Traveling—and later immigrating to Canada—taught me to be less judgmental. Yes, that’s a common characteristic among the French—judging people. I sometime think French are bogged down by history and never quite got over the fact they aren’t the epicentre of the so-called civilized world… but that’s a whole different topic.
We are a multicultural family and we blend our cultures, traditions and ways of living in this multicultural and diverse country. This taught me that there are many ways to live life and that no one really has a perfect instruction manual.
Do you know what else taught me to keep my thoughts to myself?
Having a baby.
The other day, I was in the bus back home, stuck between two very young mothers with strollers in front of me and another mother in the seat behind with a toddler. She was on the phone with her bank and her little girl was bugging her for attention. Eventually, she snapped “No! I’m on the phone! Drink your bottle and give me a freaking minute!”
The two mothers at the front didn’t like that. “Eh, take a chill pill!” one of them said loudly. “Take care of your baby instead of chatting on your goddamn phone!” the other added.
Like many folks, I get pretty annoyed when people in the bus conduct loud conversations on their cell. Although it can sometime be entertaining—last time, I was sitting by a blond bimbo who screamed over her phone: “I slept with ONE guy! And you cheated on me with THREE girls!”
This time, I could hear the mother trying to solve a tricky financial situation with her bank. And I couldn’t help thinking that this commute may be the only moment she had to reach the bank and deal with an issue. And while I don’t think snapping at your kid is a good idea, we all have our moments. I yelled at Mark more than once, out of frustration or tiredness. It doesn’t make it right but come on, dealing with kids is tough and no one is perfect all the time.
Don’t judge. Just don’t. Hey, for all I know, this woman may have been the best caring mother. She was just having a bad day. She doesn’t deserve to be judged by strangers in the bus. We don’t have the full story here.
Sometime, I am this “bad mother”.
Most evenings, I take Mark to the playground. I push him on the swing and supervise him on the slide. And then, I let him crawl on the grass and explore. I call it “unleashing the dragon”. We have a football field and it’s pretty clean—well as clean as grass can be. No dog poop, no garbage, just clean grass. I sit there with my BlackBerry, catching up on work emails, and Mark crawls around.
That’s exactly what we were doing when that evening, I suddenly heard: “Hey! Your baby is running away!”
I turned around to face a mother and her toddler.
“Yes, he enjoys exploring,” I said. Mark was about ten meters from me, on the empty football field.
“Well, maybe you should be paying attention to your kid instead of texting your friends!” she snapped.
I didn’t even bother replying—or putting my BlackBerry away.
What did she know about us? Did she know that I had spent the previous ten hours taking care of Mark, interacting with him, playing with him? Did she know that as a freelancer and a busy mom that was my only chance to catch up with work before the evening chores? Did she know how happy I was that Mark, the Velcro baby, was finally okay with exploring the world on his own?
Don’t judge. Just don’t. you rarely have the full picture and you will do more harm than good.