I didn’t think I was judgmental. I just thought I was right.
Motherhood has cured me of a lot of that. Before I had kids, I had a lot of certainties about parenting. I was a much better mother before I actually had kids, as a matter of fact. Turns out that kids haven’t read the manual, either, and don’t always do what the experts say they will do. (Also? Nothing like having children to hold up a gigantic magnifying glass to highlight your imperfections.)
But even beyond motherhood, just walking through life with open eyes and ears has made me realize how judgmental I am. Was. Am trying not to be.
When I was a teenager, “secular” music (that is, music that was not religious or “sacred”) was a sin. We good Christian girls did not listen to it, nor did we hang out with people who did. (I made an exception for Olivia Newton-John. The music, not the person. Why am I confessing this?) But then I met a really nice guy at Taco Time where I worked–I can’t remember his name–but he was a big Motley Crue fan. Maybe his name was Steve. We laughed a lot and I realized that he–a heavy metal fan–was just a person like me. Not scary, but funny. And kind and a good worker.
When I’m driving, a slow driver or a weaving car will cause me to shout, “YOU IDIOT!” (I know.) My daughter will say, “Mom, just because it’s slow doesn’t mean it’s an idiot.” She’s right, of course. I judge because I cannot speed. Dumb and unfair and a terrible example to my kids. And what if that person ends up at the same place I’m going and we look into each other’s eyes and I realize what a jerk I am?
I tend to think that my preferences should be dictates. Ask my long-suffering husband who likes to point out that I have about a million rules for living. For example, no tattoos allowed unless you are a military man or a rock star. And then I think of sweet friends who have tattoos and who am I to judge? I am so quick to dismiss trends and ideas and people who don’t fit into my tidy little world view. And how offensive am I? Judging someone for something that ultimately doesn’t matter at all?
I used to shrink back when someone different entered my orbit. How could we coexist with such different ideas about the world? And then, I’d catch a glimpse into that other life and discover the similarities beyond the walls.
Of course, I have definite ideas of things. I will never get a tattoo. I won’t have my nose pierced or dye my hair purple. I have no interest in rap music or understanding Kurt Cobain’s lyrics. I intend to stay married until I die to the same man (lucky guy). It’s unlikely that I will ever drink alcohol. I have no plans to start cursing (much) and I will never, ever find the movie “Borat” funny. I’d like all boys to wear their hair short and all girls not to call boys on the phone. In my world, no one has sex outside of marriage and teenagers don’t use the ‘f-word’ on their Facebook pages.
I try to balance on this teeter-totter of ideas and peculiarities and particularities. I have every right to sort through issues and trivial matters and decide what I think. We all do. But I find that I like people who aren’t on my teeter-totter at all, people who free-wheel through life with green mohawks and those weird discs in their earlobes and an interest in remote African politics. Hey, it takes all kinds! Who am I to judge? I like those people, even liberals and people who think abortion is a valid choice and people who like to watch Star Trek. (Most of them, anyway. Some of them just get on my nerves and there’s nothing I can really do about that. That’s the truth. I never claimed to be perfect.)
I totally believe in absolute right and wrong. Some things are always right. Some things are always wrong. But there is an ocean floating between those two island and that’s where most of us bob. At least that’s what I think tonight.
Answer: I have absolutely no idea. (Question: Why are you writing about this tonight?)