Put a Bib on It

I’m a Mother First

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I'm a mother first. Even if sometimes it doesn't look like it.“I’m a mother first.”

I heard this recently from a high-powered executive, a woman who has accomplished great things. She wanted to be clear about the fact that above all else, she is a mom. I want that to be how people see me, too. I want my son to know that regardless of whatever else was going on in our lives, he has always been my top priority.

But I’m not sure that’s how he’ll remember things.

The other day when Ev and I were sitting at the kitchen table finishing up a snack, I asked him if he wanted to play in his room with me. His response was startling.

“Yes, but will you please not bring your phone?”

Hashtag parenting fail.

I was stunned and for a moment, at a loss for words. Luckily, I was able to contain my remorseful tears. And after the world started turning again, I said, “Did you say that because you don’t want me to be on it while we are playing together?” To which he of course said, “Yes.”

I feel the need to defend myself a little and say that I am not typically on my phone a lot when we are together. Because I am a working mom, our time together always feels limited and I try hard to make the most of it. That being said, sometimes Ev doesn’t have my undivided attention. Sometimes, Ev gets clingy. He doesn’t want to be in a room without my husband or me and can’t seem to engage in independent play. When that happens for an extended period of time, ever since he was a baby, I can take him to his room, shut the door and let him at it. With me in the room, he’ll play for hours. And up until now, he would do so alone while I was on my phone or iPad. It provided a break for me and he was content.

I do feel guilty that Ev asked me to leave my phone and quite frankly, embarrassed that my preschooler straight called me out. But it was a wake-up call I needed. I realize now that I need to be clearer about whether it’s time for us to play together or time for him to play by himself. And when it’s time for us to play together, he’ll get my undivided attention. I’ll still get my time for me, time for “breaks,” but it won’t coincide with time with Ev. While that me-time is necessary for me to energize and be a good mom, I never want Ev to feel that he isn’t always my first priority.

I’m a mother first.

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