When I was in middle school I had a friend whose mom was fond of saying, “Sarcasm is the lowest form of comedy.” To which I was fond of responding, “That’s just because you have never heard it done correctly.” I considered myself an artist and sarcasm was my favorite medium. My friend’s mother has been haunting me since yesterday and I am now forced to make a formal apology.
Dear America, I mishandled sarcasm in a brutal and confusing manner. I am deeply sorry for the confusion. Sincerely, Eric’s Wife
See, what had happened was that there was a blog post floating around the internet called, “Dear Mom on Your iPhone.” I won’t link to it here because I suspect the author of the blog post would like for the heat to die down and I respect that. In her post, the author wrote a lengthy and guilt heavy letter to some anonymous mother she witnessed at the park. This mother got caught in the blogger’s crosshair when she was witnessed staring at her iPhone instead of paying attention to her kids as they played. I must confess that the post made me angry and I responded in kind.
I was not angered at the notion that most smart phone owning parents could stand to practice better smart phone etiquette, but rather, I was angered at the author’s use of guilt to preach to the unaware mother. Her choice to slap us all around with guilt is nothing new to the mother sisterhood. I’ve done it and I’ve had it done to me enough to recognize its bitter taste well before it reaches my palate.
I wrote a heavily sarcastic letter parodying hers and posted it with no explanation as to the source of my screed. I am sorry if you thought it was meant to seriously attack smart phone using parents and I am especially sorry if you thought it was directed at you.
The fact is that most mothers have their bags packed and ready for a guilt trip at the drop of a hat. The lightest of touches can send us to the train station with ticket in hand. I don’t think I am being heavy handed when I say that it is cruel to attempt to use guilt to correct another’s behavior and it is especially cruel to use guilt against a mother who is likely treading water and barely keeping her nose dry.
If your kids are fed and they know they are loved by you, I’ve got nothing on you when it comes to parenting. You may make different wrong choices than I do, but that is okay and you are allowed those wrong choices. If you are like me (a growing human), I expect that you will learn from those wrong choices and adapt to better choices. In the end, I expect that we will both have raised adults who can function in society reasonably well. If I see you on your smart phone in the park, I can’t judge because right now my kids are eating cold cereal while I blog.
Here’s the funny part of my having to chew on my words for the past 24 hours: I realized that I was guilty of the very same effort that angered me in the first place. In my own way, I was trying to guilt that mommy blogger into feeling awful for how she tried to make other mothers feel guilty. Face->Palm
Here’s to a Saturday full of new mercy – new mercy given to us freely from God, which we can then offer to the parents in our midst.