everyone’s a judge

A few days ago a friend and I were at the pool with the girls when we noticed a mom struggling with her daughter. The girl was 4+ and had the same name as C. so EVERY TIME she said her name, of course, I couldn’t help but whip my head around like someone was on fire.

The mom was desperately trying to get her daughter out of the pool. She had used up all the tools in her proverbial “mom bag”.  She had yelled at her, pulled her out, threatened her and – the little girl was unfazed. The older C. was obstinately playing in the pool and wasn’t going anywhere, no matter what her mother said.   In fact, every time her mother lunged at her to grab her, the little girl giggled and ran to the other side of the pool.

Pool-mom: “If you don’t get out in one minute, no books tonight.”  Giggles. “If you don’t get out right now, I’m GOING TO TELL YOUR FATHER.” Giggles, swim, swim.  “If you don’t get out right this second we are NEVER COMING BACK TO THIS POOL EVER AGAIN.”  Giggles, giggles, swim, swim.

Ugh. My heart ached for this mother.  I’ve been there. I feel you. I SEE you. I KNOW you.  I AM you.

C. and A. are both children who – at one age or another – would have run off with a perfectly good stranger if it meant that they could have stayed at the playground for a few more minutes.  Threats bounced right off of them.  For C. they still have no effect.  Most times I have to pick her up, throw her over my shoulder kicking and screaming as we leave the playground, only to push her into her car-seat so she doesn’t squirm out and try to run back to the playground.

This is EXHAUSTING and embarrassing.  Some days I just want to give up; give in.  Throw everything into one huge crap pile and say “YOU WIN!”  Stay in the pool, for all I care!  I’m going home to have a margarita and watch a movie.

So pool-mom I didn’t say anything to you that day, but I looked at you with sympathetic eyes (I tried to make them as sympathetic as possible) as if to say, I KNOW you.  We have BEEN there. Us parents have ALL been there and felt judged as a bad parent and a terrible person.

And as we walked away from the pool that day, my friend said: “Did you see that mom? She didn’t have control of that little girl at all. And that little girl was older than your kids.”  Her judgement of the pool-mom sat on me like a wet blanket.  My friend had forgotten what it was like to be pool-mom.

Don’t get me wrong, my friend is AWESOME.  She is also like majority of people out there that often find it too easy to cast judgement.

I do it too.  I judge the way people look.  The way they treat their bodies.  The choices they make, and sometimes even the things they say.  WE ALL play judge and jury.

But as a parent, who has struggled with managing my own insecurities about being good enough for my kids, I impeach us to put down our gavels and exercise bit more empathy.  That mom who can’t stop her kid from screaming in the airplane? Offer her some help.  The dad who can’t get his kids to be quiet at dinner? Offer him a smile.  Remember how hard it is to raise kids to be adults with value; and how important it is too.

It’s so easy to judge.  Our capacity to offer up compassion for other people is bound only by our imagination to realize that we are all trying our best and we have all been there, in one form or another.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your comments below.



7 thoughts on “everyone’s a judge

  1. I remember being judged, landing in Houston after a day of flying from India. 3.5 yr old was having a major meltdown. 1.5 year old was screaming for milk at the top of his lungs. And the lady in front of me gave me that smug look as she sat there with two stylish teenage daughters: can’t you control your children?

    I wanted to tell her we had been up for 36 hours. That my kids had left everything they ever knew behind. That I had already changed my top three times and my kids’ too many. Instead I gritted my teeth, survived the landing and repatriation of our dog, collapsed into my mother in law’s car, and vowed never to judge parents of screaming children again.


  2. I think it is truly delightful you see this trend towards premature judgement, in your case with children, but lets widen the scope, and realize this is true of age, religion, perceived social status, political ideals and circumstances we have no knowledge of. Who and What are we really judging, and do we have the right ?


  3. Absolutely! I always say I was a much better parent before I had kiddos. I am very very slow to judge any other parents. We just don’t know them! We don’t know what happened that morning, the hour before, the day before, etc. I love that you posted this. Thanks for sharing.


  4. This happened to me the other day! I had my girls at a store and the oldest who is two wanted an item that she didn’t need. She didn’t like me telling her “no” this also went along w no nap! I felt like I was being judged by so many people! I cried on my way home. Anyways I told my friend that day that I will never let any parent struggle in public I will do what I can to help!


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