dear mom on the iphone (another perspective).

Dear Mom On The iPhone:

I’m not sure when you heard this last, so let me just say it now: you’re a good mom. Motherhood is hard, and you’re doing the best you can, just like the rest of us.

That sunny day, after sweeping Cheerios off the floor, changing diapers, and scrubbing crayon marks off your daughter’s favorite doll, you mustered up enough energy to take your kids to the park. It would have been easy to plop them in front of the television with snacks, but you knew that sunshine and a playground would do them good.

I’m not sure what you were doing on your iPhone over there. Maybe you were catching up on e-mails, or confirming a dentist appointment. Maybe you were RSVPing to a birthday party, or looking up recipes on Pinterest to accommodate your daughter’s peanut allergy. Maybe you were googling your dad’s recent health diagnosis, or glancing at your friend’s baby registry on

Maybe you were texting your friend whose mom is battling breast cancer, or your friend who just suffered a miscarriage, or your other friend who just went back to work for the first time since having a baby. Maybe you were offering words of encouragement to someone who needed it that day.

Maybe you were checking movie times and securing your babysitter for Friday night so that you and your husband could go out on a real date, something you haven’t done in two months.

Maybe you were working, responding to important e-mails to ensure you met your deadline. Maybe you were responding to inquiries about your photography, or your writing, or your Etsy shop.

Maybe you were checking Facebook or Twitter, and for the first time that day, enjoying a few moments of adult interaction, using your brain and engaging in conversations that didn’t involve Star Wars or Dora the Explorer. Maybe you were taking a break—a short timeout to feel heard and validated from online friends.

I’m not sure what you were doing on your iPhone over there, because really, it’s none of my business.

I’m sure that looking at your iPhone in the middle of the park was not your finest parenting moment, just like I’m sure you’ve had many fine parenting moments that I’m unaware of. Like the time you stayed up all night when your son was colicky, holding him tightly in the rocking chair, singing to him with tears streaming down your face because you were so tired it physically hurt. Or the time when you missed your best friend’s 30th birthday party because your daughter was sick and you couldn’t bear the thought of leaving her with a babysitter when she didn’t feel well. Or the time when you consoled your son after he was bullied at the playground and reminded him that no matter what that other kid said, he is a child of God and he is loved. Or like the day when you tearfully handed in your resignation letter to the job that you loved, so that you could stay home with your kids full time and pick up their cheerios, change their diapers, and scrub crayon marks off their dolls.

I know you are more than a mom on your iPhone. You are more than a single moment at the park. You are working hard, fighting hard, to survive this calling of motherhood. I’m sorry that not everyone sees you this way, and that some are snickering from across the park, judging you up and down without so much as even knowing your first name.

Your children adore you. You are giving them as much as you can, as often as you can, as best you can.

You’re a good mom.

From one momma to another, I can only offer you the thing that has been given in abundance to me, day after day when I least deserve it, and that is grace.


To the mom who wrote Dear Mom On The iPhone:

I know you had good intentions with that post, just as I have good intentions with this one. I hope that the next time you catch yourself on your phone at the park, or catch yourself yelling at your kids in the middle of the grocery store, or catch yourself in any scenario when you become unglued and your actions are less than perfect, I hope there is a mom standing nearby to offer you a knowing glance, an “I’ve been there” nod, and a half-smile as she generously extends grace towards you.

You’re a good mom, too.

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76 Responses to dear mom on the iphone (another perspective).

  1. I’m not a mom, but I adore this. I hope to have mom-friends like you when I have kids someday. You could teach these other mommybloggers a thing or two!
    Allison @ With Faith & Grace´s last blog post ..Finding a Husband Is Like Buying a House

  2. Claire says:

    Yup. I love you.

  3. Devon says:

    Perfect. Just perfect.

