Wednesday, September 16

Judgey McJudgerton

Women judge each other. I don't know why, but we do. We see someone, and we judge. For better or worse, good or bad, ugly or kind, we pass judgment.

"She is carrying his cajones around on a short leash."

"Those are some seriously cute shoes. She's got good taste."

"That lady apparently has money to burn."

"She couldn't control her kids if they were in a cage."

"She has got it together way more than I ever could."

I'm as guilty as anybody of doing it. I see somebody, I think stuff. Like, for example, the moms at dance class. I have a big ol' opinion of everybody based on like 1% of their life. That one little hour they spend in the waiting room at the dance place each week is all I have, but in my head I think I have it all figured out.

There used to be a mom (we started a new session a while ago and I haven't seen her since) who made me nuts. NUTS. She was loud. Very loud. She spent the entire hour loudly bitching about her kids, one of whom was in the class and the other of whom was right there with her, except that the little one wasn't actually with her so much as it was running around like a crazed lunatic, usually chewing on used tissues it found in the trash and standing on top of a chair while launching toys at the windows. Really. It made me absolutely crazy that the lady didn't even try to control her kid, and even crazier that she would go on and on and on about horribly annoying her kids were.

I judged her. And, I had a whole story in my head to explain her behavior.

I figured that she was probably a stay-at-home mom who didn't get many chances to get time for herself. She was trying to make the most of that hour when one of her kids was fully entertained and the other was basically locked in a safe(ish) room. She needed to vent to somebody who would listen, and there are no better listeners than a room full of women who have no choice but to be a captive audience.

In short, as much as she drove me nuts, I felt kinda bad for her.

Now, I know I'm not the only one in that dance place who is sitting there making assumptions and passing judgment. I know it because I saw the lady who drove me nuts do it one day. I mean, I physically watched her size another mom up and come to all sorts of conclusions in her head.

Nutso Lady was sitting there, loudly going on and on like she pretty much always did. If you just listened to her words, you would think she was the most confident woman going. She was going on and on about how This Place was the best place to have a kid's birthday party, even though her kid was horribly behaved when they were there and blah, blah, blah. She was at her loudest and giving off her best I-Know-It-All vibes just as another mom came walking in the door.

The Other Mom was one who hadn't been there before. Her daughter was pretty new to the class, and in previous weeks a grandparent had been the one to escort her to class. The Other Mom came walking in, towards what I would guess was her father-in-law, while continuing with a cellphone conversation that seemed it might have been going on for a while. Nutso Lady paused in her conversation as The Other Mom walked by, just long enough to listen in on the phone call and figure out the scoop.

The Other Mom was a doctor. She was talking to her answering service. As she walked up to her father-in-law, she hung up the phone and vented about how parents always waited until the end of the day to call about their kids' illnesses.

You could feel the air getting sucked out of the room as the Nutso Lady observed The Other Mom. Suddenly, she who had been so confident and so loud very obviously felt uncomfortable. I'm no mind reader, but I could see the difference in Nutso Lady's face. She had judged The Other Mom, found her to be incredibly intelligent and well put-together, and decided she herself wasn't good enough.

She didn't say another word the rest of the class. In the weeks that followed, she was loud and boisterous any time The Other Mom wasn't there, but would be quiet when she was.

Alexis, my dear, woman judge. It's just a fact of life. You need to try to be fair in your judgments and know that you don't have the whole story. Most importantly, I want you to know one thing--it's not fair to ever judge yourself, especially if you're going to judge yourself inferior.

31 comments:

  1. What a great piece of advice - "it's not fair to ever judge yourself, especially if you're going to judge yourself inferior"!

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  2. Great post! That's funny because I came to a very similar set of judgements about this lady and her cohort when I met them and I wasn't as kind as you were. I saw one of them at the grocery store yesterday and I had a Vietnam-like flash back and almost ran in the other direction. :) Definitely something I need to work on.

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  3. Yep, great post.

    I wish we were all a little nice to each other, even in our own heads.

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  4. Women judge, all right! The question is WHY? It is always something that has bothered me. Then, last week, with Dylan starting preschool in a somewhat "rich" area, I found myself doing it. I plan to write a post about it.

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  5. Thank you for writing this. It's sad that we women feel compelled to judge. We all do it, even when we try really hard not to. I appreciate the way you are able to be open to the possibility that the person you choose to judge may have a legit reason for being the way she is. It's a battle to reckon with. I try to say I am sitting outside of judgment on this one, and just try to be with the moment. Tricky!

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  6. @Dina--There is a reason that Mr. Husband calls me "Public Defender" all the time. I can make excuses for anybody for just about any behavior. The only catch is that once you truly irritate me, there is no going back.

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  7. How strange that she reacts differently based on the presence of someone she doesn't even know. That's very sad, actually.

    I think we all judge - it's human. But what bothers me is when the judging turns to ill treatment or scorn or general douchebaggery.

