An Open Letter to the Mom on Her Phone

Originally published Monday, 28 December 2015.

Dear Mom:


I see you there on your phone. You sit in the doctor’s office avoiding eye contact with the “NO CELL PHONES” sign. The receptionist might be annoyed by your rebellion but I get you. You can’t cure your child’s cold but you can control whether or not you like Amy’s latest DIY project. You aren’t trying to be rude but you are craving a few moments of peace.


You feel the eye rolls and harsh judgment aimed in your direction as you frequently check your phone in public. Yes you can go overboard and live distracted with that techie rectangle attached to your palm but I think I know why you are on your phone and it’s not what they think it is.



1. You work hard and often run yourself ragged. I think you are on your phone for some sanity and a little solace. You scroll down, connecting to the wide world, reaching out so you don’t feel alone in your struggles or unnoticed in your successes. I see you scrolling, snickering, and sniffling in the waiting rooms, while you sit on the bleachers, and as you linger in your car before your brave the grocery store.


You can’t protect your freshly mopped floor from spilled milk but you can pin that beautiful ceramic tile and keep it looking radiant on your “Kool Kitchens” Pinterest Board. You are secretly struggling with little Junior’s strong-willed assertions but online you are an expert at arm-knitting and it makes you feel accomplished and in control (even if it’s just over a spool of navy blue yarn).


When you Instagram that homemade apple pie I think it has less to do with arrogance and more to do with “Can you believe what I managed to create amidst the crazy?” #killingitinthekitchen


So many things you do are undone before anyone notices that you got them done in the first place.


The pie will get devoured in five minutes flat but if you capture it on screen you can revisit your accomplishment and still see it all in one piece for years to come. And guess what? 17 other people virtually loved it too. You may not be able to get to the bottom of darling daughter’s secrecy or middle son’s anger issues but today you made a pie and didn’t swear in the process. #sweetsuccess


2. You are aching for appreciation. Someone giving you a thumbs up on your new haircut can help you hold your head a little higher as you juggle schedules, sleep deprivation and stinky diapers. A friend pinning your latest blog post graphic can bring a smile to your face even when you are scrubbing that puke out of the van’s console. Someone else liking your latest status “Junior had a dry pull-up this morning!” can be wind in your sails after a year of potty-training disasters. And someone retweeting something witty you said can make you feel smart, even if just for a few seconds.

3. You are harder on yourself than necessary. Yes, your inbox can deliver mommy guilt and shame or it can breathe grace into your less-than-stellar days. Yes, your phone-time can get out of hand but it can also lend a helping hand as you send out an “SOS: I need a Mom’s Night Out!” or “Help! Has anyone ever dealt with a toddler swallowing a Lego before?!” Don’t ask me how I know.


Speaking of Mom’s Night Out (the movie), you need to hear this quote from it, again, “This mom thing is crazy hard but you are doing an amazing job.” Really, let it sink it. You are doing a great job. You are amazing. And even if your mother-in-law doesn’t understand why you’ve joined fourteen Cloth Diaper Facebook groups and you check them more often than you actually check Junior’s diaper, I understand.

4. You feel isolated amidst your motherhood mayhem. Through the trials and triumphs of parenting the internet can help you connect with others who are walking a similar road. Breastfeeding vs. formula wars can suck you dry but that one message from your friend across the country declaring, “You’re a great mom!” can make it all worth it.


5. You find solace from your current crazy. Sure your news feed can bog you down with more burdens or it can lighten your load with courage-words, inspiration and compliments. Sure the web can tangle you up in jealousy, insecurities, and all sorts of ugly. But, it also can be: a lifeline from drowning in domestic duties; a recharge as you try and balance work, family, and time for yourself; a place to celebrate your latest endeavor, show off your vacation photos of surviving Disney, or receive a pat on the back for finally potty-training Junior before he entered Junior High.

So as the naysayers critique your data intake, I want you to know that I am glad that you are connecting with others who can help cheer you on in this noble endeavor of being a mom. It is rewarding and terrifying and worth it as you invest in your littles and get help along the way. So the next time I see you pecking out a text, cracking up at the latest video, or wiping stray tears as you view that endearing fabric softener commercial again, know that you are not alone. 


Of course, you don’t want to neglect your child or live disconnected from reality. And you already know that the unplugged, ordinary moments you spend together are extraordinary connections that will be treasured for a lifetime. But I think you are on your phone, most of the time, for a little break, to find a “me too” out there, to receive a boost that says, “Keep going, you can do this. It’s crazy hard but you’ve got this.”


If I catch your eye in the waiting room, between keeping Junior out of the fish tank, Trivia Crack rounds and composing a profound quote for the ages, I’ll smile and nod and give you a hearty thumbs up.


Another Mom On Her Phone


This post was orginially was published over at