Has Tweeting Made Me the Worst Mom of the Year?

Tweeting momWe were in Mystic, Connecticut this weekend on a family trip.  It was actually a press trip that was arranged through multiple channels.  I haven’t had a chance to blog about it yet, but there will soon be featured articles on our trip here, on Traveling Mom, A Child Grows, CBS.com and possibly Project You Magazine.  It was a marvelous weekend, and every time I had a chance and Wifi availability, I tweeted about it.  I tweeted from the Mystic Aquarium, I tweeted from Mystic Sea Port, I tweeted from Mystic Pizza, I tweeted from all the fabulous restaurants and shops we visited.  I was in a state of bliss and marvel over the charm of Mystic and enjoyed our trip so much that I took pleasure in tweeting out information I gathered as I went along.

But aside from that, I see tweeting as part of the package.  When I agree to review a place, I don’t just blog it.  I tweet. I Facebook. It’s the whole package.  Asa  blogger, you want to get information out to as many people as you can virally.  It takes work.  It takes time, sometimes time away from the family.  I thought I had explained this all to my kids, but they’re young, and as much as blogging has become an important part of their life in the last two years as it has in mine, they don’t understand completely.  My daughter asked me to stop tweeting several times this weekend, and I obliged.  But believe me, it wasn’t enough to ruin the good time we were having.  I’m not the type of person to tweet when I’m in the company of other people, but when I am reviewing a place or event, tweeting is part of my work and I take it seriously.

Fast forward to our arrival back home.  We got home late yesterday.  I spent the evening unpacking our new pottery (picked up at Olde Mystic Village) and our belongings.  I realized my house was, once again, filled with clutter and went around trying to de-clutter.  Our microwave wasn’t working, so I had to deal with that.  And my daughter had a sleep-over.  Do you really think I spent the evening on my computer?!  Plus, it’s Labor Day and I take it seriously that it’s our last summer weekend.  So, today we spent the day at the beach.  That was always the plan.

Before we left for the beach, I did a bit of work, but my company has an amazing sale and I wanted to check in on that.  I was on the computer for a bit, but my kids were watching TV and they weren’t being ignored in the slightest.  They seemed to be enjoying themselves.

At one point, just as I was going out for a run, my 6 year old son asked me to give him lunch.  Then he asked me to sit with him to go over a birthday catalog to choose items for his birthday party (which is in two months).  I acquiesced and sat with him, made him lunch and gave him my attention.

Then I picked up my phone.  It was disabled for five minutes.  I couldn’t imagine why.

I waited five minutes and tried to get in again.  It was then disabled for 60 minutes.

Needless to say, this went on all day.  Fortunately, I went to the beach.  Took a long swim in the Long Island Sound, watched my daughter bury her friends in sand, gazed into the distance to see the sailboats go by….all for the last time this summer.  The beach closes today.

Meanwhile, my son innocently had watched my husband and I try to figure out what was wrong with my phone all day.  He was silent.  Didn’t say a word.

So, tonight, just as the sky was falling and everything was going wrong in my house, he confessed.  Here is what he said:

“Mom, you know how you were ignoring me when we were in Mystic because you were on your phone the whole time…tweeting? Well, I got tired of that and decided to change the password.  Only I don’t remember it.”

There’s so much at play here.  First of all, it’s kind of sweet and kind of horrible.  Do I win the Worst Mom of the Year award?  I’ve done a lot of things wrong in my time, made a lot of parenting mistakes.  But tweeting?  Mom bloggers get flack for not paying attention to their children when they’re writing and doing their thing, but I’ve never agreed with that stereotype.  For me, social media has parlayed into opportunities and new skills.  How am I ignoring them when I’m planting seeds for a new business and more?

But that’s not important right now, is it?  What’s important is that my son feels ignored.  So ignored that he had to take serious action and lie about it all day.

I have never pretended to be mom of the year.  I do my best.  Mothering has come natural at times, and not at other times.  I don’t use this blog as a platform to promote my angst as a mother, but believe me, there is much of it.  I want the best for my children, but I want the best for me, too.

While we were in Mystic, I needed a break.  I stepped away and went to the movies.  I know what’s good for me, what makes me a better mother.  Taking a small break did the world of good to me.  My family didn’t want me to go, but I went and I have no regrets.  I was a better mom the next day. Who can fault me for that?

How would you feel?  Has your child ever taken a criminal action against you for not paying as much attention as you should be?

 

Comments

  1. Honest to god, I think I would punish Mitch for swiping MY phone, one on which all business is conducted, and doing what your son did. Mitch would be punished. The way I would have been. Grounded for a good day. We would have a chat about what provoked it, why the answer is not to take the phone and change the password but to pull me aside and have an open conversation about how he was/is feeling. That’s idealistic to expect maybe out of an elementary aged child perhaps but I think it needs to be put forth. Even after the chat, the punishment would still exist. I am fierce about my desk, my laptop, my phone — they are not toys nor are they anything my son should ever touch. Period. The end.

    That said…I think you are a smart woman who knows her roles and what is best for her and her family. And you know your kids well enough to 1) know what they need and 2) when something is a cry for attention. I know you’ll find the right way to address it with your son.

    There are days when I feel terrible too — I know my job extends past normal hours as a start up…and a good amount entails blogging and being glued to my phone ;) I do worry that my son will just know that element. “My mom was/is glued to her Evo.” I know I need to do a bit better in this area. But I suppose it’s all a sign of times…if it isn’t us on our phones tweeting, it was our grandparents kicking kids out of rooms b/c they were to be seen and not heard. We live and learn and make better choices.

    Good luck! You are awesome and a role model one day both your kids will be VERY proud of their mom – the Culture Mom.

