If you read any so-called mommyblogs - heck, if you read any new media whatsoever - you are bound to come across an essay here or there about how us moms need to be gentler with each other. More gentle, less judgmental. Usually the article will make some version of the point that all of us are doing our very best, and needless criticism, holier-than-thou opinions, and general negativity isn't helping any of us parent any better.
Agreed. WHOLLY AGREED.
But I have this problem. No matter how supportive, affirming, and positive my mom friends are, there is always going to be that one person who will pronounce the icy words of judgement on my most recent parenting efforts. When at the end of the day I review the high and low points and, let's face it, start to obsess over the 'distinctly low', there is always the one individual I can count on to remember every profanity [accidentally] uttered, every pointless accusation I threw at my small offspring, even my failure to provide nutritious and/or balanced meals. Remember? Remember how you served mac n' cheese TWICE today? With HOT DOGS?!?!
That reliable individual is always me.
There is a simple name for what I pour upon the ash-heap of my day's failures: condemnation.
What a loaded word, condemnation. When I say it out loud I can't escape instant associations with over-zealous televangelists, with loud pronouncements from an anonymous pulpit, with memories of The Scarlet Letter in the 10th grade.
Fascinating, that I instantly have such, well, condemnatory associations with the word condemnation. Doesn't stop me from doing it. Honestly, I wouldn't dream of judging others in my community with the same words I use for myself. Not others in my church, not others in my neighborhood, not even the mom I see in Target hauling off and smacking her two year old upside the head. (Okay, I don't have kind words in my heart for this woman, but at the very least I have an element of compassion for what I perceive to be her 'limited disciplinary toolbox.' Me? I know better.)
It has to stop, this judging. As I said at the beginning: none of this negativity is helping me parent any better. In the immortal words of Yoda: Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. Condemnation encompasses all of that fear, anger and hate, and yes: it leads to pointless and unproductive suffering.
Condemnation is the absence of compassion. Can I really justify withholding compassion for the mother of my kids? When you put it that way.... I guess not.
I've written about Condemnation today as part of the One Word at a Time blog carnival, and I am grateful that I waited to write it until having read some of the other posts on the subject. It wasn't until I read other posts that I realized just how damaging my thought patterns are, how limiting my judgement is, and how universally all the bloggers who've posted seem accept that to live in love, we cannot live in a spirit of condemnation. For anyone.