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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Don't Judge A Book By Its Cover... Or A Mom

We're all good at judging, aren't we?

I realize that no matter how hard I try, there will always be someone who doesn't understand my parenting, or our situation. And I am, for the most part, a people-pleaser -- so that makes it more difficult. But over the years, I've had situations happen -- like the one I'm about to tell you -- that have helped to teach me, that sometimes, it really doesn't matter. Some people just won't "get it." Ever. And I don't have to feel bad or beat myself up because of it.

My children were recently participants in a two-day swim meet. It was an exciting event, and Josh and Kayla had worked hard to prepare for it. They LOVE swimming and spend several hours each day working out with their team and at the YMCA.

Anyway, this long meet presented new challenges for us because of our need to keep Kayla cool. So, Jeremy stayed with Josh and our other "fans" out on deck, watching the meet -- while Kayla and I hung out in the air-conditioned "hospitality room." The room is a nice retreat for all the coaches and officials to get a drink, a bite to eat, or just a moment of quiet - away from the constant chaos of the fast-paced event.

Kayla participated in five different events, and Josh in three. In between, Kayla would dry off and we'd head for the cool sanctuary. At one point, we'd been in and out for our different events, and there was an official sitting in the corner, going over her paper-work. She frowned at me and watched Kayla sit down with her book. I wasn't quite sure if we'd invaded her space, or if she was unhappy with something else I'd done, but I tried to settle in with Kayla and read.

A few moments later, this woman stood up to leave and she glared in my direction. "Isn't it too cold in here for your swimmer?"

I tried to smile sweetly with my response, "She doesn't sweat."

Before I could explain any further, she pointed at me and scolded, "You should be keeping your swimmer warm." Mumbling under her breath, she left the room.

I felt terrible. She obviously thought I was a horrible mom for freezing my wet child in between swim events. And what made it even worse in my mind is the fact that I didn't have the chance to explain and probably never would. So she had no clue that we were trying to keep Kayla from getting TOO warm in the midst of hundreds upon hundreds of human bodies putting off body heat.

After I sank to the depths of drowning in my own self-deprecation, I had a shocking revelation. It didn't matter. She may have judged me, but it didn't change the fact that I was doing what was best for my child. She didn't have all the facts, so I couldn't expect her to understand.

It made me think about all the times I've judged people in my mind not fully knowing all the facts myself. It's a scary thing. In the grocery store, at church, at swim team. Ouch.

So my thought is this -- maybe we could all work on that this week. One person at a time, one situation at a time, one day at a time.

What do you think?