  2. OK, that makes me love your son. Not because he thought he was being ignored, but because he figured out how to change your password. Gotta love kids who get technology.

    But seriously, you have nothing to feel bad about. Your kids might be too young to understand how your job works yet, but they’ll be old enough in a few short years. When I’m going on an outing or trip with my kids that is technically work (as in, it was paid for by someone else, not “This is really fun so I think I’ll write about it some day”) I remind them before we go that I’ll be working – taking notes, tweeting, maybe even blogging from my phone. I remind them that we wouldn’t be going where we’re going if I weren’t working. And I remind them that there will be some points when I will definitely be ignoring them, and that they’ll live.

    Maybe with your son you could present it like this: Mommy has an opportunity to go to such-and-such for work, and has two choices: she can take the whole family but ignore you sometimes so that she can work, or she can leave you at home so that you don’t feel like she’s ignoring you on the trip. That might put it into perspective for him.

    • I like what Amy said. My 11 y.o. prepared my power power presentation for a recent talk at Bloggy Boot Camp Chicago (I paid him. The deck included many animations, FWIW.) I dictated a list of 10 Social Media Tips to him and he added one of his one (brilliantly animated) on a extra slide (in all caps) DO NOT IGNORE YOUR CHILDREN.

      A couple of years ago, when his room badly needed to be cleared and I threatened to throw out whatever was cluttering his floor, he ran to get my laptop and put it on his floor- so I would throw it out.

      That said, does he enjoy the perks of my blogging career? Oh yes! I do think it’s important to set expectations with your family, i.e., “This is an event I am supposed to blog, tweet, etc. At the same time, we should be mindful to stick with our real world, when we out out just for fun with our crew.

      Yes, our kids sometimes feel ignored, and if that makes us feel guilty, that could be a sign that change is needed. But do you remember your mother talking on the phone All The Time (with a cord, no less! She couldn’t even go more than five feet away from the base!) when you were a kid. I do!

      Some children always feel slighted if they are not getting all of your attention all of the time, but we do need to give them all of our attention *some* of the time.

  3. Well, I think if there was a club called Bad Mommys who Tweet/Blog – there would be a very large membership, my friend.

    It takes alot of time to work full-time, run the house, do the homework and stay socially connected. I hear about it all the time. Even tho’ I guest blog – I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to maintain one. Yet, I love guest blogging cuz it allows me to stretch my creative writing chops.

    Do I think our families should be more understanding? Yes. Will we always take flack for tweeting? Yes. Should we stop? Not if we don’t want to.

  4. That would’ve made me feel bad, but I don’t think that it makes you a bad mom. It’s just something to renegotiate and explain what you’re trying to accomplish with him. I know that my children notice and feel frustrated at times with my attachment to my phone, but it is my job often.

    I read somewhere and am trying the “unplug an hour/day, a day/week, a week/year” So far all I’ve done is the first one. I’m a slow starter.

  5. Hey Holly, guilt serves little purpose but I think your guy is sending you a loud and clear message. There’s a problem to be solved and the challenge is to keep working at brainstorming solutions that work for both of you (when mom and kids’ needs become an either/or we’re typically on the wrong track).
    Engage him in the problem solving. What if you recorded your tweets and submitted them when he was happily occupied with something else? What if he tweeted too, or helped you find good ideas?
    Ideal solution exists theoretically, now it’s just up to you guys to be on the same side looking for a win-win. You’ll benefit (as will your future career) from the challenge to your creativity! Hugs to all of you in this new season-

    • Francine, I get that you’re trying to find a good solution that will make her son feel involved, but I’m not sure that letting him hijack her work is the answer here. It’s OK to tell kids that they can not always be the focus. It’s a good lesson for them to learn.

  6. Wow, makes me glad I don’t have a password set on my phone! That is one smart kid. My kids actually never would’ve thought of that. I guess I would look at it like, what if he had taken the keys to your car and you couldn’t go to your day job, or took their dad’s briefcase because he wanted to spend more time with dad. It’s not ok, but I understand why he did it. In his mind that was how he was able to get out what he needed. All our kids are different and will react differently. Just because my boys don’t swipe my phone doesn’t mean they don’t want me to leave behind Twitter, my blog, or the computer altogether. Easier said than done, but try to let the guilt go.

  7. First of all, my mother would have punished me for that, and my adult self can’t disagree.

    Second of all, kids have a tendency to not understand that their parents can’t be at their beck and call 24/7. If you had a 9-5 job, you’d have to be working between the hours of 3pm and 5pm and they wouldn’t understand why you were home two hours later than them or why you were too tired to play horsey. I used to be a nanny and I’ve seen this in action. This does NOT make you a bad parent.

  8. Wow. I understand that your sons was feeling ignored, but I feel like this is a perfect teaching scenario, where you can make it clear that a) your property is your property, and he is not to touch it and b) he can’t always be the focus of attention. I know if I did something like that to either of my parents, I would be in a lot of trouble.

    I wouldn’t feel guilty about tweeting. Part of the deal was that you would review the place, and that includes writing, tweeting, what have you. I like selfish mom’s idea of putting it into perspective; compare and contrast reviewing the location with or without him. He’ll get the idea (he’s obviously a smart kid).

  9. “Francine, I get that you’re trying to find a good solution that will make her son feel involved, ” Nope, not my aim at all. Her son already IS involved … It’s not about ‘letting’ it’s about helping. Child asking for more time with/attention from mom, if mom can’t give it, how to solve the problem? Neither person has to lose or be hurt, lots of good ways to solve problems in partnership with our loved ones, guilt free. If we think outside the box of learning = pain we can stop the hurt and guilt and start enjoying ourselves more. Have fun tweeting AND helping your loved ones! Don’t be afraid of being on the same side as your kids.