I was judged yesterday.
I know that this is nothing new, I have been judged repeatedly over many years, but yesterday it made me really stop and think.
Yesterday I was judged over grapes.
Yes, that is correct, grapes. The little green things, kind of oblong shaped, sweetish in taste, dried to make sultanas/currants/raisins... Grapes. Green Seedless Grapes.
I took the girls out to my parents for a couple of days to let them have some quality time during the holidays and Miss Bella and I ducked into the local supermarket to pick up a few bits and pieces... you know, holiday essentials, crisps, lemonade, ice cream etc. We were walking through the fruit and veg section to get to the important stuff and Bella spied the green grapes, sitting there, glistening so sweetly in the afternoon sun.
Immediately her taste buds were fixated. "Mamma, can I get some grapes with the $10 Grandad gave me? I just LOVE grapes and I promise I will share them with Grandad."
Well, who was I to say no? Here's my little 6 year old daughter begging and pleading, in the midsts of our junkfood extravaganza, for grapes. So, naturally, my answer was "Of course you can sweetheart."
This was about when the pink haird kook harrumphed at my baby girl and literally snatched the grapes out of her hand. "You can't eat those! They're from the U.S. of A!"
I drew in a deep breath, picked up the bag of grapes, handed them back to Bella and as calmly as I could manage, turned around and said "No one locally has grapes available at the moment. They are a fresh fruit, she likes them, so if she wants to eat them, I am not going to stop her."
Which is when I got told that the problem with the world is parents like me, because I don't instill a sense of importance in my children, I don't teach them about supporting the businesses that support us. I will buy anything I want because I want it, without regard of who is harmed in the process.
I gave her about a minute while we weighed out our grapes and then I walked away, but as I neared the deli at the other end of the store I could still hear her banging on.
A very kind hearted and sympathetic store employee offered reassurance by telling me that she is always that opinionated and vocal, and not to let it upset me... but the whole situation really made me stop and think as I was driving home.
Every day, in all of society around me, I see people being judged. I open Facebook and I see post after post of people judging each other.
People who see a snapshot of another persons life and for some inexplicable reason feel justified that that brief moment gives them the right to judge another person in their entirety... to condemn their lifestyle, to insult their decisions, or perhaps even just to insult the person themselves... all the while not knowing anything more than what can be seen with a quick cursory glance.
I have been the person on the receiving end of the judgement... I have felt the stares, heard the condemnation and experienced the criticism.
I have been the parent who was frustrated at a crying baby because I was so incredibly, extremely exhausted and overwhelmed that all I wanted to do was cry, but instead I was out in society because I had other children who needed to be distracted, groceries that needed to be bought and bills that needed to be paid.
I have been the one who walked in to the store and spent Centerlink money on something completely not child related. It doesn't mean that I am a bad parent or that I am neglecting my children... it just meant that every other week when I spent every spare cent on making sure my children had what they needed, I felt that it would be ok for once to splash out on something that I couldn't otherwise justify or afford for myself.
I have been the 'fat chick' in the line up at the supermarket with a trolley full of frozen items that would probably under normal circumstances never actually meet the actual criteria for food, let alone food like substances... I have been tutted at, and been on the receiving end of bad looks and harsh comments because my poor children were being neglected and headed for a life of obesity... yet none of those doing the tutting or the commenting had any realisation at all of what was happening in my life or why I was doing what I was doing.
I have been the one with the messy house, the sink full of dishes and the laundry full of clothing who has friends that shy away because they can't handle being in a house where chaos rules supreme.
I have been the one who has comforted my children when they are overlooked for party invites and play dates because we don't meet some unwritten code of what is socially acceptable and what is not.
I have been judged on choices, on appearances, on decisions, on purchases, on words... yet every time it has been a judgement based on just a brief snapshot of my life.
It has been this judgement that makes me want to be different... I want to think the best of people, to not automatically assume the worst because, just like those who look in on my life, all they see is a snapshot and not a real picture.
Once upon a time it took a village to raise a child, people helped each other out and offered support and compassion, yet now, it seems like it is every Mamma for herself and heaven help you if you dare to deviate from the perfect parenting that society has come to expect from us.
Parenting is not about perfection, it is about love. Parenting runs much deeper than cloth nappies, breastfeeding, organic diets and income sources. Parenting is about learning what is important, then taking those things and savouring them. Parenting is about teaching our children these lessons in life, molding and sculpting them into wonderful, loving, giving, gracious people.
Perhaps this outlook is one that comes with having been dragged through hell and back, or perhaps there is some other mysterious force at play... but I have figured out this much.
In years to come, my children aren't going to remember if I packed the dishwasher or if there was washing in the laundry... but they will remember that we did cartwheels in the yard, we chased butterflies and we grew pretty flowers in the garden.
My children aren't going to remember if I cooked them a perfectly nutritious meal that was fat free, sugar free, wheat free, grain free, soy free, preservative free, additive free, and made only from 100% biodynamic organic produce... but they will remember the happy love party where we had lemonade, ice cream and bubble bath's for breakfast.
They aren't going to be emotionally damaged because Mamma did something for herself once a year.
God willing, the flip side of this is that I can raise children who see the good in the world, not the negative... that despite the rocky beginnings my children will grow into kind, gracious, loving creatures who treat others as they want to be treated, who learn to not judge a book by it's cover...
After all, sometimes the least desirable cover can contain the most amazing stories.