After reading Matt Walsh’s blog about people judging parents I had to put my two cents in. Stop it. Stop it now, especially my age group with grown children. You’ve forgotten the Hellish part of parenting we endured for our kids’ sake.
Before having children of my own I knew everything about parenting. Everything. From the way women held their newborns to disciplining teenagers, I knew absolutely everything there was to know about parenting.
Then I had two little boys who took apart my world and rebuilt it completely. One of the most judgemental problems I had had was with parents who took their kids shopping late at night. What were they thinking? Why didn’t they go earlier? Sheesh, no wonder those kids are cranky. Looking back now, I’m ashamed of myself.
Right before my eldest was born, my husband was laid off from a good job and we went months without work. When he found another, it meant traveling and being away a lot, and I didn’t cope very well with that aspect of our marriage. One week my toddler came down with the stomach flu and was hurling on a pretty regular basis. We lived in Knoxville, Tennessee, a nice place, but we had no family and few friends. It was impossible to get in my car and go shopping for even the basics without Sam throwing up. We made do for days, and the moment he was well enough to take shopping, we went. It was late when we made it to the grocery store, and I got some judgemental looks about having my kid out so late. I wanted to yell at them “I have no diapers, no Jell-o, no Pedialite for my baby. Don’t you dare judge me!”, and had an interesting epiphany.
Another time I had my youngest with me on a car title search mission. We got the car title, I bundled my little boy back into my car and headed to the dealership where we’d bought a used stationwagon. I opened his car door, unbuckled him from his car seat, and slung him up on my hip only to have his diaper explode all over my new homemade dress. I pushed by nicely dressed car salesmen gawking at us and went to clean us up in the restroom. Nothing to do but strip Colin down, bathe him as best I could, re-diaper, and clean myself up as much as possible. My dress was ruined. We emerged from that restroom looking like an Appalachian Hillbilly cliche’ with a dirty, stained dress smelling like baby poo and a cranky sick baby dressed only in a diaper. I glared at the car salesman who handed over the car paperwork because I saw the judgement and absolutely no pity. Another epiphany.
The last bit I’ll share with you has to do with another grocery shopping expedition. Colin, still a toddler, and I were in a sparkly new Mandeville, Louisiana, grocery store. Once again we needed groceries more than I had self respect or time for pity. I don’t know what set him off, but he demonstrated the Doppler Effect throughout that store, and I matched glare with glare until we were done. He screamed like there was no tomorrow. When I handed money over to the cashier I could hardly see for tears threatening to fall, but by golly we had groceries, diapers, and God was in Heaven again.
Now when I’m in a store and hear a screaming baby, or on a plane and with a yelling toddler, I do my best to smile at the parents with sympathy and understanding. And mind my own beeswax. If they’re on the verge of tears, I try to say something comforting. You’d be surprised how grateful those beleaguered parents can be for just a little understanding. This planet is too small for us to forget how human we are, and how others desperately need our understanding and help. If you aren’t willing to be human, keep your judgement to yourself. Keep some earplugs in your pocket if the noise of life bothers you that much.