Standing distinct a few steps from the department store’s entrance, she did her best averting people’s judgemental gazes. Her smooth, well-painted face scanned for an imaginary companion, begging to hurry up so they could leave. And fast.
Her complexion glowed high income. She stood expensive. Dressed expensive. Low-wage mall loafers, like myself, would naturally admire the sight. However, a dubious depiction marred the eyes.
A silver metal chain entwines her right hand.
I thought she was guarding a dog, lest it’ll run amuck inside the aisles, tearing down the meticulous display of folded clothes and linens on white wooden racks. I followed the metal chain as it chinks and tauts. What I saw next mortified me.
The other end revealed a preoccupied toddler, a little boy at the age of one. The hook fastened at the strap of the child’s jumper.
Her pink-stained lips pursed as onlookers — streaming by the dozens to escape the humid weather outside — dawdled. Audible whispers envelope around, Hala oi kalooy sa bata! (Poor kid!)
Like the rest, I threw in a judgmental stare. How could she spend time looking rich while giving less thought about her parenting strategy in public?
My mind rewinds to the approved scenes of other mothers, who gracefully towed their kids around while shopping. Why can’t she do it that way? Do moms in my income range parent better?
When I become a parent, I would never put my child on a leash. No, the idea of it repulses me, like how your nose takes offense from the fetid stench of rotten meat.
Fast forward to a decade and my son is one and a half. I was naive to think, I had all the patience and attention to look after our toddling boy while out and about. One blink and they’re off, chasing after an object of curiosity. Eyes twinkling. Mouths drench with drool.
To answer my parenthood predicament, I bought (guess what) a mini backpack with a safety harness. Yes, a leash. Can you believe what you’ve just read?
When we went grocery shopping one day, a number of adults gave me the critical eye for my parenting faux pas. I didn’t care.
When we travelled to the Philippines and visited the mall, a number checked our way twice for putting my kid on a leash, disguised as a backpack. I brushed it off.
Who are they to judge when they aren’t’ in my situation? How laughable. The judgment is on me.
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”~ Matthew 7:1-2
How swift was I to judge others based on my perspective, my present situation, me, and not the other?
How blind was I to see my faults and weaknesses while pointing fingers at someone else’s flaws?
How quick was I to seek for the other’s understanding of my shortcomings and not extend the same?
We swiftly judge others how they parent, how they discipline, what their kids eat. That’s easy to do. Plus, there’s plenty of expert’s study online to back us up, throwing the other’s way of doing things off-kilter. All in the name of concern. Or pride. An indirect statement that says, I parent better.
Here’s the thing though,
Each of us has our unique way of doing things, but it’s not the only right way to do it.
It’s never polite to force our ideals to another’s throat, who may or may not jarringly do things differently than us. Unless, they ask. Also, the exchange must be treated with respect. And it’s up to them whether they take our advice or not. They know their family best.
When judgment tempts my brain to point fingers, I remember to extend grace. I lack information with regard to their situation. How they got to that decision. Who am I to judge? When I, myself, am full of flaws. When I, myself, needed grace the most. And when I fail, it’s okay. I can try again.