He left to watch grown men kick each others asses in a fight ring.
Meanwhile, I’m trying not to get mine kicked by my kiddos in the ring of our circus tent.
So, Out of the Box it comes. Their dinner.
Potatoes. Mac-n-cheese. And green beans from a can.
“It’s the generic brand that really gets me laughing. Great Value. Fucking rad!”, her text spews in response to the pic of me below.
Earlier that day, feeling sassy, I posted a status update on Facebook about how I think it’s mean and dumb to say to your kid at the park “Don’t run”. It’s THE PARK!
And I got a bit schooled by some buds of mine who reminded me that while, yes, it does seem like quite the odd demand, I should remember not to judge since I probably don’t have the whole story.
Asthma, recent surgery, bone disease, fears, a nearby sleeping baby, bugs-might-bite-your-toes, may-start-an-earthquake, God doesn’t like running, whatever. A variety of reasons could be behind that request.
And while I still have some doubt that the times I’ve heard it shouted there was real, bonafide, good intention behind it…I do have to honor the Unknown.
But then, hours later, I turn around and feed my kids Out of The Box.
The Box of Shame. The Box of Bad Mommy. The Box of Guilt. The Box of Future Bad Health.
And I could possibly be a lonely dangling status message on someones Facebook page saying “Can you imagine? Feeding your kids dinner Our of The Box?!”. And I am the words being thrown like angry stones against a sinner.
We all like to say “Well, I really try not to judge others….but….”. At least, I know that I say it. In conversations with friends, we say it too. “Oh that mama did this, and that person did that, but really, I’m not judging them….”
I say I don’t judge you if you choose a medicated birth prior to labor, or if you don’t breastfeed, or if you sleep-train your baby, of if you hate the gays, or if you circumcised your son, or if you get your parenting advice from Babywise, or if you don’t wear your baby, or if you aren’t pro-choice, or if you like milk chocolate as opposed to dark.
But the truth is, I do. And so do you.
I don’t judge you as a person, but I judge your choices (as in good, better, best). Just like you judge mine.
I don’t LIKE that I do. And I try to quell that judgement as much as possible.
But isn’t judgement, on some level, part of our humanness?
We are animals, and yet we are aware. There is a constant dichotomy occurring in our brains that tells us we need to survive by being an independent individual AND by finding our tribe. We make snap judgements about others as a way to define and categorize ourselves.
We judge what we see, that which is apparent. Which means that we certainly don’t have all of the story, and background, and reasons.
Judgement is a filter, a way to compare the information and experiences in our lives to other information presented. It’s like an “If/Then” algebraic equation. Except that the “x” of the unknown is almost always present and THAT’S the place in which Love needs to step in.
I think judgement does not necessarily have to be a harmful thing . It’s what we choose to DO with the judgement that really matters. (Kind of like anger…)
It’s about allowing judgement to flow in and then out again, as unaffected as possible. It’s about not judging the judgement. It’s about recognizing the Unknown.
I like how Seneca puts is “If you would judge, understand”.
Understand the moment that person is in. Understand the moments that have brought them to that choice. Understand that you likely know nothing about the background that has led a person to make their choice.
Resolve to accept that unknowing and revel in Love.
Turn judgements into observations.
My <un-trained> brain on judgement:
“Oh man, that mama really should be wearing her baby instead of pushing it in that gigantic contraption of a stroller. She’d be a better mama if she did. Baby would be happier if she did…”
My <trying-to-be-trained> brain on judgement/observation:
“That mama is pushing her baby in a stroller……Sometimes I do too. Especially when I’m out all day at a museum and we have all three kids and inevitably one or two don’t want to walk anymore. Plus, it’s a handy place to hang my purse and stash our snacks. Wearing my baby is almost always easier, though. I’m glad I have this fantastic Ergo. “
Brain knows that the judgement is coming from: My knowledge of how babywearing makes life so much easier, particularly if you have more than one child. My experience with good, structured, comfortable, safe, and healthy (for baby) carriers. My knowledge of research that proves that babies need to be close to their mothers (and daddies) to facilitate bonding, breastfeeding, learning, development, healthy digestion, and less crying.
I then try to remember that the mama I’ve passed judgement on: probably hasn’t had experience with babywearing and/or hasn’t been around women who wear babies often, or hasn’t been given information on babywearing, or forgot her carrier, or has a baby who doesn’t like being worn, or has decided – for her own valid reasons – that today it would be easier on her to put her baby in a stroller.
Allow my heart to hear this initial judgement, remember my experience, simply tell myself “she has valid reasons”, and then let judgement pass.
I’m sure there is something Zen-like about this but it’s too much pressure to label it as so.
The crazy thing is we spiral in judgement. We start to judge ourselves for judging! It becomes a heaping, steaming pile of Judgement with a capital J.
Enough is enough.
So, let’s stop rationalizing our judgement – like I do – and just start talking. Accept that we are humans that judge in moments – sometimes silently and sometimes not so much. Let’s keep the conversation going. Stepping Out of the Box. Asking questions. The deep ones, not the surface ones. Let’s tell each other our stories.
- Ask me what it felt like to come back from a college class and denounce my faith.
- I want to know what it feels like to be on your knees in sacred prayer.
- Ask me what led me to choose to birth my babies at home.
- I want to ask you what your body was telling you as it opened itself for your child; how you knew what you needed.
- Ask me how my gay friends and my gay bosses came out to me.
- I want to know about that one moment that you knew you were definitely not gay.
- Ask me what my blood and bones sound like when I hear a baby crying for longer than 10 seconds.
- I will ask you what inspired your parenting style and what you have found to be easier and harder about parenting….
- Ask me why I credit my husband to my easy and amazing breastfeeding experience.
- I want to know what the trick is to making a bottle quickly and efficiently without your baby crying too long.
One of the many gifts of birth work has been that I get the honor to witness women and their families in the most vulnerable and powerful moments of their lives. This has given me a unique and very-appreciated glimpse into some of the various, multi-layered choices people make. There are always good, loving reasons. I have seen them in action. I have seen the consequences, the ripples that the pebbles have made in the sea of One Love. Often, when a judgement slips across the threshold of my lips, I call to mind the face of one of these women and I nod and remember. And love washes over me like the tidal wave of birth.
Sometimes, I slap my judging self across the cheek as a wake up call. Sometimes, I hold her hand and weep. Oftentimes, I just tell her to shush and send her for a bite of chocolate and a deep, soft nap.
Slide onto the couch beside me and let us toss our judgements of each other out there. Let us laugh at how ridiculous they sound. Let us sing them, bust them into rhymes, and mock each other with grand gestures and endorphin giggles.
We are all totally and completely Out of The Box.
Thus, let the stories begin.
“Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement”. – Jim Horning
“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.” – Buddha