Isn’t it annoying how a stranger can see a snapshot of your life, a few minutes in a park where you have looked away from your playing children to your iPhone, and write a letter to the whole of the Internet about how you are missing out on your kids’ childhoods?
Don’t you realize that when you had children, you lost yourself entirely? Every thought, breath, and movement must be directly related to them, or else you will turn out warped individuals who will one day sit in group therapy for adult survivors of abuse to bemoan that tragic day in preschool when their mother* did not watch their fiftieth Spin-Jump off the third step up on the playground equipment. Did I write sit in group therapy? I meant slouch, because you did not instill enough self-esteem for them to grow a healthy spine that allows them to sit upright.
My mom missed my fiftieth Spin-Jump off the third step up when I was four.
Heads will shake sadly all around the circle at your unshaven son, who does not even have the confidence to wear a clean shirt and zip up his fly all the way. And your daughter! What a mess she is. Since you didn’t admire her every exhalation, she became a Kardashian. Great job, Mom.
Long ago when my brother and I were demanding that our mother admire our fiftieth Spin-Jumps, she demanded that we leave her alone. iPhones did not exist back then, but if they had, she would have been on one. Instead she went back to her sleazy novel, or talking to someone else, or yelling at our father, or engaged in her own thoughts.
And I learned a shocking lesson: I was not the center of the universe. My mother was a separate person with her own thoughts and feelings and interests. And while I might be very interested in my fiftieth Spin-Jump, other people were not. So I went off to entertain myself.
This was not abuse or neglect.
What do we expect from our mothers? I was fed and clean and supervised. She had admired my first and second, tenth and twentieth and forty-ninth Spin-Jumps, and my brother’s** first and second, tenth and twentieth and forty-ninth Spin-Jumps, and now she was claiming her own space. She’d been admiring us in various preschool pursuits all day before we hit the playground. And now she wanted some time to stop admiring us and do Adult Things.
I turned out fine.
Life is not about being admired with dewy eyes for every single thing you do, not by your boss or teachers or friends, not even by your mother. And she didn’t stop existing as herself the second she became pregnant. Sometimes instead of watching the fruit of her loins doing infinite Spin-Jumps at the park, she wants to look at her iPhone. Check Facebook. Play a game. Read a sleazy novel. Her children will survive the insult of having their fiftieth Spin-Jump unremarked upon.
I daresay they might grow from it.
A Stranger Who Saw You Looking At Your iPhone At The Park While Your Children Played And Wrote A Letter To The Internet About It***
* This letter would never have been addressed to a father, would it?
** She admired his only out of politeness since they were never as good as mine.
*** Which helped me to procrastinate on my actual writing. So thank you. For those of you waiting impatiently for Runemaster or the godforsaken Earth/Sky, I apologize, and will return to the final edits/writing respectively in short order. ****
**** Do some parents spend outrageous amounts of time on their iPhones, to the neglect of everyone else around them? No doubt. Some people overdo everything. But I can’t tell that about a mother or father from observing them one afternoon at a park.*****
***** And by the way, Mom, my fiftieth Spin-Jump that you missed? I added a clap to it!