Friday, July 11, 2008

Judgement Call

Swistle has once again hit the nail on the head, most recently with her post about priorities and choices. Reading it led me on a tangential train of thought, beginning with Swistle's musings on finding the time to do what we love even at the expense of doing other, equally good things, and ending with what a friend and I were just talking about today while we were doing our grocery shopping.

We were buying baby food, and she kept apologizing about the fact that she felt compelled to buy organic while I was blithely stocking my cart with jars of Parent's Choice. "I hope you don't feel like I think YOU should buy it, too," she was saying. "It's just my thing! I don't judge people who don't care about organic stuff!" And I was laughing and saying, "I don't feel judged! I hope you don't feel judged by MY compulsion to dust everything once a week. That's just MY thing!"

Then we were comparing our shopping cart covers for the babies- hers is mainly of the germ-prevention kind, a barrier between Gabe and any icky surfaces. Mine is a giant pillowed contraption to keep Eli from hurting himself when he (inevitably) begins flailing around in fury, and also to make it a comfortable nap area if he feels so inclined. We both started sort of apologizing to each other then, too, reassuring one another that the other person's cart cover was perfectly nice and acceptable!

Why do we feel so compelled to defend our choices to other people? Why do we feel worried that they are judging us by choosing something different, or that they might feel judged by OUR different choice?

Well, I think it's because we DO compare ourselves to others, to a certain degree, all the time. We try not to, sometimes, and we are partially in denial about it because of our culture's emphasis on diversity and tolerance, but the universal truth is that people observe other people's lives and choices and compare them, favorably or otherwise, to their own. It is human nature.

Sometimes it's a good thing, and encourages us to explore and stretch ourselves. An example of this is a party I attended recently, where I observed the enormous supply of crafts the mom had for her two kids. As I admired her stash, I of course also felt guilty; I mentally chided myself that I "should" be doing more crafts with Addy. But then I dismissed the guilt, and decided I should do crafts only if I thought Adelay and I both WANTED to do more crafts.

A few days later, I went to Hobby Lobby and purchased, not an entire room full of supplies, but one simple project, which we did together the next day and enjoyed. I ended up doing most of it, though, and Addy got about ten minutes of enjoyment for an hour's worth of glitter cleanup. So I decided that art projects do not need to be an everyday part of our world, at least not right now. That is my choice, and I own it, and I do not apologize to anyone.

But there is, of course, a downside to this observation/judgement cycle. That's when we start deciding that our own values must be EVERYONE'S values. Because I enjoy scrapbooking, you must do it, too, or you are a thoughtless mom who doesn't cherish her kids' fleeting childhoods! Because I bake everything from scratch, I love my kids more than you moms who buy Little Debbies! Because I iron my kids' clothes before school every day, you are a slob who lets your kids go to school looking like ragamuffins! And so on.

It's just so lame and tired, all the one-upping and the self-righteousness when it comes to women's, and particularly moms', priorities. The facts are as follows: we all get twenty four hours. We all would like to do- and think we SHOULD do- about twice as much as we actually have time to do. We all have some money. Some of us have less than others. And we all have obligations and responsibilities. Some of us more than others. So we make judgement calls. We prioritize, and we do what we believe to be in the best interest of ourselves and our families and our kids and our pets and our bank statements and the environment. Sometimes all of those things can't get equal priority. Sometimes something has to give. Sometimes we are too tired and stressed to think too hard about it, so we make snap judgements ("Here! Have another fruit snack!" or "Let's just put it on the credit card!") that we might not necessarily be proud of later. Sometimes, for better or worse, we put ourselves first. There has to be give room for these moments. There has to be grace, from ourselves and from others.

So let's save the judging for the pedophiles and the crooked politicians, and cut some slack for each other.

25 comments:

Fiona Picklebottom said...

Very well said.

Mimi said...

Amen!

Pickles & Dimes said...

Hear, hear!

(Do you scrapbook? Because we should chat about that some time if you do...)

Jess said...

This is brilliant. There was a short piece in the latest issue of Glamour magazine about how women need to stop judging each other's choices, too. Did you see it?

Bird said...

Here here!

I was thinking about similar stuff today. Mostly, the fact that I am at home with Charlie and no one else that I grew up with has opted to stay home with their kids. I'm NOT judging, but sometimes I say stuff and I think that maybe I SOUND judgement. Hell, I respect people's ability to have choices I MEAN that. I'm not sure everyone realizes that, though.

