There is something in the air of the giant suburban abyss where I live.
I’m not quite sure exactly what it is, but I think that it just might be this overwhelming stench of self-righteousness that is polluting my Facebook feed, parent pick-up at school and not-so-lonely halls of the gym.
Somewhere along the lines, people have decided that their opinions, belief systems and ways of life ARE the only way of living.
I think in academic terms, that is called ethnocentrism.
But, here I think that it is ethnocentrism narrowed from a cultural perspective to one of the individual…which, I guess brings it down to a level of naive realism or maybe, in some cases, egocentrism or perhaps even narcissism (depending on a whole bunch of contextual factors).
I am tired of people blabbing their ridiculous short-sighted and narrow-minded opinions all over.
Granted. People can bitch and moan all they want.
I do it.
But, we need to do it from a place where we understand that it is OUR OPINION and PERSPECTIVES and interpretations of events that is creating this bitch session.
It really isn’t the other person – except in extreme cases.
We need to understand that we are experiencing an event through our own little narrow world of reality and that is all.
Our perspectives are not the “end all” of belief systems and foundation of reality and life on earth for anyone except for ourselves.
And I’m frankly tired to the judgement.
One recent narrative entailed a lovely woman (nope – not sarcasm, a truly nice woman) who wrote,
“I’m sitting in the parking lot of Fresh &Easy gathering my grocery list, coupons , etc and this mom next to me is flipping out on her kids BIG TIME! Now, I get it, I’ve been there before, though I’ve never said the things she is saying and she’s like way outta control, but whatever… THEN, she swings her car door open in a rage and slams it right into mine with absolutely NO regard. Looks at me, shrugs and proceeds to just get in to her car. So, I jumped out of my car and suddenly her kids are the least of her problems. Good news is that she’s on her way home with all her teeth in her mouth. Lucky her.
What’s wrong with people? A simple I’m sorry would have sufficed. RUDE!”
I get it.
People do shit that piss me off all the time.
And I think they are rude and suck, too.
However, I also think that the commentary was short-sighted.
Perhaps because I can relate so intimately with the Ranter.
Going into a grocery store with three kids sucks. There is no time to sit leisurely in the car and count coupons and make lists.
Not in my life anyway. I have three kids tied into car seats busting to get out.
And, if I had the guts to take my kids out of the house today or yesterday, there is a good chance that the Ranter would have been me.
Judge, point fingers, whatever.
Although I work hard to keep my “ranting” at home, there are days when my kids probably cower in the shadows of anywhere when I start to yell.
Walls probably vibrate.
The language is vivid.
My kids know I mean business.
This weekend was a ROUGH weekend at my house.
To the point that today I was playing with the idea of dulling the pain of parenthood with tequila before the sun came up.
Broken toys, hearts and spirits.
With a two-year old going through a horribly ‘fun’ phase of 2, and a son and a daughter that keep themselves entertained with endless rounds of wrestling-turned-savage throw-downs and screaming, yelling, running, hiding, hitting, kicking, punching matches, I was at the level of the woman at the grocery store flipping out at my kids.
It wasn’t pretty.
I put myself in the a time out.
And by 6:15pm, all the kids were in bed.
By 6:30 they were all asleep.
And why all the drama?
Outside of pure exhaustion, I’m not sure.
Perhaps testing limits.
Seeking identity and esteem in all the wrong places.
And parenting pushed me to MY limits.
I yelled. I removed doors. I dropped the “F-Bomb.”
I made my son sweep the back porch until it was nearly dark and made my daughter stand at the sink and wash dishes until her hands were prunes.
I turned into my dad with the manual labor and turned into my mom with the tears coming out of eyes of dagger-filled guilt.
I was, quite indeed, the woman in the parking lot freaking out at my kids.
Only I was able to do it in the ‘luxury’ of my own home.
And something tell me, that the ‘perfect’ mom of coupons has had days like mine, too.
And she shouldn’t be so quick to judge.
Not matter how much we think we know, we do NOT know the paths people walk every single day.
Even if they drive the same kind of car as us, live in the same town as us, go to our church, school or shop at the same Target.
We do not know.
So, we need to be careful in our judgements.
Especially when we place them all over our FB feeds for our friends and neighbors (who may indeed know the lady flipping out in the parking lot of the local grocery store) to see and make comments on.
Always, of course, placing ourselves in this place of esteemed perfection where we – God forbid – would ever have moments of being plain old shitty parents.
And we don’t know what drove this woman to a point of being a shitty, screaming parent.
We don’t know.
SO, we should be careful.
She could be us one day.
And do we want people judging us and making public, local, statements about our lowest points?
I think not.
This goes in the same circle that so many blogs and magazine articles are writing about lately.
SUPPORT your fellow women. Stop judging them.
Stop blaming them for being shitty parents, ugly, fat, working…whatever.
In the realm of things, we are nobody to make such public displays of judgement for our peers and neighbors to see.
I see people doing shit all the time I think is wrong, incorrect or inappropriate.
And in the most important cases, I actually sit and talk to the person and say, “What the fuck is going on with you?” or “Are you OK? Something isn’t right”
If the person doesn’t deserve the time it takes me to sit and talk and figure shit out, then the person definitely doesn’t need me making public statements about them – open to the world of judgement.
If the situation is so shitty it deserves a paragraph long rant on Facebook, clearly – especially in a situation where we DO have control, we need to have an adult conversation about what is going on.
And not just throw someone out to be brutally ambushed by the ‘perfect police’
At the end of the day, I think that for the most part, as parents we do the best we can do. And sometimes our best is devastatingly shitty…and other times it is so overwhelmingly wonderful we wish we could be like that always. We all have horrible days. We all do. No matter how much we love our kids, spouses, friends, jobs, lives – whatever.
We all have them.
And in the moment of shittiness, we do things we shouldn’t.
Like say “fuck” or throw temper tantrums that outrank those of the toddler.
I had some really down and dirty shitty days this past weekend. And I can empathize with the lady in the parking lot. And I am thankful my neighbor – who undoubtedly heard me screaming and tempers flying and perhaps saw me throwing toys into the garbage cans like they were covered in the black plague – said nothing. I am thankful she didn’t go and post on Facebook what a horrible parent I am and what a wonderful person she is for not acting like me.
My guess is because she has had some pretty shitty days, too.
We all do.
So before we criticize and judge and place ourselves on golden pedestals of humanity, we need to stop and think.
And be conscious.
The path we are on may currently be blessed and full of love, support and opportunity. The woman next to us might be fighting battles that are incomprehensible.
She might be doing the best she can to hang on to what she has left.
Perhaps she needs support.
Or a warm smile.
Something to remind her that there is something good in the world.
Something to remind her she isn’t alone.
And it will be OK.
Because, in the end – it will be.
But sometimes we need someone to help us remember.
My lesson in this is to practice this mentality with more vigor and be so much more careful with who and when I share my judgements.
I know what it is like to walk in scary, lonely places.
I don’t wish that on anyone and can only hope that I’m brave enough to help when someone clearly needs it instead of taking the low road and bashing them down even farther than they clearly already are.