  4. Jill says:

    LOVE this 🙂 thanks for sharing
    Jill´s last blog post ..McKenna’s Nursery

  5. Jen says:

    Thank you for this. A friend of mine posted a link to the original article on facebook this morning, and I felt a similar response.. who are we to judge? But, by the same token, how hard is it to extend grace? Hardest thing ever 🙂

    This was a beautiful reminder of something to aspire to, and a great example of a simple way to love each other.
    Jen´s last blog post ..Dating My Husband | Wicked

  6. Janna Haynes says:

    This could just as easily be entitled “Dear Wife on the iPhone”

    I am guilty of coming home after a long exhausting day at work, throwing together an excuse for dinner and feeding my husband who is home from a long exhausting day at work as well, and then spending the rest of the evening slumped on the couch scrolling through pages of nothingness.

    Instead of snuggling with my husband and our dog. Instead of doing something productive so that it is one less thing to take up my time over the weekend when we DO have time to spend together. Instead of simply sitting by my husband silently while we watch TV, just being together. Instead of….everything else that is more important than spending the evening on my iPhone, ignoring the life around me.

    • Lauren says:

      Oh my goodness! I completely agree with you on that one. My husband and I call it our “apple rule” to have no phones or ipods or laptops around when we should be spending quality time together at the end of the day. Ironically, as much as I claim I need more of this said quality time, I am usually the person most guilty of breaking this rule. *eek* great reminder Ash and good twist in perspective Janna!

    • Ashlee says:

      I’ve been the wife on the iPhone, the mom on the iPhone, the friend on the iPhone. No excuses, it’s the truth.

      But….I’ve ALSO been the wife who packs her husband a lunch in the morning, the mom who tickles her baby on the floor and blows kisses on his tummy, the friend who brings you chocolate when you’re having a horrible afternoon.

      I have good days and bad days, present days and numb days. You probably do too.

      Let’s use our awareness to create a change where change is necessary, and stop beating ourselves up over it. Self-loathing won’t get us very far, but a little grace goes a long ways, both for ourselves and towards others!

      • Jennifer says:

        Do you really think the original author was trying to cause “self loathing” or to judge?
        I’m intrigued.

        I came across this post (the original one) just today. My daughter is grown now, but I immediately found myself thinking of other young people (children and young adults) with whom I interact, as well as my own loved ones, and even my grown daughter. To me, it was a gentle reminder, not a “guilt trip” or a call to start self-bashing. I saw it as a very loving message.

        Your response was also obviously from a place of “love”. Others responses were not so… shall we say… kind.

        I find myself both fascinated and saddened by the fact that people are so quick to feel “judged” rather than to take in the perspective and use it as a reminder to perhaps make some changes (if necessary) and to be more “aware”.

        • Jennifer says:

          Just read your response to Sarah on March 5th, which helps me to understand your perspective a little bit more. Perhaps I was “immune” to perceiving it that way because I am somewhat “removed” from the situation due to the fact that my daughter is now grown…

  7. Kelly says:

    Not a mom myself, but I love this. I’ve seen a lot of moms over the years and I always try to offer 100% forgiveness (within reason obviously) for the “off” moments. I don’t even really consider being on your iphone to be an off moment haha. Let’s cut everyone some slack! 🙂 Kids need to know that nobody is perfect all the time.
    Kelly´s last blog post ..It’s Time For March

  8. Heidi says:

    Great response!
    Heidi´s last blog post ..365 wk9

  9. Ana says:

    Loved every bit of this post. Women tend to be judgmental sometimes – probably because it’s easier to point out other’s mistakes than to look at your own!

    Good perspective, Ashlee!

  10. Sarah says:

    I don’t think the author of the original post was being judgmental though. I don’t think she was even talking about a specific mother. She even said that she is guilty of the same thing herself. I think it was meant more as a general statement on our attachment to technology, like “wow look at all the moments with our children that we are missing because of our dependence on technology. Let’s get our heads out of our phones” and not so much “hey bad mom, get off your dang phone.” That being said, I think the point of your post is spot-on: Let’s all give ourselves and each other some grace – we’re all doing the best we can.

    • Sharon says:

      I agree, I think these are both great posts. Like the original author said, this was a big picture kind of blog post about media. She says very specifically to those commenting, that there are always a million reasons why we COULD be on our phone, but that wasn’t the point. Great job to both you and her.

