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Yeah, I know you’re judging me

19 Jun

I can feel your eyes watching me. See the frowns, hear the whispers to your mate, feel the weight of your glare.

I know you’re judging me.

You don’t know what is going on, or what the reasons are, you have just chosen to go to instant judgment of my parenting skills. And I’m found lacking.

You can’t wait though to go online and tell people about the person with subpar parenting skills you encountered. You can’t wait to show your superiority by exclaiming you would never do such a thing, because you care about your child. You don’t let your phone distract you. You would never give your child an iPad in public. You only feed your kids healthy snacks. Your child wouldn’t dream of throwing a fit in public. You wouldn’t spoil your child like that.

And when I say “Except we’re dealing with an extraordinary circumstance.”, you’re quick to back peddle.

“Oh, I didn’t mean you!”

Didn’t you?

Because you’re judging complete strangers that you may not have even spoken a word to. Because not every child with a disability looks disabled. Because the things you’re judging these bad parents for are things parents like me go through every day.

“Listen, I know you’re going off about parents making special meals for their kids and that we shouldn’t be short order cooks, but my child with food aversions/allergies only eats 15 things, and I’ll be damned if I’m eating chicken nuggets again in this century.”

“Oh! I didn’t mean YOU! I just meant this other parent I don’t actually know!”

“Yeah I gave her my iPhone to watch a movie on while we were at the coffee shop with friends. I actually wanted to talk to my friend and my kid thought we should leave as soon as he swallowed his last bite of cookie. I was desperately trying to milk out another fifteen minutes because I only get out of the house twice a year.”

“Oh! I didn’t mean youuuuuuuuuuuuu….”

No, you didn’t mean me. Except you kind of did. Because you don’t know, when you’re instantly judging that parent you see in public, the background of that parent and child. Because you don’t know them. You have taken the time to judge them, but have not taken the time to learn about them. That could be my daughter and me you’re judging.

And then you go home, you get on the internet, and you proudly proclaim that you’re totally judging that parent you saw handing their kid a device in a restaurant, or promising their daughter a treat if she’d just stop screaming.

And yet…and yet…if parents like me didn’t do all the things we were judged for above, then we’d be judged for not being able to control our kids. We’d have people in the next booth complaining to waiters that our child was being too loud and annoying. We’d be told that we shouldn’t bring “kids like ours” out into public where other people are trying to enjoy themselves. We are told how “a good spanking” would solve our kids behavior issues. Which is why your judgment of me falls on deaf ears. I stopped caring about what you think of my parenting child a decade ago and just do what I need to do.

I get it – we all judge people. Sometimes, those judgments are spot on. Hitler? Bad. Traffic? Annoying. Puppies? Adorable. Judging me a bad parent because you see my three-year-old in a stroller and feel the need to tell me so without knowing why I needed a stroller for my daughter with low muscle tone? Which really did happen to me? Rude.

Listen, I know not everyone is always going to pick up on my daughter’s differences, because they aren’t on a billboard above her head in flashing neon lights. But she happens to be my fourth kid, and I know I’ve been judged on the behaviors of my other three offspring as well. And people are so quick to judge. They don’t know if the kid is having a bad day because they were up late the night before. They don’t know if mom is dealing with post-partum depression. They don’t know dad is letting the kids ruin their dinner with ice cream because mom’s in the hospital being treated for cancer. They don’t know that those three kids with devices in their faces are only allowed those devices while waiting for their baby sister to go through yet another therapy session or doctor’s appointment, and those three kids are dragged to every appointment because dad’s working and mom can’t get a sitter. And mom knows how boring it all is. So got them devices to play on to make sitting in waiting rooms and hallways easier on everyone.

They don’t know.

You don’t know.

I don’t even know.

How about this? How about instead of judging parents, or defending your judgment, or trying to excuse your judgment…how about you just don’t judge those average everyday parents who are just trying to get through a store or a meal? Or maybe, you can judge them a little in the privacy of your own head, but keep your mouth shut and your fingers still? Maybe don’t broadcast that judgment to the internet.

Because everyone has an off day, and that parent your judging may really really not need that extra crap loaded onto them on that off day.

