I am sitting on the floor of my bedroom and my kids are two feet above me on my bed. They’re watching the iPad. That dude from that show about modern-day Superman (Tom someone? Smallville?) is defining the word “experiment.” They are riveted, even though they’ve seen that snippet a dozen times.
Down here on the floor, I am feeling enormous shame. It’s not “mommy guilt”– that sounds almost cute compared to what I am feeling. I’m in a vortex of Mommy Failure or “Who the hell let you have kids”? I loathe seeing my kids zoned out with the iPad. In our new house, I insisted the TV go into the basement where we never hang out because I do not want to “use” it. I’ve got that pesky addictive personality– if I can use something, I will, and now that I’m a parent, I can’t stand the shame that follows.
We’re all exhausted. Jeff’s out of town; Sadie has been super sick, and I’ve been sorta sick. We’re marinating in some murky mix of malaise, cabin fever, illness, and weird bursts of energy that hit each of us at different times. It’s not hellish, but I need a break. I’ve been parenting since 6:30 AM without any adult supervision, and Sweet Willie Nelson On Tour, I need a 40 minute break. You know, less than an hour, but more than 30 minutes.
No, it’s not going to kill them to have screen time, and I don’t judge other people who use TV/screen time more liberally. Who the hell has time to judge you? I am too busy judging YOURS TRULY. If anything I am jealous that other people have a healthy relationship to technology; I just use it as a weapon to beat myself up with.
Why can’t I just be fucking normal? Why can’t I just give myself a little break today so I can write for a few minutes and clear my head? Sadie and I have been stuck to each other since before the sun came up. We’ve picked out pumpkins and eaten two meals and three snacks together. We picked Simon up from school and commenced to do a pumpkin-based art project consisting mainly of painting our pumpkins with watercolors. (NOTE: Pumpkins and watercolors don’t mix.) We had a quiet time and worked an alphabet puzzle. I knew I was about to lose my marbles so I bundled everyone up for a walk. We got 10 paces before Sadie was crying it was too cold.
I surrendered. I came home. I whipped out the iPad and despite all the energy I brought to my relationships with my kids today, I guarantee you I will get into bed tonight beating myself up for that forty minutes. Jeff never uses the iPad. Why can’t I be more creative? Why am I so lazy? What if I start using the iPad more and more and then stop parenting altogether? And there will be another voice. She’s just as annoying. Why are you so uptight? It wasn’t porn, it was Sesame Street. Stop aiming for some Pinterest/nonexistent perfection and work on balance, you super freak.
You know what the worst part of all of this is? It’s not the damn iPad or feeling sick or not getting to go on a walk today. Nope. It’s the fact that I’ve made 40 minutes of iPad time a capital crime and have now spent my free time writing about how awful I am for giving it to myself. It’s the out-of-whackness in my head about what that means about me or my kids’ childhoods or my work ethic.
It’s messed up. It’s really messed up.
I’d love to end with a fun pun or joke about this but I can’t think of one. That’s how messed up this is.