    • Ashlee says:

      Hi, Sarah. Thanks for your thoughts!

      I think the thing that bothered me about the original post was the way in which it was written: to a hypothetical mom checking her phone for five minutes at the park while her kids play. That hypothetical situation, in my opinion, did not warrant a lashing and a lecture, let alone, from ANOTHER hypothetical mom at the park (who would be, no doubt, ignoring her own children while snickering/judging). If the author had written a post of self-reflection, admitting her own struggles with media addiction, I would have said bravo! If she had written a post about how people in general are addicted to their phones/internet, I would have loved to read it. But the scenario she laid out, one mom judging another mom for being on her phone for five minutes at the park….it comes across as self righteous and hypocritical to me. I do think that the majority of us, as a people, as moms and dads and wives and husbands, as teenagers and grandparents, spend too much time online. So maybe we can focus on THAT aspect of it, and leave the mom-against-mom attack out of the equation, which only makes the “mommy wars” worse. If there’s one thing we as mothers need a little less of….it’s guilt.

      • Kaelyn says:

        I absolutely love your view in this post Ashley. Having a 7 month old little babe myself, I notice days where I might be checking my phone a little too often as well. The important thing is, I try to be in the present moment with my son as often as possible.. Enjoying each smile, each cuddle, each tiny breath. With that said, being a stay at home mom can sometimes be difficult in losing that “adult” connection with the outside world. If me glancing at Twitter or Instagram occasionally throughout the day for an artificial bit of sanity to regroup, refresh and resume back to being as good of a momma to Brody then so be it. Every wife and mother is allowed a tiny vice. After all, how much are we sacrificing every day to be amazing at those jobs? We deserve that little chunk of time to waste it however we please to, without judgement or shame. 🙂

      • Jennie T. says:

        Yes, this. I’m sure it wasn’t her intent to come across as judgmental and self-righteous. Regardless, that is how it sounded. One hypothetical mother judging another in a park does nothing for the conversation except make people defensive.

        Am I a perfect mother? No. But I’d hate to be judged by five minutes of my life by a total stranger. It is not our place to judge others. There are so many wise words on that. We should extend graciousness and kindness and compassion. The original blog post was an accusation.

        I do like my internet time. Some of it is spent researching learning disabilities, homeschooling, recipes, all in the name of my family.

        Let’s just stop the judging. Self-reflection is good. Accusations, shame and guilt are not productive.

      • Joanne says:

        Absolutely agreed!! I try to extend grace and a helping hand when I can. Knowing that there were a LOT of times I’d have loved even a little less judgey…didn’t care if the offered grace or help when I had my three wee babes!

      • Mom of 2 that got rid of her iPhone says:

        I got a lot out of both articles, but in defense of the first one, I don’t think she was addressing the mom who is on her phone “for five minutes”. I have kept kids from eating hand sanitizer, have carried bleeding kids to their moms, have stopped kids from getting severely injured – not my kids, kids whose moms aren’t paying attention. I have heard a young daughter in a ballet waiting room tell her mom “when I was in that class, you were always on the phone… I would try to get your attention and you wouldn’t look up. Now you’re doing the same thing to Chloe (younger sister in the class)” It is an epidemic and it’s a problem. My own kids used to ask me to get off the phone, even at 2 my oldest said “bye bye hello?” meaning “put away the phone mom”. I am guilty of it too! None of these distracted moms (including myself) are bad moms – they are great women who love their kids! But they ARE distracted, and their kids are noticing. My 7 year old tells me that he is glad I don’t have my iphone anymore and I’m never on it. Even now as I am typing this, my daughter is calling for me from the front porch to see a live snail – she is excited, and I’m saying “in a minute, I’m busy”. But is responding to a random blog post more important that my 4 year old’s excitement and curiosity? It shouldn’t be, yet here I am. Oy.

