upon your blog on Pinterest and love it! I am always the mom refusing to push swings and handing my kids goldfish while the moms fresh from their stroller workout class in designer tennis skirts feed their kids freeze dried mango and Smart Water. My sister and I text each other constantly about what we overhear other moms talk about. Somewhere along the way I missed the “how to be a fake mom” class!

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    • Kristin says

      I missed that class too!! My daughter is 5 and when I take her to the park, I don’t just refuse to push the swing because I’m lazy or anything… I refuse because I am standing there TEACHING her to do it on her own. Kids of these moms who think they are superior because they have the time and the money to spend on these terribly pointless and indulgent things are actually the ones losing out sometimes. While their mother is striving to be perfect and everything, my kid is learning independence and real life. Not everything is going to be handed to them. And I refuse to do it. When I take my 5 year old to dance class, my 3 year old and 7 month old happen to be the ones who behave better than those 7 year olds with their fancy video games and all organic crap their moms shove in their faces as they sit in their little “club” talking about things they sell on Etsy and how much they spent on their daughters tutus. My kid has a stuffed animal and a rattle. Content to play on their own, so why should I have to sit and stare at them, bored out of my mind? A minute or two on the phone (or in my case iPad) isn’t going to hurt them. I don’t block out everything, I’m still completely aware of what’s going on. And yes, I have stopped an older boy harrassing my son while she was on her phone. standing not 4 feet away from me. saying NOTHING. That is when it becomes unacceptable. Rant done. Sorry :) I only meant to say I missed the “how to be a fake mom” class… I took the common sense and real parenting class instead.

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      • Dana says

        Bravo! You and I would get along very well. I am also trying to teach my son to do things for himself and be independent. I thought that was one of the main goals in raising children. I usually refuse to push my 6.75 year old on a swing because I know he can do it himself.

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    • KrabbyKay says

      Hey, yeah!! I have a “dumb phone”, but I read my Kindle in the park!!! Hel-LO, it’s THE PARK!!! Don’t you go there for the kids to entertain *themselves* for a bit?? You know what else I do? I let my kids play out back, or even IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD, and I’m not right there!!!!! Ohhhhhh, I can hear the collective gasp from here!!

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      • Melanie says

        Hear! Hear! My son is playing with the neighborhood kids outside as I write this, from my living room on the iPad. I check the window occasionally and can hear them. no screams? Time to check Facebook. :)

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        • essijay says

          just be careful with that – i had child services called on me because i let my kid (almost 8) go outside to play without being outside with him. and, of course, the worker comes in and gives me all the horror stories about kids being snatched and predators in their car full of stuffed animals and toys being caught watching kids walk home from school… all said, of course, in front of my child… so now he’s scared to go outside, so he instead he sits inside and whines about how bored he is all day long.

          i’m the single mother, homeschooling because i’m too poor to send him to private school (where it’s possible he may be abused there also), with no family in the area – so i’m with my child 24/7 — i’m the mom immersed in my technology because, if i don’t have some sort of adult interaction, i will go completely nuts – and THAT’S not good for my kid. and quite frankly, i don’t want to stare at my child all day every day – oh what a shitty mother that makes me!

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          • Melanie says

            Thanks for that. I appreciate what you are saying, but don’t take my comments as saying I’m not keeping a close eye on my kids. My son and pack o’ pals run from our house to his buddies over an over. He is well cared for an looked after.

            I’m an awesome mom (as I am sure you are) and I want him to run and play and explore and be outside and get fresh air and play with his friends. He’s not playing alone, he’s playing with kids from the neighborhood of all ages (5-12), where they are teaching each other to skate, ride bikes, and play soccer. It’s brilliant and they love it. If they weren’t playing outside they’d be inside playing alone on the computer or the like complaining of being bored. I’m grateful on play days that he goes to bed tired from play rather than tired from lethargy.

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          • Andrea says

            I’m sorry to hear that essijay. These stories give child services a bad rep. I’m sure they were just responding to the call, but it sounds like you have neighbors keeping an eye on you. I would definitely try to look into some joint homeschooling options to give you and your son a change of scenery. I don’t know a lot about it, but there are a lot of resources for homeschoolers in my area. Maybe private school tuition breaks in the future? I’m not trying to give you yet another set of mommy advice regarding education. I would crack up if I was trying to homeschool my kids (though when my son was diagnosed with ADHD at 7 it passed my mind for a second). I’m sure the whole scene leaves a bad taste in your mouth, but maybe use it to branch out so your son can make some other buds if none in neighborhood.

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          • essijay says

            yeah, the reason they were called is because he was sitting in the stroller (we use it to take laundry to the laundromat 4 blocks away) and someone driving through the neighborhood thought it was a toddler with no adult around – which is completely understandable and i’m glad that people would call in those situations. the neighborhood here is full of busybodies, always watching and gossiping – which is the only reason i feel safe letting him out alone, because i KNOW people are watching everything that’s going on in the ‘hood.

            there are a couple groups around but they’re all really religious and i’ve had bad experiences with them trying to tell my kid about satan and hell and such – he’s got the emotional age of a 4 year old and i don’t feel he’s ready to hear things like that (honestly doubt he should ever hear it – spiritual decisions should be based on love not fear)

            thanks, though, for the advice! :-)

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          • says

            Not sure how old this is… but I’d encourage you to look into online homeschooling groups, or even starting one of your own if you can’t find one that’s not overtly religious in your area.

            I’m lucky to be in an area where we do have “religious” groups, and also some more relaxed groups, so I’ve been able to pick and choose what works for my kiddo and our family.

            Good luck, Mama! Homeschooling can be tough, but it’s also very rewarding, when it’s the right choice for your family. <3

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  6. Amy says

    Thank you. Thank you.
    As someone that also works from home, I have to check in to make sure it hasn’t hit the fan every once in a while and I resent the hairy eyeballs I get. When my kids are engaged and having fun, it’s nice to take the opportunity to check in with the adult world (in a non-porn way :)
    What a perfectly stated post.

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    • Beth says

      GASP! You do that too?!?!?! We have a fenced yard with locked gates and my kids play out back while I clean the kitchen or fold laundry on the kitchen table or my fave, soak up the sun while reading a book! Kids need to be able to entertain themselves. My kids are happy, healthy, well adjusted kids with outstanding imaginations. They know how to go outside and just PLAY! They don’t need scrips or a dozen toys they run around, use sticks as horses, chase each other *btw they are 11 and 2 2 year old twins. Being a mom is hard enough without judging each others.

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  7. Tricia says

    That awful post has taken over my Facebook feed and it makes me want to scream. I was e-mailing my son’s freaking therapist and got reamed out by a mother for not watching my daughter do a cartwheel. Lady, I’ve seen hundreds of them and I’ll see hundreds more. Shut your pie hole.

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