Offbeat Mama has been one of my favorites blogs for a while, as was Offbeat Bride when I was into wedding planning. This morning when I opened my Google Reader, I came across this wonderfully written, enlightening, and freeing post.
A judgemental attitude is something I have struggled with for a while. My dad took judging pro. If judging was an Olympic sport, he'd have won a gold medal. We judged everything from how long it took someone to pull out into traffic, (COME ON! I could have pulled a tractor trailer through that hole!) to people's behavior at family gatherings. (The ride home from family get togethers was always entertaining!) I also grew up steeped in the Christian religion and even though the Bible states in many places that one is not to judge, the doctrine, and community, send very mixed messages. I've never met a group of people (one the whole)more seemingly eager to eat their own! You are taught that you have Ultimate Truth on your side and anyone who does it differently then you (and your church) is wrong with a capital W. It's hard to grow up amerced in this sea of judgement and not have it rub off on you.
If ever there was an open season to judge a topic, it seems that topic would be parenting. I try to look at the positive side of things and assume it stems from an evolutionary need to protect the children of our community, but that doesn't make it any less of a pain in the... well, you know. I also think it gives us a sense of security, of control. The author of this article puts it much more eloquently then I ever could.
"I judged until my insides were pretzelled. I clamoured for safety in my judgements. I judged because I thought it made my world safer and more easy to understand. I judged because then I could know the right answer. I judged because then I could say “If only they ______, their baby would be okay.” I judged as though my judgements would save me, and would save my baby."
As the old saying goes, "We are all perfect parents... until we have kids." This was me for sure! I read birthstories throughout most of my pregnancy, dissecting them for the "wrong" decisions that derailed the women's "natural" childbirth plans. I figured if I found their mistakes, I could prevent them from happening to me. I judged formula feeding mothers for the "mistakes" they made which caused them not to be able to breastfeed. Judging gave me a sense of control over my situation. Those women were lazy or uneducated or did something to screw up their supply (like pumping too early or not drinking enough water). I wasn't going to make any of these mistakes, therefore I was safe.
And then my beautiful Turtle came along. And her birth was anything but what I had planned. And our breastfeeding experience was anything but what I had planned. And the illusion of safety that I had created was revealed to be just that... an illusion. And I began to see other women (and men) in a completely different light. Maybe, like me, they were just trying to do the best they could... the best they knew how. Maybe I needed to extend the grace I so desperately hoped others would extend to me and my situation.
Am I perfect? Absolutely not! Do, I still find myself judging others? Every day! But I'm trying very hard to create an internal dialogue of grace when I find myself judging another's actions. Except for ridiculous driving! I'll still judge you for that! And people like my brother who don't like ice cream! I mean, dude! It's ICE CREAM!