Sitting in the almost empty park contemplating parenthood. Writing this on my phone and wondering why I haven't got a notebook my bag. Pondering what we think when we see a parent on their phone instead of engaging with their children…
I used to judge. I used to think you couldn't be a decent parent if you sat on your phone whilst your kids were at the park. I assumed that these parents were doing something 'not useful' with their time - how could they do that when they should be focusing on their children? So dangerous to assume - I didn't know, didn't understand.
What was their story??
We home educate, and I am the primary parent in that role. I have my kids with me all day, (almost) every day, and once upon a time, not so long ago, they did need me to be present with them almost all the time. But they have grown. Their independence has flourished. They can, and want to, play alone for long stretches at a time sometimes.
I am willing to turn my attention to them when they ask it of me. I am willing to feel and release the frustration of a half-written blog post, probably never then to see the light of day.
And I am willing to take these moments for myself. To take time to do something I want to do. To allow these moments, and to enjoy them. I don't have to feel guilty that I don't want to watch and engage with my children every minute of every day. And when I do go back to watching and engaging, I go back refreshed. I go back knowing that I've chosen some time for me, and now I can happily choose some time for them.
I still wonder what the other parents might think of me - and would they think the same if I were writing in a notebook? And if I were taking this time to play a game, check my emails or browse through Facebook? Because I do those things too sometimes. If I chose something other than writing, something less 'productive' to do in my time? Would it matter?
Or if we're on our phone because we've had a tough day and want to escape, because we're checking in to find out how a precious family member is doing in hospital, because we need to reach out to others out there in this virtual world to not feel so alone… What then?
We can't know.
My story isn't theirs; their story isn't mine, and I can't judge people on a snapshot - or indeed on anything. I can only hold that they are doing their best. And that maybe they need - maybe they deserve - a break. A break, to do something of their choosing - because right now in this moment, they can. And that they can then go back to their children when they ARE needed - more refreshed, more tolerant, and more present. Which is a win for everyone.