Wounds turn into scars and scars make you tough. ~Aisha Tyler
Everyone knows the old saying, “Don’t judge a book …” Even though it’s true, sometimes it’s hard not to make our own assumptions. I know me personally, I’ve been on the receiving end of judgement, and even though I’d like to think I’m not a judgmental person, I’m sure I’m equally as guilty. I don’t hold grudges but sometimes stories need to be told to learn from them.
Like what? When Kyle was a baby, even until present day, I’ve had strangers give me stares and accusatory looks, assuming I’m a single parent. Yes! All true, no exaggeration. I noticed, but never gave it much thought, nor did I hold it against anyone. Why waste energy worrying over something that didn’t matter? Also, why dwell on the negative? Not worth it at all. In fact, I tried to look at my situation from the opposing point-of-view.
Let me give a single example and set the stage. At the time, I was a young single gal, who looked even younger still, sporting a five month old baby in a papoose, walking around the mall like an unemployed mall rat. The reality was, I was about twenty-five years old, working two jobs, in college finishing up my marketing degree, and taking care of my nephew because his dad, my brother, recently passed away about two months prior. Reality verses assumption, big difference!
Once, this very inaccurate judgement happened while at SeaBase, in Greensburg. SeaBase is a local indoor child’s play area, where the youngsters run around, play on climbing walls, jump among padded floors and walls, and take a swing at goofy golf, that sort thing. We actually held Kyle’s fifth birthday there. During this particular period in my life, I was working a lot, and consequently I was always completely exhausted. Plus, I was back in college working on my fine art’s degree in graphic design. Did I mention, I was also taking care of my wonderful nephew too? On one particular day, I wanted to do something fun with Kyle, as my dad would say, “To get the stink blowed off him.” and let him get out and have fun. Kyle was about two years old and needed to socialize, and do something different to break up his repetitive day. Seabase.
I remember the situation perfectly. It was a rainy cold mid-day, during the week, hence why I chose an indoor activity. There were no words to express just how drained I truly was, and the rhythm of the rainfall didn’t help my cause. Why did I go? I knew Kyle needed to get out, he really did. He needed to stretch his legs and run around and burn off some energy, something of a luxury for him. If I didn’t step up, then he would have missed out. More importantly, I was long overdue to spend some quality time with my little man and give him my utmost attention. You know, instead of hanging with him while multitasking.
While we were playing in a pit full of colorful plastic balls, I started to doze off. Yikes! I couldn’t help myself. Not to mention, my appearance was a bit rough, looking like I just rolled out of bed. Once I was able to pinch myself hard enough to keep my eyelids from drooping, something caught my eye and I saw things clearly. Please note, this wasn’t that long after Ryan’s passing, which still felt like it just happened, much like it does presently. So yes, I’m sure depression played a big roll for my lack of energy, and unconcern for my attire and overall physical appearance. I didn’t care, my only concern was Kyle’s happiness.
What happened? Well, first let ME pass judgement. I was in close proximity to a few stay at home moms, who no doubt didn’t have to work and were able to get a good nights rest to really participate and enjoy their children. Yeah, those women actually gave me glares. Granted, they never did say a word to me, but it was evident in their caddy whispers and stares in my direction what they were saying. Again, I’m sure I looked a lot younger than I was, and I know I appeared as unemployed, and I’m absolutely positive I seemed like a neglectful parent, trying to catch a few zzz’s in the plastic balls with a small child at my side graving for my attention. Regardless, the situation wasn’t as it appeared.
Even though my scars were not visible, they were clearly there. Did those unaware individuals bother me? Not really, the only thing that aggravated me was my lack of energy for Kyle. As long as Kyle never felt the passive aggressive judging demeanor of others, I never gave it a second thought until now.
Being on the receiving end of judgement, I can see how this type of unspoken treatment could effect someone, especially being in a delicate state like I was. But again, I never let it get to me. Also at the time, we were dealing with Kyle’s medical issues, alarmingly his ears (ear infections) and bouts of pneumonia, croup, sinus infections etc. That’s the main reason I had to get Kyle out that very day. Regardless of my own fatigue, Kyle wasn’t sick and I wanted him to take advantage of his health and share in his happiness.
I could go on, but I won’t, there’s no point. Plus, I’m sure there were many more instances that I didn’t even catch. I’d like to think someone saw me, and instead of making assumptions for my situation, they said a prayer for me instead, or more importantly for Kyle.
What made me think of this? I passed SeaBase the other day and it just came to me. I had a lot of great memories there, mostly when I was energized and could hang with Kyle. However, it only takes one time, and that one in particular, I felt horrible for not giving Kyle my fullest energy potential and my undivided attention (actually any attention).
I know Kyle never remembered and if he did, he probably could care less, but I do. I love my buddy!
So let that be a lesson, everyone is fighting their own battles, don’t judge.