Judgement. Living life as a woman, and now as a mother raising a little girl - this is a topic that I feel like enough attention could never be paid. How many times in my life have I felt judged?
Let's start with junior high ... where the earliest memories I have of feeling like I was not good enough lie. Those were some dreadful days. I could never be paid enough money to be forced to relive them. One incident in particular sticks out in my mind. Gym Class, 1998. It was time for the "partner dance" segment of the mandatory Social Dance unit during gym class. A terrifying proposition.
I wouldn't call my junior high days my glory days. This is for sure. I was the skinny, painfully shy, glasses wearing eldest child of my family ... I had no guidance or advice from older siblings ... no one to tell me not to wear that Mickey Mouse hoodie and red Levi jeans combination to school on the first day of grade 7. I was a good reader, liked by all of my teachers (so much so that one even nominated me to be her "classroom helper" - just the position any 12 year old wants to be in while in the midst of working on being accepted more and judged less - insert sarcasm here). I had exactly 4 friends.
Back to Social Dance. My gym teacher decided that the best way to force each of us panicking pre-teens to find a partner would be to have everyone scramble around and once we had selected a companion we were to sit down on the floor beside him or her. I will always ponder whose masterful idea this was. Had they really thought this through in its entirety? All I can remember next is everyone's eyes looking up at me. There it was - judgement - like swords in my side. Myself and maybe 6 or 8 other poor, unfortunate souls left scattered and standing throughout the gymnasium. As if we had blinking signs over our heads that read "Yup, you got it, no one picked me." Honestly, now.
As I continued to grow up that judgement thing just kept showing it's wonderful face. Trying to fit in. Trying to dress the part. Envying other girls my age that had it more together than I ever would. Wishing that my 4 friends and I could travel higher up the popularity ladder. The constant bombardment of images of beautiful women in the media ... Britney, Christina, J-Lo. Impossible to ignore. Impossible to live up to.
And then there came the 'be all end all' form of judgement in my early years. Us women know it all too well. Mean Girls. And not even just mean girls that I didn't know, but also some of the girls I held dear, my comrades, my friends began to take on this title. Then at times, so did I. Through junior high, into high school, at the mall, and then in the bars, and even into my twenties. Whispers and laughter, damaging rumours, looks of death and what can only be described as torturous psychological warfare. It sounds dramatic, I know, but it was reality - girls can be ruthless.
I look back now and I think why? We are so much more powerful when we stand together than when we try to tear each other apart. Was it competition? Maybe jealousy? Emotions and hormones running high? Probably a combination of all three ... we will all never really know for sure.
Now that I am a Mom, especially being a Mom to a little girl I reflect back on all of this with some (ok, who am I kidding, ALOT of) trepidation. Sav is going to have to go through many of these things. She will have mean girls come into her life. I can't stop that from happening, or build a bubble around her little body so that she never has to feel these kinds of hurt.
But, one thing I can do, I've realized is keep my present day "judgey eyes" in check. I am not going to sugar coat anything ... the theme of this blog, and what is getting the most notoriety at this time is my honesty. I try to put a lot of thought into my words before I type them - making sure that I don't hold anything back and that I am truly speaking from a place of authenticity.
And with that I will admit it ... before I became a Mom I absolutely judged other Moms. At the time not knowing better. Maybe I thought it was going to be easier. Or that I was going to do things differently, and in my mind at the time, better. I was never going to feed her processed foods, I was going to make sure she learned how to sleep through the night within a few months (AAAHahahahaha!), and she was definitely NEVER going to look at an iPhone until she was at least a teenager.
Now that I am a Mom, amongst the many things I have learned ... one of the most important is truly to ... NEVER freaking JUDGE. Each of us are doing our best to survive. To get through each day with happy children and full and more importantly, sane hearts. There are absolutely going to be days when you just need to pull out the Kraft Dinner and put the baby in front of the television for a little bit.
And all of this does not just apply to my life as a Mom ... it applies to my life in its entirety. Replacing judgement with compassion. I hope to teach Sav this as she grows. You just don't know what another person may be going through. You never really know someone else's story until you read a page from their book, or until you have to pick up a pen and write one of your own.