Erica said...

I love this post. And you, too.

LoriD said...

I couldn't agree more. We're hard enough on ourselves without having to hear about if from anyone else.

Swistle said...

I love this. I love how you said this. I love your examples. And I love you and your friend, eager to love on each other's choices!

d e v a n said...

brilliant!!!

SLynnRo said...

I've been thinking about this alot lately, especially with BlogHer coming up and suddenly meeting everyone and their dog in person.

Well said.

Mommy Daisy said...

Awesome! Like Bird said, sometimes I worry about coming off judgy when I'm not. It's so hard to draw that line.

houndrat said...

Great post. And ultimately, I think what helps is finding a group of mommies that are open-minded. Because it's so, so easy to get sucked into the whole "judgey" thing, even if you don't want to go there.

Now I'm off to spend some time doing a few things I love---hanging out with the hound dogs, eating some yummies, and watching What Not to Wear while the kids are in bed.

Jess said...

I wub you!!!

ya ya's mom said...

preach it sista' i loved your post!!! you deserve to win my new PIF giveaway, so go check it out!!! http://yayasmom.blogspot.com

Shannon said...

Here, here!!

Cate said...

What a great sentiment! Now if only we could apply it to womanhood at large and all of the judgment that goes on with everything about a woman and her appearance maybe we could say we have finally made progress. The fact that we women are our own harshest critics is very very sad. We should be supporting one another because motherhood is tough enough without adding to the guilt/shame cycle by comparing ourselves to other people.

CP said...

Hmm, it's CP here- the one who posed the question to Swistle to begin with. I wasn't too sure after reading Swistle's post but am feeling more sure after reading your post: I wasn't judging Swistle at all for being on the computer. I was just asking, from a point of admiration, how she managed to do so much. That was all. I read her post and thought- wait, I wasn't asking any more than what I asked- how do you do it all? In no way was there any judging going on. I went back and read my Twitter and still don't get where the assumption of judging came from. In any event, I'm sorry my question caused anyone any issues.

Off to Swistle's to apologize there as well.

Musings of a Mom said...

Regarding our tendency to judge one another... Sometimes I think there might be some evil force in the universe that will do anything to keep women down, because of the power we all could have in joining forces together. And also the power we would all have if men and women could respect each other. But I believe we are getting better at loving and respecting each other every day! There is hope!

Annie said...

Amen, sister. This is so relevant to my feelings about the parenting message board to which I am apparently addicted. People get downright disrespectful of other people's parenting choices when it differs from their own and go to great lengths to convince others of the correctness of their choices. And then I get so up in arms about the disrespect and I have to remind myself to take a step back and remember that it is an internet message board. The judging goes on more covertly in real life. *sigh*

beth said...

All so true and so good to hear. Now, if only I could stop judging myself.

Susie Q said...

I've been reading your blog for awile and this will be my first comment: Amen sister! I couldn't have said it better myself. I am very hard on myself when I see mom's that have all this wonderful time to do these "educational and bonding" activities with their perfectly pressed children. I work a full time job and most nights "educational and bonding" activities at my house consist of me turning on a movie for my boys, trying to fill the dishwasher, do laundry, and cook dinner, all while trying not to feel guilty for not being a SAHM because we can't afford it. I am way harder on myself than anyone else.

Kelsey said...

Amen!

Astarte said...

I soooo agree. I think everyone has friends they do that with. One of my friends, in particular, I'm paranoid around because they are seriously, seriously broke, and I find myself censoring what I say all the time about what I've done or bought at the grocery store because I don't want her to think that I'm making a Comment. It definitely is exhausting. I'm going to stop doing it.

kirida said...

I hear you on this. I went to Babies R Us with a friend and she wanted to buy a Boppy pillow. I told her that they sell them on Craigslist and she said, "I think that's disgusting." Then she paused and added, "But that's okay if OTHER people do it."

yolanda spearman said...

We were buying baby food, and she kept apologizing about the fact that she felt compelled to buy organic while I was blithely stocking my cart with jars of Parent's Choice. "I hope you don't feel like I think YOU should buy it, too," she was saying. "It's just my thing! I don't judge people who don't care about organic stuff!"