Amiri, we don’t know who you are or what your story is, but we do know that a mere two days ago you shared this photo, presumably without the mother’s permission, with a pompous statement about technology and humanity, and that your post has been shared enough times that we now have to see it appear in our social feeds.
- A baby and mother (or caretaker) are at the airport
- The baby is a (terrifying!) 3 or 4 inches away from the adult in charge
- The baby is placed on a clean cloth
- The baby is too young to roll over
- The baby is calm and content (not crying, relaxed limbs)
- The mother (or caretaker) is awake
- The baby is likely about to board an aircraft where he or she will be confined to the adult’s lap or a carseat and will not have the opportunity to stretch out flat for an unknown amount of time
So, please, tell us again, what exactly is so abhorrent about this situation? Oh, right, the woman is looking at her smartphone. Ok, let’s open the door, then, to all these concepts that we, as complete strangers, do not know:
Maybe this woman is checking her flight itinerary.
Maybe she is reviewing a checklist of safety and prep tips for flying with an infant.
Maybe she is messaging whomever is meeting her on the other side to relay the fact that her flight was delayed by hours and hours, so that they could make a new plan.
Maybe she is messaging her partner about how tough it’s going to be flying with the baby alone. Maybe she needs a goofy messenger sticker and a few words of encouragement.
Maybe she just worked a 10 hour shift on the pediatric oncology floor and her body and soul are exhausted from attending to the physical and emotional needs of people living out their worst nightmares. Maybe she is taking a few minutes to decompress before she gives her body and soul completely to the infant (safely) afoot.
Maybe her mom died unexpectedly and they are flying to the funeral. Maybe she is sharing an intimate moment with her sister as they grieve together from across the country.
Maybe she’s scrolling mindlessly though Facebook just because she’s bored and it’s there and it’s easy. And you know what, Amiri? That is absolutely, without a doubt, fine.
Does being a mom mean you are obligated to spend every waking moment gazing lovingly at your child? Does it mean that 24/7/365 you need to interact with you child? Is that what mothers did before smartphones? Or maybe, just maybe, did they simply use different means of distraction? Did they have friends over? Did they read books and magazines? Did they crochet? Did they paint their nails? Did they rearrange bookshelves? Did they play with the dog? Did they sometimes just stare vaguely into space and daydream because it was preferable, in that moment, to staring at their child?
Is a mother inhuman because she uses her phone? Is a mother an idiot because she sometimes chooses a brief form of entertainment outside of her child?
Come on, Amiri, come the fuck on.
If you see a child in danger, intervene or call for help. If you see a parent genuinely struggling, reach out. See if there is anything you can do. If you simply encounter a brand of parenting that doesn’t connect with your personal perspective, sit with that knowledge. Think about it. Tell a friend in passing and talk it out. But when it comes to violating privacy and taking sneaky pictures to plaster all over the internet with your brazen, self-righteous commentary? Yeah, don’t.
Oh, and by the way, it’s pretty doubtful that Albert Einstein ever said that statement at all. But keep trying, you wannabe intellectual punk. (We’re sorry, was that last bit judgy? You see, Amiri, unfortunately that’s what happens when you put negative energy into the world. It grows).
*Update (9.28.17): We are so happy this awesome mama got the opportunity to share her story. Amiri, mom-shamers, and obligatory internet trolls who enjoyed slinging shocking (albeit at times amusing) genitally based insults at us, we sure do hope you get a chance to read the real context of this photo.