        • Driven nuts by the constant surfing says:

          On your phone for five minutes an hour? That’s called finding a way to save your sanity. On your phone nonstop from morning til night? That’s called neglect. I’ve seen it over and over. Who am I to judge? When I have just stopped your child from eating cat food, made them a sandwich (because you can’t put your phone down long enough to fix them breakfast OR lunch and just keep a stream of cheerios and cheez it crackers dumped on the coffee table to keep the kids from asking you to STOP long enough to feed them), removed them from standing on a rolling chair and changed their soggy diaper that was running pee down their legs, I am somebody to judge.

          Too many parents think being in the room is being a parent. You’re not in high school any more. Put that thing down and take care of your kids. Nobody begrudges you a little recreation. I begrudge you using the “you have no right to judge me” card to be a neglectful parent, and expecting me to either watch your kids going hungry with running noses and wet diapers or do your job for you.

          Put that thing down.

    • SRS says:

      Really? Come on, she was absolutely being judgmental.

    • Mallory says:

      Me either, Sarah. I think she was writing it to herself and as an encouragement. She is encouraging us not to miss the beauty of the fleeting moments of our children’s lives. I actually felt a little more anxious reading this article.

  11. Thanks for the great reminder to always be present with kids. yes I totally understand why the mom is on the phone but who am I to judge her parenting skills.
    Julie@my5monkeys´s last blog post ..Blog Confession-Giveaways

  12. Amanda says:

    nice, I love a polite girl fight. kidding-but really, I enjoyed reading BOTH posts and even the lovely comments above. I’m very proud of each and every one of you ladies (and maybe gents) for keep your responses thought provoking and still kind. 🙂
    Amanda´s last blog post ..A new

  13. Wow. Just wow. Good for you for writing this!
    Megan C. Stroup´s last blog post ..International Badge Day 2013

  14. kate says:

    yes. good for you. <3

  15. Julie says:

    Love it! Thank you for writing it. Yes us Moms are on our phones a lot…and for all types of reasons. I don’t think it has to be a bad thing. I just think back to the days when Moms at homes had to do everything by hand. Washing the clothes,the dishes, making things and everything they had to do. Moms have always been busy. These days it might look a little different as a lot of us work from home.
    Julie´s last blog post ..A Day at Disneyland

    • Ashlee says:

      Totally agree. As my friend Becca recently stated on her blog , “do you think ma ingalls worried about delighting in mary, laura, and baby carrie’s every twirl and spin? no! she was churning butter and stuffing her own straw mattresses. the girls were playing with corncobs wrapped in flannel and happy to be doing it. and she was a good mom! we need to relieve ourselves of the pressure that every moment of our children’s lives must be perfectly choreographed and attended to. do you know what happens to kids whose every move is paid attention to and greeted with delight? they turn out to be insufferable adults. let’s not do that to our kids.” –

      • Jennifer says:

        TOTALLY agree with you here!

        • Driven nuts by the constant surfing says:

          Agreed, watching their every move makes little attention junkies who believe that they are the only thing that matters.

          Ma Ingalls was busy with her washing and churning and baking, but by golly, she HEARD when her kids asked for a meal or got too close to the fireplace. She didn’t just keep churning as if nothing had happened while the hours passed and the kids suffered. Whether it’s a phone or knitting or a churn paddle, when the parent focuses on their private activity to the exclusion of everything else, it’s time to put it down.

  16. Sili says:

    I love this. I find myself trying to explain to people that I’m self-employed and that even though I might be on Twitter or Facebook, social media management actually pays my bills. It’s hard to continually try to give excuses to my behavior especially when I’m doing so much for my girl.

    Great post. Thank you for writing it.
    Sili´s last blog post ..My Brush With RSV

  17. Alena says:

    As a WAHM, who is raising two kids alone…I feel the eyes on me when I reply to emails when I’m out with my kids. Or I have to take calls while at the grocery store or park. I sometimes want to ask if they think this is what I WANT to be doing or if they realize it’s what I have to do. We live in a different society than was around 20 years ago. Work isn’t just done in an office. And we have to put down the pitch forks and give the benefit of the doubt that the mom or dad is making the best choice they can. Even when they’re looking at their iPhone at the park.
    Alena´s last blog post ..Hoping to transform my body with Shaklee 180

