Go ahead and tell me who I am.
You think you know me, I can tell by how you are looking at me.
I can tell by the quick up and down body scan of me that you are doing with your eyes, your involuntary facial expressions, and your purposefully distant body language.
I will go ahead and tell you who you are — you are a judger, and you are unfairly and inaccurately judging me.
You see me in the same t-shirt from yesterday and with my greasy hair hidden under a headband, and you think:
“Does she even look in the mirror before she leaves?”
“Doesn’t she care about the impression she is giving the world right now?”
Yes, judgmental one, I do.
I am very proud that the impression I leave upon most, but apparently not you, is that my selfless tendencies tend to override my self-care.
Most days, which of course today is one, I choose to put myself second to my children and some days third or fourth, depending upon if I decide to prioritize my husband and our two dogs.
Day after day, I tend to the needs (and wants) of three growing beings, and if I can muster up extra compassion and time, I give that to my love-deprived partner and our neglected four-legged family members. This, sadly for me, means that showering daily, well, that’s a no-go. I guess that’s kind of sad for you too. Sorry about the smell. As for doing my hair and makeup and wearing fancy clothes, the best I can muster up for you is yoga pants, an oversized shirt, and top knot — with a swipe of Blistex for good measure.
You see me again the next day, and there I am feeding my son McDonald’s french fries for the 3rd day in a row, and you think:
“Doesn’t she realize that parents like her are the reason children are becoming obese?”
“What a lazy parent she is.”
Yes, I fed my child french fries today and yesterday — what’s the problem with that? They come from potatoes, okay? I feed my child a well-rounded breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day. If a mid-day french fry fix is going to keep him from melting down as we wait in pick-up line for his older sister, well, then I could give a flying fry what that apparently tells you about the kind of person I am.
It’s Wednesday, and we have managed to run into each other again. On this occasion, you witness me yelling at my innocent child for their age-appropriate mistake. You think:
“What a horrible mother and example she is.”
“Is that really how she parents?”
Well no, you very inquisitive onlooker, that is not how I regularly parent, but today has been a challenging day, and in my present exhausted state, I am not responding and reacting appropriately.
Still, I’ve got to tell you just how genuinely grateful I am that you have used your precious time to glance over at me jarringly and stare in disgust. This is your attempt to remind me that adults can’t make mistakes; I see that. The thing is, I’m going to make sure to not relay that message to my kids because unlike you, I actually believe it is beneficial for them to witness my less than becoming behavior.
When mommy eventually apologizes, and I always do, my children learn that it is okay to be imperfect.
We’ve made it to Thursday, and as I peek up from my phone, I see you curiously looking at me again. Your eyes tell me what you are thinking:
“She cares more about checking Facebook than she does about her kids.”
“Just another distracted parent — aren’t they the worst?”
Nope. I am not the worst, but thanks for being so willing to impose that title upon me. Little do you know, because you rushed to judgment, that I am working when I am on my phone. Guess why I work on my phone? It’s not so that I can eat bonbons and watch soap operas at the same time, okay? I work from my phone so that I don’t have to work outside of the home and can spend more time with my children. I’m trying to balance both a career and parenthood and let me inform you that your looks of disapproval really through dart right at all those balls I am juggling.
Do you know what else? Those times when I am not writing or reading an email and am on social media (yes, I admit that happens), I am taking a deserving break. Yes, even us mothers that work from home deserve breaks; it’s called self-care.
Like, I said, you are a judger, and I know that because I am one too.
But guess what?
I was wrong about you, just like you were about me.
I inaccurately perceived you to be examining and criticizing me, when all you were merely thinking was how impressed you were by me. Impressed that I could do #allthethings — raise little ones who look happy, look decent doing it, and work.
You see, today is Friday, and when I met your eyes this afternoon, you gave me a look as if to say “Bravo.”
Thank you for the recognition, but I’m not sure I’m that impressive.
This whole week I’ve wrongly assumed you to be critical of me, when all the while, it was I who was the judgemental one.
It’s a disgusting and juvenile habit to assess and conclude about people based off of appearances, brief glances, and surface-level conversations.
Next time we bump into each other, how about you go ahead and tell me who you are and I’ll go ahead and listen. I’ll listen with an open heart and an open mind, and then I’ll let you know a little bit about myself — that’s the real way to get to know people.