I’m going to just own the fact that I wish I were that mother who used cloth diapers, fed my kid only organic homemade meals, and limited their television consumption to one hour per week. Alas I’m not even laughably close to being that mom. I’m the mom who struggles to remember to pick her kids up from football practice, am always, always late to everything all the time, have children who prefer school lunch to the nasty assortment of dry PB&J sandwiches and Lunchables I used to send them to school with, and consider it a win when I don’t burn their dinner (they do too).
So when I saw a post going around Facebook called “Wait until Eighth” I was intrigued. Is this what good mothers are into these days, I wondered? It was being reposted and advocated by women I put in the “good mom” category which meant it had to be legit. Thankfully it was a short sweet and simple proposition: sign a pledge that you wouldn’t give your child a smartphone. Share the pledge with others in your children’s grade and school. When at least ten families in that group have signed up all are notified that the pledge is now in effect. Pretty ingenious if you ask me. But I knew I’d never sign it. In fact, since I am currently in the race for worst mom on the planet I not only didn’t sign it but I used it to scare my twelve-year-old into believing I was going to sign it if he bugged me one more time to upgrade his iPhone. Yes, that happened—and, by the way, it totally worked.
Do I wish I were the kind of mom who would actually sign the pledge and not as a way to blackmail her child? Yes. Yes I wish I were. But I need that smartphone as much as my ten and twelve-year-olds think they need it to watch YouTube and Snapchat with their tween friends. So I’m not going to hide in the mom shame cave. I am going to support my moms who can sign the pledge but also support those of us that just can’t by giving us two really good reasons why we have to punt on this one:
1. I work full time. And by full time I means I travel about 10-15% of the time, regularly work at least a 50 hour week, meet clients and attend networking events after hours, and sit on one (possibly two, fingers crossed) boards. I love what I do. Let me qualify that for you. If I hit the Powerball tomorrow I wouldn’t quit working. To be fair I might cut back, but what I do for work interest me and makes me feel like I’m being useful to others. I like that feeling. I don’t want to give it up. And while I have flexibility in my schedule there are times that my sons come home from school and are here alone for an hour or two (with my 140 pound Anatolian Shepherd and security system). I like to be able to verify that they are home, right where they should be. The iPhone lets me do that. I am sure I could set up a video monitoring system at home to perform the same function but why complicate and already complicated life? I’ll stick to staking them through their phones.
2. I like that my children can occupy themselves when I interact with other adults outside of our home. In a perfect world my sons would not find conversations with adults in general and me in particular boring. But since I’m not living in a perfect world I settle for shaking hands, looking people in the eyes, not running wild in public or as a guest in someone’s home, answering questions when asked, and occasionally carrying on a conversation with adults as a win. And because I work so much when I do have time away from the office I like to spend as much of it as possible with my children. So if I meet my parents or friends for dinner I don’t want to leave my children with a sitter. But bringing them along means I have to throw them a lifeline and let them entertain themselves on their phones. Now I could have them use other electronics besides a phone to entertain themselves. But it is hard enough for them to keep track of one piece of electronic equipment. If they had a phone that only texted and called and an iPad for entertainment I’d spend the better part of my free time trying to track down those devices. In my world simple is best.
I’m not proud of slacking. But in the ever elusive quest for balance this this is just the battle I’m choosing not to fight. And now if you are as flawed when it comes to smartphones and your kids as I am, you’re your head a little higher knowing you aren’t alone!