  18. Melissa says:

    Thank you for this.
    Melissa´s last blog post ..Time to start caring about what I look like again

  19. If it wasn’t for the iPhone in the park (though for us the park is the speech and occupational therapy lobbies) each day, I wouldn’t be able to with my kiddos, taking them to the park, taking them to therapy. As Alena stated, work isn’t just done in an office, and for so many that mobile technology allows us to be with our kids at the park, be at those therapies, be at the dance practices. Like Sili said, it’s paying the bills. There are days I would love to throw my phone away and never look at it, but it’s exactly the reason I can be with my kiddos each and every day, no not every moment am I able to give the 100% I want to, but I can give so much more than I would if I was away from them working somewhere else. I truly think we all do the best we can, and I wish more women would be willing to extend grace and know that there is always more to the story.
    Christi @ Love From The Oven´s last blog post ..Buttery Bundt Cake For St. Patrick’s Day

  20. Bre says:

    I’m so glad I read your post before I saw the original! Sharing with all my parent friends!
    Bre´s last blog post ..Wordless Wednesday 03.06.13

  21. Elly says:

    My kids don’t want or need every last second of my attention. They’re at the park, they’re not stuck inside our house…who cares if I am checking Facebook for the 1st or the 500th time that day. If it was before iPhones, many moms brought books to the park and read, some parents still do that. Or they’re talking to other moms or nannys or dads at the park. The iPhone Mom post was very judgey, it was essentially saying “because all these other things I don’t know might be true, fine, I won’t judge you for something I REEEAAALLLLY want to judge you for.” It boils down to, it’s not anyone else’s business. (and honestly, even when I am watching 100%, I still let my kid fall off of stuff…and my older kids now have a good respect for gravity as well as an adventurous spirit.)

    I write this as my 3.5 year old is happily playing trains on the floor, by himself. We’ll go sledding later, or do some other activity where we’re both fully present, but that is not how I choose to be 24 hours a day. I want my kids to know how to play and function and relax when mommy and daddy AREN’T involved. My presence shouldn’t be a precursor for their fun. And that starts when they are young and aren’t being entertained 24 hours a day.
    Elly´s last blog post ..Signing people up for THINGS

    • Elly says:

      note: some edits I made didn’t show up (user error for sure):

      The iPhone Mom post was very judgey, it was essentially saying “because all these other things I don’t know might be true, fine, I won’t judge you for something I REEEAAALLLLY want to judge you for.”

      Should read “The original iPhone Mom post was very judgey, but this one is also somewhat, it is essentially saying “because all these other things I don’t know might be true which would excuse your iPhone use, fine, I won’t judge you for something I really want to judge you for.”

      Sorry about that … sheesh.
      Elly´s last blog post ..Signing people up for THINGS

      • Ashlee says:

        To be clear, this post was a direct response to the original. I never would have written it had that post not popped up in my facebook feed 15 times. 😉

        • Elly says:

          I know, I actually just posted my, tongue in cheek, response and referenced your blog as one of the blogs I read re: the iPhone mom letters (perhaps we can publish a series of letters and roast ourselves later?). And, I really do see what your point is, and that sometimes we need reassurance ourselves if we’re (in the place of the iPhone mom) feeling guilty for something we don’t need to feel guilty for…but could the opposite interpretation be “if it’s not one of these acceptable items” does that make it BAD? I just hear/read a lot of “but what if [insert acceptable reason for whatever]” in arguments for all sorts of things I see as personal private issues (birth control debate, abortion debate, divorce, parenting choices, spousal choices) and that don’t need to be justified to anyone other than the people directly involved.
          Elly´s last blog post ..iPhone Mom….my response

    • Kaelyn says:

      Well said Elly!

  22. Meg O. says:

    ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS. One of my friends shared this on facebook and I just love it.
    Meg O.´s last blog post ..March Makeover $100 Sephora Giveaway!

  23. Elizabeth says:

    Beautifully put. Thank you.

