Thursday, June 14, 2012

Judge Me Or Love Me

“Are you going to watch your little girl?”

We’d been traveling for about twelve hours and had just checked into a hotel for the night. We were road weary and wanting to get settled in before the baby got too far past his bedtime. After bringing most of our luggage up to our room, Clint stayed with Abram while Hannah and I went back to the car to grab a couple more things.

I pulled a bag out of the trunk and set it down. I needed to get something from the front of the car, so I told Hannah to follow me and made my way around to the passenger side.

I had just poked my head into the front seat when I heard a startling HONK! I stood up and saw a large truck idling in the parking lot, right behind our car. A man and woman glared at me from inside the cab.

“Are you going to watch your little girl?” The man angrily spat at me.

I furrowed my brow in confusion, which quickly grew to anger as the meaning of the words sunk in. Hannah stood three feet from me, gripping the side of the car and looking as confused as I was.

The couple continued to glare at me with the same look of disgust, as though they had just witnessed me trying to shove my child into the back of the trunk, or something far more sinister.

I have since thought of many wonderful things I could have said back to them, but I didn’t say a word. I simply took Hannah’s hand and went back to gathering our belongings from the car. They drove off, no doubt congratulating each other for not being as negligent and senseless of a parent as I was. Inside I was furious, but I chatted cheerfully with Hannah, determined to be the parent I know I am and show Hannah how to handle such matters with grace.

The words stung. I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong, but I actually started to question myself. I hated feeling as though I’d just been labeled as an unfit parent, even if it was by people I didn’t even know and will likely never see again.
I know I’m a damn good mother. That’s why I sincerely never thought I’d be on the receiving end of a look like that. But that’s because I tend to underestimate the power of self-righteous indignation.

We all do it. We all pass judgment, probably on a daily basis, and we feel justified for it because we know that others do it to us. I think many of us live by the “do unto others” rule and keep our snark to ourselves, but I think perhaps we need to reach a little deeper.
Why can’t we speak to each other out of love? Why can’t we extend some grace in those vital moments?

If the man had truly been concerned, he could’ve simply said, “Hey, just making sure you’ve got your eye on her” and chosen a route of compassion. He’d obviously misread the situation. He’d pulled around the corner at just the right moment to make an uninformed and rash judgment on a tired mama who protects her babies far better than he’ll ever know.
I know what he thinks of me doesn’t matter, but his mistake did teach me something. How many mistakes like that have I made? How many times have I spoken too harshly when I could have responded in love? When have I glared when I should have smiled?

That mom with the unruly kids in the grocery store. That driver who cuts us off in traffic. That angry customer on the other end of the telephone.
The truth is we could all use some compassion and kindness in our lives. Especially the strangers whose paths only cross ours for a moment. We only get one brief chance to love them.

Today's post is a linkup with Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop.

Mama’s Losin’ It