If the internet has taught us anything, it is that we as a global community have found over a million ways to judge another. The global community has also demonstrated its sheer power of either being able to support and catapult someone into stardom or crush their soul into a darkness.
There is much discussed about mummy shaming and judgment against parents. It flows in many forms from in person commentary to social media slam matches of comparisons and below the belt digs. Somewhat confrontingly it also occurs by way of glares and negative comments often when the child is having a ‘moment’ optimally saved for a public display.
Today i instead seek to praise the opposite experience – the parental almost secret society of stranger support.
A few of you may be raising your eyebrows in confusion – others will know exactly what I am talking about. This secret society is like a spiders web of their woven silk that crosses through all sections of society, popping up anywhere and everywhere offering non judgmental assistance, guidance, advice and encouraging words of praise. They usually involves brief, anonymous encounters between well intentioned people. These people are parents of young and older children, grandparents, aunties and uncles and people with no children currently in their world, yet one thing they all have in common is great compassion.
The other day I experienced two very touching and thoughtful encounters in the space of an hour that very nearly had me in tears. Not for any other reason than having absolute gratitude to these people and the greater universe that reminded me there was beauty and compassion in humanity.
The first encounter was when I was in a public business having to fill in some forms after waiting a good hour when my infant daughter decided she was hungry and today, very contrary to her usually chilled out, flow with the winds of nature attitude, this very moment she just would not wait (this change of wind being attributed to a terrible cold brewing within her). As I attempted to juggle the forms and settle her, including attempting to awkwardly feed her while she was loudly voicing her demands, a well intentioned lady who was standing by offered her motherly arms to feed my baby to allow me to complete my task ‘hands free’. Her offer was without even a little hint of judgment but over flowing with compassion at my juggling attempts.
Her offer was guiltily met on my part with guarded suspicion and fear that she may just run with the baby! This is partly why I refrain from the vortex of bad news… but that’s for a different discussion.
By that point I had already decided to pack in the towel and head home. I politely thanked this stranger for her kindness and we parted ways with smiles.
My next encounter followed soon after when I pulled over into a fast food carpark to settle the baby. A cuddle appeared to be the only solution acceptable while her body was fighting this new cold. As I stood beside the car with my daughter bundled in 24 blankets as I bounced in a soothing motion, a mother with a toddler in her backseat pulled up beside me.
“Its okay” She called out. I turned to be met with her kind smile.
“It gets easier and you get use to the lack of sleep“.
I had no real response other than “thank you” which was more than enough for her. She politely followed with the suggestion that i grab a drive through coffee as a little luxury. We parted ways with her kindly complimenting that i was “doing a great job”. I have heard this a number of times and I have given this compliment too. Broadly speaking, I don’t know these strangers extending beyond this very brief, ships passing in the night encounters. I have no idea of their parenting skills and they don’t know mine – nor do we need to. It’s not my place to judge the actions of another, particularly when I am audience to but a snippet of their world. But the paying of that little compliment may be the confidence booster they need as a reminder to soldier on when the task at hand is feeling somewhat overwhelming.
It’s easy to judge.
We subconsciously engage in judgment of others all the time. We all peek into the world of another wearing a superior hat thinking that if you stood in their shoes you would act differently. That may be right, but life is filled with grey shades and is completely subjective. ‘My way‘ doesn’t fit all and that’s the beauty of parenthood – everyone carries out their own role with their personal flare. Keep in mind that any judgement you are passing on another, particularly parents or carers of children having a public moment, is nowhere near that height of the judgment they are harshly passing on themselves.
Words, thoughts and actions are powerful. They can add beauty or act as a poison in our society. Carry out your humanitarian citizenship with responsibility. Be mindful of your judgments as your words and actions may be fueling the cancer of negativity in society.
When you see another in a challenging situation, do not be shy to tell them they are doing a great job – those words may be the turning point of their day.