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  8. I try not to judge but it seems to be so easy to do sometimes. Yesterday I was met with all sorts of rude behavior and I really tried to give everyone of them the benefit of the doubt (I, too, am a Public Defender of sorts - My husband always gripes about other drivers and I always, always defend them). Then that guy told me people should have puppies instead of babies and I really wanted to deck him except I didn't have a free hand - since they were BOTH holding a child. Anyhow, that was fantastic advice to give Alexis...and any woman.

    No one can make you feel inferior without your permission - Eleanor Roosevelt

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  9. Well said. We're all guilty. And why do we allow someone's pay scale to dictate their ranking? Why do we think doctors and lawyers are so much better than secretaries or gas station attendants or stay-at-home moms?

    Self worth. It's sometimes a hard thing to keep hold of with any certainty.

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  10. Maybe that's her children's doctor. :-)

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  11. @3carnations--It's not. I have confirmed this fact.

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  12. I agree with those who said this is a great post. We do judge other people..sometimes without even realizing what we are doing. My mom always used to tell me, "Put yourself in his/her shoes" and she always did...coming up with a reason he or she was like they were. In other words, she tried to get us to see the world from their perspective. Usually it worked and it made us stop and think..."Maybe that person isn't really that bad."

    Either way...this post got me thinking (just like my mom always did. Wow. You ARE a mom now. :-)

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  13. well said...
    Women do.
    i have to say though, I've really tried to keep this in check. I feel that, as raising a girl, I really need to. It is hard for girls, out there... *sigh*

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  14. Very well said. I really hope my daughters grow up capable of not comparing themselves to other women. Especially since I haven't fully grasped it yet.

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  15. We are trained to do it from a very young age. It's that or you cut out all of our tongues. The first woman who says she has never done that is the biggest liar. We all do it from time to time. Some just seem to make a life of it. I think I'm one of them. I do try to keep my mouth shut about it in public though. I never could stand that bullying-teen thing of standing together and pointing. Sadly, some adults never outgrow that crap.

    I'd like to have "She couldn't control her kids if they were in a cage" on a t-shirt though. :)

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  16. That is a great post - a reminder we could all use from time to time.

    (But it's still okay to be all judgey about football players, right??)

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  17. A good reminder, I am definitely guilty of judging stay-at-home moms.

    Dance class has to be the worst - every week Juliana would get so excited to go to dance and then freak out when we got there and she had to actually go in the room. But I knew she would be fine once she was in there - it was just walking through the door each week that was the issue. So I would put her in the room and close the door as she was in tears and turn around to see the horrified faces of the other moms that I would force this upon my child. I know that's what they were thinking because after a few weeks of this one of them said something to me about how she does seem to be happy in class once she gets in there.

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  18. @Jennifer--I have the EXACT same battle. Once Alexis is in, she LOVES the class and listens incredibly intently. We have to get through the door, though. It's so fun knowing that others are thinking I'm forcing her to be there when it's the furthest thing from true. She wants to be there soooo bad, but she gets hit with a moment of shy and freaks out.

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  19. I'm guessing that's not going to happen with Miss A. Just a hunch...

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  20. You sure this post is for Alexis? I could SWEAR you meant to put MY name in there :) Great piece of advice and one I shall try my hardest to incorporate into my own life when it comes to judging myself.

    That? Is a great picture!

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  21. Guilty on both counts I'm afraid...

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  22. Ok. I am DYING to scrapbook your photos of Alexis. DYING!! You have so many good ones.

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  23. (waving hand!!) Guilty as charged :(
    We've actually nicknamed a co-worker "Judgy McJudgerson". That fact that it 'takes one to know one' is a hard, but necessary, pill to swallow...and I appreciate the much needed reminder.

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  24. @Beth--Dude, I'd totally let you. Other than our Disney trip earlier this year, I have never printed any photos. I bought scrapbook stuff, but never really got started.

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  25. Great post. And the awesomest picture ever!

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  26. Wow. What a great post. It is so very true, but that last piece? That last little sentence? Yeah - that one stung. It's so very true of so many of us.

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  27. Jill Krivanek1:43 PM

    Awesome post. The last sentence....exactly what I would want to say to Taylor.

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  28. See, I have absolute TONS of scrapbook stuff, but no babies to scrapbook.

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  29. But isn't the judging fun during those idle dull moments? I personally like making up stories in my head about the people I am surrounded with during random times, grocery store lines, target, judging what they are buying!

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  30. Hmm ... My problem is that I make snap judgments about people which are 99% accurate, and involve my internal monologue saying something like "total waste of oxygen."

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  31. THAT is one shocking example of judgment, both of herself and the doctor-woman. First- she judges herself and decides she's not good enough. Second- she judges the doctor-woman and decides that the doctor-woman thinks that she (herself) isn't good enough. Which in reality, the doctor woman probably has her own self-esteem hangups because HELLO? WE ALL DO.

    I try to remind myself of that when I'm feeling less-than-good-enough: nobody is better (or worse!) than me. Just different. And I truly hope that I can teach Maggie the same thing.

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