When I first started having kids, I wanted to be perfect. I wanted my little angels to be well-dressed and well-behaved. I wanted my house to be clean. I wanted them to eat healthy. I wanted to be present in their lives. I wanted everything that every first-time mom wants. Somewhere around my third child, I realized there's no such thing as perfect.
I'm a slow learner.
But coming to this realization hasn't stopped me from judging other moms. I think it's just a coping mechanism I use to feel better about myself. I judge. There, I said it. I see you. I judge you. I always assumed everyone did this. Isn't that why it's always so important to make a good first impression?
When I am driving down the street and see a mom on the verge of losing her sanity, I think, relax, mamasita. Take a chill pill. Why you gotta get all cray cray like that?
But 10 minutes later, when I pull in my driveway, I'm the lunatic yelling and being judged by the mom driving by me. It's just how the world works. Judge or be judged. It's called being human. It's called being a mom.
When I see supermom over there with her perfectly-coiffed hair, with all of her kids in matching outfits, I judge. I get it, girl, you're amazing. I'm so freaking happy for you.
When I see the mom who hasn't showered in three days, yelling at her kids, I judge. C'mon girl, get that sh@% together.
When I see the mom who lets her kids eat cookies for breakfast, I judge. Wake up girl, give that kid a piece of fruit.
When I see the mom who only lets her kids eat organic treats, I judge. Calm down, girl, a little junk food isn't going to kill them.
Everyone's been judging lately about THE MOM at THE PARK on THE PHONE.
I have to admit, when I see a mom at the park on her phone, I judge away. I think, geez, you can't put that thing down for 30 seconds to play with your kids? Those poor children. So neglected. But then I lose my train of thought because my phone beeps and I have to answer a text.
But my texts are super important. Normally, it's someone alerting me that a celebrity has died and wants to know if I had them in my Celebrity Death Pool. Sorry, honey, that skinned knee is going to have to wait. Mama got some points.
Mostly everything I do on my phone is totally irrelevant. I can take notes/write blogs from my phone, but I hardly ever do. I do, however, do a lot of sh#%-talking from my phone and I text endless nonsense to friends who are at other parks ignoring their kids. It's just what I do. It's who I am. It's how I survive.
Sometimes, I consciously leave my phone at home so I can be present in the lives of my family. But most of the time, I don't. I usually bring it so I can be present in the lives of my Facebook family.
Nothing is worse than coming home to 10 missed text messages. I can't even reply to many of them because the moment has passed and my reply would be irrelevant. And I have strict rules about irrelevant replies.
I judge people on how they reply to a group text.
Sometimes, the other person I'm texting is actually at the park with me. My bestie Shelly could be over by the swings, but I'm way over by the slides. What am I supposed to do? Walk over there? Hell no. I text her. If it's really urgent, I call her.
Does Shelly judge?
Is there always someone judging me? Probably. But I'm too knee-deep in Facebook statuses to even notice. When there is a lull in my phone time, I look around to see what else is going on. Sometimes, I see a mom playing with her kids. Then I feel this unfamiliar pang of guilt. Then I judge.
Wow, she's a good mom. She probably never yells at her kids. They probably really love her.
So then I put that phone on vibrate (just in case) and go look for my kids. I'm going to play with them. We're going to laugh and frolic and swing. We're going to create some happy freaking memories. Then they'll know how much I love them. And most importantly, people will judge me for being a great mom.
The only problem is, my kids left 10 minutes ago. But I didn't notice. Because I was on my phone.
Eileen O'Connor is an amazingly talented woman, wife, and mother living on the mean streets of Chicago's south side with her equally adorable family.
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