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15 Responses to “Yeah, I know you’re judging me”

  1. Christine June 19, 2017 at 1:45 pm #

    I kept thinking about you at mass yesterday. We were sitting up front with our friend Rachel. Rachel has sensory problems and processing problems and attention problems but we’ve worked really hard this year & yesterday was her first communion. She moved around a lot. She talked a little loud. She wore earphones & her hair was a mess. She sat on the floor for a while. And she & I left after communion because she was done. She doesn’t look different and I know how very much her parents felt self-conscious way up there in the front. The young woman with Down Syndrome sitting near us couldn’t take the disruption becasue we’ve all got our own things. I pray Rachel & her parents were not judged because everyone was doing their best. And it was her special day.

  2. Nicole June 19, 2017 at 2:08 pm #

    Thank you, thank you for saying this. Even if the people who really *need* to listen don’t…well, *I* feel better for someone having said it.

  3. pooped5 June 19, 2017 at 2:23 pm #

    Phoebe, I cannot like this post enough.

    I’ll admit, when I was younger and childless I used to be one of those Judgy people. Now that I have a daughter that is just like I was when I was a toddler, I find myself throwing up the unity sign to any parent I see going through the struggle.

    Good reading as always!

  4. marymtf June 19, 2017 at 6:46 pm #

    I often see multitasking mums pushing strollers down the street while checking their mail. I don’t want to compare the way I did things (two steps forward and one step back) with the way they do things. But I do know that we are the adults and they are the children. We have the life experience and resources to call on to be ahead of our children. Bring paper and crayons with you, or picture books if you want that extra fifteen minutes. I worked out that if I offered my children a once a week treat – big jar of sweets, they wouldn’t ask for chocolate frogs at the supermarket counter. 🙂

  5. Janet Warfield June 19, 2017 at 8:45 pm #

    It’s hard to say this, but don’t judge me for appearing to judge you. Oh, I would never be so rude as to say anything when you child acts up, but I might turn and glare at you for not controlling her. You see, just as I don’t know all of your story, you don’t know all of mine.

    My husband has Alzheimer’s Disease and/or Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD). He’s had it for 9 years now. That is, he’s been dying very slowly for 9 years. He was 68 when he was diagnosed, and I was 62. People with dementia are not just forgetful. Their personalities change. People with FTD can loose all understanding of what is socially appropriate behavior. My husband, who has a PH.D in pharmacology and was a Professor for 30 years, began by telling waitresses that he liked their bodies and patting them on the bottom. Sometimes he would tell a stranger in a store that she had a fat ass or she had nice tits. Occasionally he would hug and kiss someone he didn’t know. Oh, yes, he also had no concept of when he had eaten enough, so in restaurants, he helped himself to food off other people’s plates. He also has been violent, mostly because he gets confused, doesn’t always know where he is or what is happening. Then he panics, tries to get away from people and hits or shoves them. There have also been physical changes. He is completely incontinent, has difficulty walking, and also has problems swallowing.

    He has been in four facilities where they supposedly care for people with dementia. The first asked that he leave after a year, because the staff didn’t know how to care for him, and they were afraid of him. He had to leave the second after being there for a month, because he was getting in bed with female patients, he was undressing female patients and fondling their breasts; and he was touching staff members inappropriately. After leaving there he was in the neuropsych ward of a hospital where they “adjusted” his medication. They tried to find another facility for him. After 40 places refused to accept him, the hospital sent him to a place that I was not happy with. I was told he had to go there or I had to bring him home. He was there for a week. He had to leave there when he told a male resident that he was going to “f… his butt.” He then went to a different hospital neuropsych ward where they actually managed to get his medicine right. After that he went to another facility where he’s been for 3 years. His behavior has not been perfect there. He still hit and threatened others, but the behavior has improved a lot since he can’t walk without help, and the staff keeps him away from large groups of people.

    As you can imagine, this has been hard for me. I am depressed and anxious. I am always exhausted. Sometimes, I go out to eat in a restaurant and take a book along thinking I can eat, read, and relax. And sometime when I do that, there is a child being loud and unruly. And when that happens I am irritated and I may give the parent a dirty look. I’m sorry that I’m judging that parent. I hope you don’t judge me.