  24. Natalie says:

    You’re amazing. Thank you for writing this.
    Natalie´s last blog post ..minted simple syrup

  25. Melissa says:

    Oh my god, I think I love you. Thank you from all of the moms out there who might miss a few “twirls in the field” but still love the heck out of our kids. Kids will survive not having 100% parental attention, as they have for generations.

  26. Pingback: Dear mom on the iPhone (you rock)

  27. Kiki says:

    I’m not a mom, but I couldn’t agree with you more. As a future teacher, I’ll admit that it’s frustrating to see parents not paying attention to their kids. But I also can’t judge them because I don’t know what’s going on on their phone. That you for reminding me that we can never know what’s going on unless we walk in that person’s shoes. Thank you for writing this. I can tell it’s definitely from the heart and I love that your write with love and speak of Jesus’ grace, too! 🙂
    Kiki´s last blog post ..eight march faves.

  28. Samantha Jo says:

    I love this perspective. After reading the original post about the mom on the iPhone, I was feeling so guilty! But after having a long day of freelance work in the morning, mommy-ing all afternoon, working all night, and driving an hour home with a crying, exhausted baby in the back seat of my car, that 2 minutes alone just me and my phone and catching up on normal adult life was, and sometimes is, so much needed! We are all good mommies, and we do the best we can with the time we have. Thanks for the virtual hug this morning 🙂 I hope you have a wonderful day of sweeping cheerios off the floor and changing diapers! This parenting gig is the best job in the world — but even full time employees deserve their 15 minute breaks 🙂
    Samantha Jo´s last blog post ..Cookies and Cameras

  29. Rachael says:

    Thank you. This post really hit home on one of those mornings that the nasty look from another was really eating at me. Your words are beautiful, true and encouraging!
    Rachael´s last blog post ..~*field day*~

  30. Pingback: iPhone Mom….my response | Living that life

  31. Laura says:

    Finally! A mom not judging other moms! (And I know others are out there … just don’t see them writing blogs often.) Thanks for extending grace where so many others do not.

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  33. Another mamá says:

    I read both blogs and both blogs aré insightful and educational. Why aré people mad at a woman who decided to pour out her heart with a word of advice. It was a hypothetical setting and when I read it, there was no condemnation on the use of phone but just a reminder of some wonderful moments we may miss if we arent careful to take a small time out into a lot of time out. I aplaude the original author because we dont have enough older women speaking wisdom into younger and vise versa. We all try hard to be ageable and careful not to offend. Yes we do need momies to stand on our side and say Great job; but we also need moms who will lovingly say hey;here is where you could improve. I think that said in love realy builds a person instead of “you aré doing the best you can so you dont need to improve”. Lets allow wise counsel in our lives and lets allow other women to be as iron sharpens iron;just as the bible comanded us to be. We need this balance in life. Its okay to be corrected; its okay to submit;… its okay. You aré not a bad mommy for listening to sound advice

  34. Heather says:

    So perfect! Thank you for your perspective.

  35. Mallory says:

    I guess I’m just not a big fan of these back-and-forth articles in general. I think we should cut each other some slack.

  36. Kae says:

    I tutored a child once whose father never looked up from his iPhone. This child was emotionally fragile and did anything and everything to try and get his dad’s attention, but he wasn’t as important as his dad’s game. Neither was I when I tried telling the dad what great process his son had made and how well he’d done that day. The kid kept tugging on his arm, hopping for a smile. If your phone means more than your kid, don’t have any. There are to many me only moms in this world who let their poor innocent children suffer. Every day I pick up their pieces and their broken hearts. They share with me the pain, the abandonment they feel from their parents. If you don’t believe it. You’re living in a fantasy world.

    • Lindsay says:

      This is completely different than what she is saying – her point was MODERATION and I think that you should appreciate that as a counselor.

  37. Lindsay says:

    YES!!!!! Thank you~!!!!!

  38. L Potter says:

    I loooovee this response! While I think there is some truth to the original post and that we do need to sometimes put down the phone, we also don’t need to be judging or assuming what that other mom is doing. I love this perspective!

  39. What an awesome response!!! Thank you for taking the time to write.

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