Tuesday, February 1, 2011

I judge you. You judge me.

I judge you.  And try really really hard not to!

You know how they say hate/prejudice are ignorance?  I think it's true.

I never really considered it seriously (or realized I was a party to it) until I recognized that, due to misinformation and misunderstanding, I was making a lot of assumptions and subsequently passing judgment on some behaviors and choices that other mothers make - and that other mothers were doing the same to me and to each other.  And I still do it - I don't think there's any way around it.  There's that bit of distrust, and I think we're all sizing each other up - not necessarily in a competitive way (though what is it with girls and women being each others' worst enemies?!?), as I think sometimes it's deciphering whether we can really trust someone to support us.  My judgments have become less harsh and my opinions much less black and white as I've gotten more and more experience as a mom, but still they persist.

In any case, any time I find myself thinking anything along the lines of "wow.  What a different choice/attitude from mine, I'm not sure I'm comfortable with that" (ok, it's often more strongly-worded in my inner dialogue!) I try consciously to give that person (and in this case I guess I'm talking about mothers/parents) the benefit of the doubt.  What might I not know about that person?  What sorts of things might lead me to make that same choice?

Sometimes I don't come up with an answer at all - and recognition that I don't have the answers and could stand to learn something would be fairly literally "open-minded," right?  It seems to be a good way for me to get out of that head space of disagreement or judgment.  I'm an optimist in the sense of believing people are inherently good.  I think this doubly for parents and especially mothers (I keep asking myself here "why especially mothers?"  This seems like a judgment/assumption in itself, but I haven't parsed it out yet...).  What parent doesn't want the absolute best for their child(ren)?  Aside from egregious offenses, I would like to think there is common ground to be had amongst parents, and that we all do the absolute best we can with what we know and what resources are available to us.  And time is a very valuable resource - time to cook, time to deal with a tantrum, time to contemplate our options, time to ourselves, etc.  Sometimes the best choice is the easiest and quickest path, or the one that just happens without effort because we just can't slow down and make a conscious choice right then!

You judge me?

I often think people judge me as judgmental because of the way we live and eat.  Frankly, I'm at times jealous of you who can eat quickly-prepared inexpensive food on a regular basis while we arrange much of our lives around shopping for, preparing, eating, and cleaning up after meals!  Every time someone expresses guilt over the way they eat, I feel a pang of guilt and terror over my personal health risks.

Yes, I end up living a very earthy, healthful, wonderful, creative life.  I have no complaints, generally-speaking.  I'm glad, in a way, that I have been pressed by things out of my control to live like this.

The long and short of it is - I have a double whammy.  My mom died at a very young age (45) of a heart attack (which raises my risk of heart disease/heart attack), and my kidney disease further raises my risk of heart disease (plus all the other fun possibilities with kidneys that may one day give out).

Eating processed foods and not exercising doesn't seem like an option; it is an almost-measurable risk to me because of all my risk factors.  And I've experienced first-hand the devastation of losing a parent much too early.  If there is one thing from my childhood that I do not want for my children, it is to experience that loss and all its aftermath.  If I had to pick one goal for myself, it would be to live to see my children become parents.

So I'm not making my own unsalted and unsweetened peanut butter because I think I'm better than you or because I think store-bought peanut butter is going to kill us all.  On the contrary, I'm making it because your kidneys are better than mine!  And because I'm frugal to a fault.

Is Judging Bad?
The Beast and I talked about whether judging is a bad thing.  We decided that it's not inherently bad - we evaluate options and make choices all the time! - but that, in the case of evaluating other people's parenting decisions in particular (or really even our own, since recommendations/available information are constantly changing and the results of our decisions won't really be obvious for possibly a couple of decades), it is exceedingly difficult to make accurate judgments!

Even in clearer cases where "x is best,"  all our "best" choices have to be weighed against potential costs.

I mean, we eat mostly whole foods, but I like cake.  And enjoyment is a good thing, too!  What would be the point of growing old without enjoying myself?  So I am going to enjoy my cake and bring a little chocolate joy to my life without thinking I'm "bad" for not eating a whole food.  Totally lame example, but it's late and I'm tired.  Suffice it to say that I've gone against what is "best" well beyond a slice of chocolate cake!  But now I really want Boston Cream Pie.  *drool*

Photo Credit:  steakpinball on Flickr

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