  6. crazyoldlady64 June 20, 2017 at 10:47 am #

    Thank you for this, my daughter is 34 and mentally ill and to this day, people judge me for her actions and don’t seem to understand that the inside of her head is a truly scary place, even for her. If the people that feel free to judge so easily, spent even a day in my shoes or an hour in her head, I’m pretty sure their outlook would be much different. All you can do is the best that you can do, and if people have a problem with it, I’ve seen karma come back and teach people what it’s like. Love your kids as hard as you can, and if you can manage to squeeze in 15 minutes to talk to another adult and just feel like Phoebe, then grab those 15 minutes for all you can!

  7. Angel of Anthropology June 20, 2017 at 12:19 pm #

    it is overwhelmingly amazing how many human traits are in fact hardwired into us. And just as amazing are the traits developed along the way. I’m not 100% certain judging is hardwired, but I know gossip is.
    I try not to judge as I have been judged openly and it never resulted in a good feeling. But sometimes I do judge inwardly, which I know we all do. The difference of course is we’re the only ones who know.
    I have absolutely no respect for people who jump online and tattle to their friends and followers about the unfit parent they just encountered. And how they know the person is unfit as they would NEVER do or allow their child to act in that way, especially not in public. That’s just so very narcissistic of the person and one has to wonder what grand counsel deemed what THEY do is considered being a fit parent?
    It’s also sort of stunning how many people come out of the woodwork with parenting advice, my favorite has always been those without children.
    Like you said, we know nothing about stranger’s lives. There was a time when people saw someone struggling with something they would jump in and help however they can. Now people stand on the side and judge the person or ever worse, whip out their handy smartphone and start recording.
    We have gone from tribes who support and help each other to self centered little brats. I can’t pin point when this change happened (I’m sure there are tons of hypothesizes out there about it) but it’s really sad that it has.
    And lastly I found this article to be amazing and I firmly believe people should read it. Hope you don’t mind me sharing the link!
    http://findingthegoldengleam.com/2017/05/the-unexpected-help-of-an-unlikely-samaritan-when-my-child-was-having-a-public-meltdown-and-how-you-can-be-of-service-too/

  8. Heather Roberts June 21, 2017 at 9:16 am #

    Well said! Motherhood is hard, but what a joy.

  9. Zash June 21, 2017 at 12:08 pm #

    I am in love with what you have written. Its the true voice of heart and is needed a lot. Though i am not a mom myself but being a psychologist and attached to a wing of special kids i truely can understand that how much acceptance is needed not only for special children but also for everyone. We as a society needs to STOP JUDGING!

  10. que Bottle June 21, 2017 at 7:13 pm #

    The call to empathy is so strong. At the end of it all, it’s the ability to empathize without requiring a background story. It’s the ability to choose kindness over anger, likely arisen from a lackluster teaching in feelings, experience, and difference. Thank you for sharing.

  11. mommabear0208 June 22, 2017 at 1:59 pm #

    I wrote a piece on this issue just the other week on my site. It’s one of those daily micro-annoyances that we have to deal with. On top of everything else we have going on trying to keep our girls safe, loved, fed and involved. https://blueberriesandgiggles.com/2017/06/15/looks-from-strangers/

  12. savvyandsassychick June 25, 2017 at 9:13 am #

    Thanks for sharing, I have a toddler, you know the temper tantrum phase and I get judge all the time. The ones I hate the most are the ones telling me how to be a better parent when she misbehaves!!!

  13. nikolinea June 25, 2017 at 1:15 pm #

    Thank you for writing this. I am not a mum myself, but I strongly support your message here. I am a judging person and I know that. I do my best to keep it to myself. Sometimes I say to much. Please don’t hesitate to tell me I am wrong and I should be quiet. Because it is true. Sorry and thank you in advance.

  14. Kate Mayer June 26, 2017 at 4:32 pm #

    Everybody’s got a story; I try to remember that and always be kind. I hope more people read this and do so as well.

  15. jasmijn70 June 28, 2017 at 4:52 am #

    Couldn’t agree more!

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