I see you over there, givin me the stink eye as I check my mail. It must feel good to sit there in your righteous judgement, huh? I mean, you are the example to all the other moms: you dress well, you shower daily, you make bread from scratch and you are president of the PTA.
But Mutha, lemme tell YOU what you don’t see right now…
That mom over there spent all morning trying to get her kid services he so desperately needs, and all her friends have abandoned her because her child is not like theirs, and it makes them uncomfortable. And she feels horribly alone and she worries about her child and how he will be treated every minute.
But you can’t see them because all you see are dirty sweat pants and unwashed hair.
That mom over there could really use a friend, because she recently gave birth to her third child and her post-partum depression is off that charts. Right now she might be thinking about making sure the kids are with their grandma before she takes the pills tonight. She might be thinking about leaving her husband. She might be thinking of running away.
You’ve seen her before, but have never offered her more than a cool nod, even when you noticed she looked frazzled and spent.
She sees it, and thinks she must be a horrible person because she can’t seem to make friends.
Now you are talking to one of the moms you do know, but you can’t hear the story beneath her story because all you can focus on is your own parenting, and you can’t hear that her marriage is faltering and she could use a shoulder. You only think that if there is a problem, your friend must be doing something wrong. Because marriages, like your own, work well when you do everything right.
Take a minute to LISTEN and HEAR and SEE the men and women around you. Not the face they show to the world, but the underlying story of hardship with which they might be struggling. Enjoy the camaraderie that comes with making adult connections.
Put your eyes back on the prize: COMPASSION.
Recognize that not everyone has the same views as you do, and not every parent is going to parent the way you do. EMBRACE it, and them. I’m not saying accept truly poor and abusive parenting that puts children at risk, but for godsakes, don’t put someone who wants a few seconds to decompress in the same category as a negligent parent.
Eventually all you will have is your blog and your righteousness and nothing else, because no one wants to know they are being judged all the time by the people around them.
When your children are grown and out of the house, no one will be there to go on grand adventures, or to play card games. No one will invite you to join their book club because they all know that you hold your opinion to be the most important, and no one feels that you are at all kind.
In fact most of them think you are mean. And will not be sorry to see the back of you.
You’ve shown them how judgemental you can be, how, when they need a few measly seconds, or minutes or even a freaking hour to hear their own thoughts and grab a little peace in whatever form it can take, you will look down your nose at them and call them bad parents and think yourself better than them because you have tried them in your court of personal opinion and found them guilty of being themselves.
I know you think you are trying to help them.
I know you only want to show them the joys you experience being a parent the way you want to be a parent.
But those other parents can’t hear your joy. They can’t hear your urge to help. Because your judgement is screaming way too loudly.
May you never know the loneliness that can sometimes accompany parenthood. And if you do, may someone far more compassionate and caring than you come to your aid, for heaven help you if you come face to face with a mirror during those times. Because your kind of noisy, high-horsed judgement and disapproval? I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.