Letter to Those Who Didn’t Judge
Before I start this letter, which is really a series of notes, I want to first address the topic of parent judging. Parent judging, in our culture, has almost reached the level of an Olympic sport. Oddly enough, the worst parent judging I have ever seen is online. It’s easy to judge when no one can see your face or mistakes.
I hate parent judging, but the sad reality is I am as guilty as anyone. Not so much anymore, but before I had children and even when I had only one child I found myself thinking, “why don’t they…”. Most of it stemmed from insecurity and a lack of knowledge.
I’ve learned better.
But I don’t want to focus on the people who judged. I want to acknowledge the people that have been kind and sympathetic. The moms with five children who have sympathized with the overwhelmed mother of one, the woman who helps with groceries, and the man who brings your child back to you at the mall when you didn’t realize they’d escaped from the play place.
I’ve been the one offered the, “don’t worry we’ve all been there,” when my child is crying on the airplane, or being too rough at the park, or making very loud, overly honest observations at the mall.
I want to acknowledge the kindness that has been offered when it would have been easy to judge. Who knows, maybe they did judge but were good and kind enough not to show it. Either way, I appreciate the lack of judgment I saw in their eyes.
To the older couple behind me in the checkout line at the grocery store – thank you.
While I was desperately trying to load groceries on the conveyor belt and quiet my screaming baby, you talked with my toddler. You listened to her count. You made funny faces with her. You told her that her untidy scrap of a ponytail was pretty and that her pink shoes that were on the wrong feet were cute.
When I apologized for my crying baby, you smiled and acknowledged that sometimes babies just cry. No judging my messy, sorry state.
To the man and son in the parking lot of the grocery store – thank you.
You saw the complete desperation on my face when I realized that I had left a trail of groceries leading from the store to my car. Fruit and canned soup were scattered like Hansel and Gretl’s breadcrumbs. You both jumped into action as I stood there staring at it, holding my baby in her car seat with one hand and my toddler with the other.
You didn’t wait to be asked and were happy to help.
To the mom with lots of kids and far more patience than me – thank you.
I took my three-year-old and baby to craft time at the library. My baby cried the whole time and, consequently, my nerves were frazzled by the end. I wanted to breeze through the final craft and get home. My three-year-old had different plans and began meticulously coloring in the lines, taking her time not to leave any white space while I bounced the hysterical baby. I tried to make her hurry by telling her to just finish. I could feel my frustration turning into anger because I wanted to leave. Couldn’t she tell mom was sweaty and frustrated from trying to keep the baby from crying?
You were there with at least four kids, including a baby, and managed to successfully help all of them complete their project. You must have noticed my sad state. You quietly came over and patiently helped my daughter finish her project while I stood there with my red, sweaty screaming baby. You didn’t say one judgmental word even though you surely could have. I said thank you. You smiled and went back to your rowdy brood.
To my in-laws who were busy entertaining guests – thank you.
I stranded myself on the beach with three children under the age of six. The only option to get them safely to the car was to walk them up a busy, narrow, steep, winding road pulling a wagon. I called in tears. You came, despite the fact that you were on the way to the airport to get your guests to their flight. You made it sound like a fun idea to come save me as though you had been looking for something to do all along.
To my parents – thank you.
Many of your visits are to watch us participate in science fairs, plays, musicals, and athletic events. We love having you come, but usually things are stressful and chaotic. You’ve seen some pretty bad mom moments where I freaked out – yelled, spanked, and lost my temper. You didn’t criticize or try to interfere. You’ve watched me make mistakes without judgment. In fact, you keep telling me I’m a good mother. You tell me enough that it helps me believe it and gives me the motivation to keep trying.