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March 22, 2013

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I just can't gather up the gumption to feel guilty about the amount of time or quality of every minute that I spend with my daughter. I'm attentive when she has needs, she is well cared for, and played with every day by both me and my husband. But I expect her, even at 8 months, to be able to play by herself for a little bit while I do things. How else would I get stuff done? I can't put everything on hold just because I have a baby--and I don't think I should feel obligated to, either. She is important, but her importance does not universally eclipse all of the other important things in my life. I don't feel the need to split hairs about whether or not this minute would be ABSOLUTELY BEST SPENT with her or in front of a screen or doing dishes, or, or, or. That just sounds like a headache to me.

I like your analysis of the issue, Jamie; I agree that it's just so draining when they are their most dependent. I took the piece as just another scold along the lines of, enjoy every moment. Humans aren't meant to live like that. Also, what father has ever been told that old chestnut? It's just so tiresome to be treated as an automaton who spends every moment on children. It makes me think they've drunk the "Rainbow Fish" and "The Giving Tree" Kool-Aid about giving until it hurts. No other generation carried on like that, and life magically went on.

It's a good exhortation but it gets a bit old after a while. I mean, the parent the post writer was talking to actually took her kids to the park. That's more than some people. Perspective.

I wonder too what my kids will remember. We're together a lot and I am present and engaged but sometimes I spend too much time on the internet looking for other connections. I picked up my daughters scribble journal the other day and it read: Today I: cleaned up the sunroom, played outside, and watered the plants. Mom: Laptop, laptop, laptop. Mom's life is laptop.

Ouch.

It would have hurt more if I hadn't known that I had also already: made breakfast for everyone, did two reading lessons, started the laundry, and fed my dad (he has alzheimer's/dementia).

I hope they have good memories. You really just never know what's going on in their amazing little minds.

My kids tell me right now that they will only remember the dirty house, the time I spend on the computer, and my complete failure to dungeon-master a D&D game while trying to finish an (overdue, probably going to delay my graduation) master's paper. I spend a lot of time praying that they're wrong.

I found that iPhone post hectoring and condescending. Most of the "be in the moment, it goes so quickly" posts I've read over the years were written by people who seemed to know that they needed the advice themselves. This one seemed to be written by someone who just knew how to do it better.

But honestly, it mostly just made me feel nostalgic. It was actually pretty easy to be present for little kids: whatever I offered, they wanted. Plus I know that we made it through and I did the best I could. Twelve-year olds? They want to push me away as much as they want to draw me close, and being on that pivot is an emotionally wrenching thing.

Yeah despite the disclaimer at the end that it applies to herself as much as to anyone, the letter to the iPhone mom comes across as judgy. It's not the seize the day sentiment so much as the pointing the finger at someone else to make her point. I'd tell the author: rewrite it so that it's about *you* and not about that other mom you saw at the playground the other day. You don't know her or what she's got going on. Motherhood is hard enough without feeling like someone else is judging you for checking your phone at the playground. Motherhood is a balancing act and sure we can all spend too much time staring at a screen and not at our kids, but... you don't know the circumstances and there are exceptions to every good rule. Be the tax collector not the Pharisee, tell me about how broken you are and I'll feel sympathy and maybe even agree that hey, I'm broken in the same way. But don't point fingers at someone else's brokenness in that way, it's rude.


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