I wish I was less judgmental. Try as I might, I let that little "know it all voice" creep in, putting my sanctimonious values and priorities on others. Of course I do this silently, or might say something to my older daughter or husband, never directly judging. I just did this on Saturday to my friend. She came down to the competition later in the day, but didn't know her daughter was doing a solo competition. She ended up arriving just after her daughter was done and missed it. I'm thinking to myself, and then Sunday out loud to DH, "How would you not know your kid is doing this!" My friend does not work out of the house (the story another long judgemental opportunity for me), so of course, I also put that tone in my thoughts. "It's not like she has other distractions." Admittedly, I felt my judgmental thoughts cringe worthy.
Jump to later Sunday when I ran into my niece in the grocery store. I haven't talked one on one, with undivided attention with my niece since September. We had at least 20 minutes in the tea and coffee aisle. She was flustered, needing to get a few things to tied her over as even though she is having grocery delivery, it wasn't coming until Thursday and she hadn't planned well the week before. She shared that she is going to home school her 11 year old for a while because the school just isn't supportive enough with the mental health challenges her son is having. Her youngest clings to her when home, and she feels like some days she has no energy left for herself. Grief hits in waves, but she is always first attending to the kids needs. This time in the grocery store alone, was her reprieve.
Cut forward and she was a few people ahead of me in the next check out lane. I gave a brief wave as she left, then started unloading my cart. I heard, "Mam, you forgot this." Here the bagger was holding her purse that she had left in her cart. She gave me a quick look of a sigh, took the purse and left the store. I over heard the person behind her say, "What, that's a dumb mistake. Good thing we're all honest." to which the cashier, not a kid I might add, said, "I know right. She was scattered."As I was leaving, a woman coming in asked me if I dropped a mitten. It was a nice thick blue mitten, dropped right where the last cart would have been put back on that side, the door my niece left. "No, but I know whose it is." I got the glove and she said, "You'd think someone would notice on a day like this they didn't have one of their mittens."
Mama bear wanted to come out to her, to the cashier, to the other customer. I wanted to shout that she has more important things on her mind than a mitten, being scattered checking out her groceries, and even her purse. I wanted to tell them she has an 11 year old and 6 year old who are scared of losing another parent, and whose grandpa also is being treated for cancer. I didn't of course, but in my short drive home, I realized I am no different, no better at being judgey when I know nothing about the situation.
I know there is a lot of backstory before I knew my friend, that I will never fully understand, and it's not my business to need to. It's my business to be her friend now. It's not useful to tell myself I would do things differently when I see or read a train wreck decision, but it could be mine to respond to requests for help or at least provide words of encouragement. On this, I must not try to do better. I must do better, and give support instead of hypercritical thought.