Judgment has been on my mind alot the last couple days. The way people judge other people. I mean of course a certain amount of judgment has to exist in every day life. We decide who we want to be friends with by judging their qualities, faults and what they have in common with us. We judge what family we talk to, stay in touch with or spend the holidays with based on....several factors too complicated to explain here. But there are worse kinds of judgment. I am not going to jump feet first into topics as complicated and sensitive as race, sexual orientation or religion here today, but instead I want to talk about judging others as parents.
A little background on me first: I am the youngest of 4 children born to two of (possibly) the most ill equipped parents ever. These two people should never have had children together. One of them probably shouldn't have had children period, but if she hadn't, I wouldn't be here and neither would my two beautiful children. I love my parents both. They are both very different, very flawed and very wounded. My mother was an alcoholic long before I came into the world, and my father was an undiagnosed (therefor unmedicated) Bi-Polar with serious anger, abandonment and woman issues. Ya, theres a perfect storm of disfunction for you!
I was born 4 years after my older sister who we will call M and 5 years after my other sister, E and nearly 10 years after my brother J. Can anyone say "Condom Broke?!" Anyway, from a very early age, it became clear to everyone that M just didn't like me. She actually downright hated me, but no one labeled it that for some time yet. Starting (accroding to my parents) from the time I could talk, she looked at me like she wouldn't piss on me if I were on fire. Actually, she looked at me like she wanted to SET me on fire. Pure disgust.
Years passed, and her hatred seemed to only grow. She was abusive, physically and also emotionally. I don't have a single memory of her playing or talking with me, or doing anything nice. I remember her pretending I didn't exist, or being violent and mean. More years passed, and a time came where it was just my dad and I in the house. My parents had divorced, my brother had left home, and my sisters were either living with my mom or away at college. When I was 15, I became pregnant with my daughter who we will call L. (If you dont know her name, you dont know me, and probably shouldnt be reading my blog, lol) I think in that moment, time stopped for M. I never aged in her mind passed that point. I was forever 15.
In the last 7 years since my daughter was born, I have come under fire for my parenting choices by M more times and in more ways than I can count. Constant judgment to the point that I couldn't defend my choices to even strangers, because I felt so beaten down, judged and just wrong about every decision I made. In 7 years, CPS was called on me 6 times. The claim was always neglect, and the reporter was always my sister M. She listed reasons such as "L never has clothes that match. She wears things that don't go together. Sarah doesn't do her hair or dress her like a girl. She neglects her and doesn't let her family see her. Sarah forces L to take naps at what is now an inappropriate age just to keep L from having fun and being a kid. Sarah wants her to nap because she is lazy and wants to sleep in the middle of the day."
Let me go through this. L likes to dress herself, and she had a definite tomboy phase. No hairclips, ponytails or headbands, no dresses pretty shoes or pink. And DEFINITELY nothing that matched. What is wrong with a child dressing herself in clean clothes that fit, just because they dont "go together"? And napping? She is referring to an incident when L was 5 and Jackson was just a baby. He was napping and L was told her lay in bed and read, or nap herself. I was caring for an infant and a 5 year old BY MYSELF! How is it abuse or neglect to want her to read quietly or nap while the baby is sleeping, so I can clean, shower and maybe just maybe nap myself, and so that she doesn't wake her brother???
The point here, is that everyone in the world raises their child differently. There is a stark difference between not agreeing with someone's parenting choices and calling them neglectful. I have never been accused of abuse. I don't even spank my children. I just don't raise them the way she would raise hers. Oh, and just a little fact here. She has ONE child who just turned 2. That means for 5 years she was reporting me, without ever having had a child of her own.
Does she really believe I am neglectful? Maybe. But all of this judgment, spite and malice has to come from a deeper place than that. The hurt she has inflicted on my family, the emotional scars she has left will never completely go away. The memory of all the investigations, intimate questions and prying eyes will always be there. The doubt she instilled in me instead of confidence, for so long, about my ability to raise my daughter will always be there somewhere in the back of my mind. Still, when I get a text from her or a phone call, I feel sick to my stomach.
How can people be so careless, cruel and hurtful? How can one person be so wreckless with someone else's life, their younger sister none the less?
Being a parent is hard. It is hard in ways I cannot even describe or explain. It is a constant uphill battle to ensure your child's physical and emotional well being. It is a challenge and nobody is perfect at it. If anyone had all the answers, they would make millions on their book. But someone would always be there to disagree. Isn't that what makes us all so different and special? We all come from different people, different places and were raised in different ways. Extend love, not judgment. Offer support to those that are struggling rather than knocking them down even further. Nothing good comes of this cycle of hate and judgment and close mindedness. Love your children. Love your family. And if you can't love your family, for the love of God, leave them alone.
"You have your way, and I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way and the only way, it does not exist." -Friedrich Neitzsche