Posted on January 28, 2016
I’d love to say that I have never judged another parent on their parenting, but that would be a lie. I could honestly say that I have also judged another person on their “personing” When we judge another person, we hold them up against ourselves and say to ourselves, rather smugly, that perhaps they could do a little better. We hold them up against others, and say they could do a little better. I can also say that at times I have been every bit as hard on myself as I have been on other people.
A few short years ago, I knew nothing of adversity, compared to what I do now. I know people feel like I have had a lot – a difficult childhood punctuated by sexual abuse and bullying, years of self loathing, years of being terribly hard on myself. Two hip replacement, horrible complications from one of them that which left me with a paralysed leg from the knee down, and an opiate addiction. I parent four children, one of whom has Down syndrome and autism. It sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? But it has not a patch on these days (which in the succinct words of Powderfinger, turned out NOTHING like I had planned).
I’m not saying any of this so you will give me a medal, and a chest to pin it on. I’m saying it because I want us all to think about judging other people, and to do this, I must share what I now know.
A few years ago, way before cancer, I went to a meeting at Georgia’s school, run by a carers association, to let us know what help was available to us through this service. There were some parents there, some single mums, some grandparents looking after their grandchildren with very high needs as there was no one else to do it. I sat there astonished as the woman running the meeting explained that there was a service available through the agency which meant if the sole carer of a high needs child needed to go to hospital because they were ill THEMSELVES, that they could get a carer to their home within 3 hours to care for a child that might be dependent on oxygen, peg feeding, might have frequent seizures. Tough luck if you felt like you might be having a heart attack or stroke, hang in there for three hours and we’ll get someone there. I looked around the room and saw the relief on the faces of some of the people there, and saw how grateful they were that this service was available, even though it was expensive, and only able to be used ONCE. These people were completely on their own. Imagine going to bed each night with THAT stuck in your head. That, my friends, is adversity. There really are people who are THAT alone. All those things I listed above – I never had to do any of them on my own, not really.
This is just one example of how we never know what battles another person is fighting.
I had a bit of a wakeful night last night due to the steroids on board from chemo. I wandered around the internet looking for things to read and happened on quite a few extreme examples of people judging other people on their parenting and personing. Everything from whether they breastfed, and how long for, to what they wore, be it to the school run, or the shops, and everything in between. I could almost physically feel the shoulders of people I didn’t know sink in despair, at the sheer impossibility of them achieving what looks so easy for other people (but you can bet your arse it AIN’T).
How about we make this the year that we stop this shit. That we stop comparing ourselves to other people unfavourably, that we stop comparing others to us. If we know someone else is struggling, let’s lift them up. Let’s tell them that we saw what they did today, and that was enough, they did good. It might just change someones whole day.