Wednesday, February 8, 2012

To Judge or Not to Judge

The friends I have here in North Dakota are wonderful. Two of my friends I met at the local coffee shop/thrift store. Yep. They combine them here; that is now North Dakota rolls. It rocks. Anyhow, these ladies are blessings from God and I thank Him regularly for allowing our paths to cross.  Two of my other friends I met through CMG; one is the wife of Larabee’s supervisor and the other is the wife of my ex-supervisor. Again, I am so thankful to have them in my life. In fact, I am thankful that they are not only in my life but in the lives of my husband and our children as well.

With Kyle being in Head Start I really thought it would be a great opportunity to make friends with some of the other Moms, that way play dates would be easy to get. When I started working more during the day I became completely disinterested in making friends with my fellow HS parents because I simply had no time to do so. Of course, we exchange pleasantries outside of the room while waiting for the kiddos to get done with their day. We say hi to each other in the store or at the post office. Very superficial, very low maintenance.

In all of the time I have ‘known’ some of the other parents, I will admit that I have formed some pretty solid opinions about what type of people they are. I try really hard not to judge others, especially if I do not know them in any way. I guess it is a bit harder not to judge someone if you feel you know them on some level, no matter how little you really know them. Additionally, I guess I somehow forgot that judging is judging. Voicing your judgmental opinions to others? You are judging people. Thinking judgmental thoughts? Yep….still judging people. Just because you do not say it out loud does not make it any less wrong.

Anyhow, the mother that has been bearing the brunt of my internal judging is the reason I am writing this post. Up until today I knew that she has 5 children; one son and one daughter (I think) older than her son in HS, her son in HS, a daughter who is a bit older than Kaleb, and a baby girl born about 3 weeks ago. The oldest two have the same dad, which I believe was her first husband. The youngest 3 have the same dad, who is still in the picture and who is her boyfriend. She seems to be an….unenthusiastic mother on many levels, and not just because she has so many kids or just because she just had a baby. She just seems sort of ho-hum about the whole parenting thing. See. Judging.

Today, while waiting for the kids to get out of class, we started talking and somehow our conversation led to her years growing up. Recently there was a lice outbreak at the school, of which this mother knew nothing. She said that she had lice a few times growing up and that it was terrible. Then she said that when you are living in a group home nobody can make fun of you for having lice because it is likely all the kids there have lice.

Wait a minute; back the truck up. Group home? I just nodded and let her keep talking, which essentially meant she told me that she grew up in the Denver ghettos and was in and out of group homes and foster care basically her whole childhood.

Ok. So maybe this woman views parenting differently than I do. Does that give me the right to judge her? So she is a little ho-hum….but maybe that is just her personality. Maybe she is WAY more patient than I am and is, ultimately, a better mother than I am for it. Or maybe, just maybe, parenting is not a damn contest that we are all automatically entered into when we bring new life into this world. Maybe we should all just leave each other alone and stop judging every gosh darn little thing the other does or does not do exactly as we think it should be done.

That 5 minute conversation began innocently and then lead to her sharing a bit more about herself, which made me feel like a loser for having preconceived notions about her…oh wait…. I mean JUDGING her when I really had no idea who she was or what she was about. I got a very good reality check today. I need to be a nicer person and think nicer things about people.

In all honesty, she is a great Mom. Her childhood was unstable and very difficult. She might have 5 kids by two fathers, but she takes care of all of her kids. They are home with her every night. They are fed and clothed and clean and healthy. They are well-mannered and kind children. She is doing a good job. She is not following the same path that her own Mom did. Her children are not scattered to the wind.

She is someone I would like to know more about.

She is someone I would be honored to call my friend.

Now I am off to work on becoming nonjudgmental in my own mind.

Pray for me.

**Edited to clarify that I did not mean to imply that having children by different fathers is 'bad' or something that should be judged. I meant to imply that many people would judge others because of something like that. Her Mom had 4 kids by one father, so I guess that was in my mind too; that she was different than her Mom in that way.