Empathy over Evaluation

“The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.”.jpg

 

Jiddu Krishnamurti said

“The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.”

As complicated humans this takes more practice than you would think. We’re a species with a broad range of emotions and thoughts that tends to see the world in black and white, good and bad, right and wrong. How can we be so complex but think that there is only one right way to do anything? Why do we end up thinking the “right way” is whatever we do?

I am so tired of seeing people self-validate their life choices by holding them up to another person’s choice and proclaiming them wrong. I’ve done this. You’ve done this. We’re all guilty of passing judgement on a situation we’ve never had to personally be involved in.

We are ALL just a couple of steps away from falling. We are  ALL a situation away from walking in the shoes that we looked at with contempt.

A lay-off away from welfare.
An illness away from bottle feeding.
An addiction away from having a wayward teen.
A death away from grief.

And on and on and on.

We can change. We can consciously decide that when presented with a situation that we’ve never been through instead of saying “That’s not what I would do!” we instead feel thankfulness we haven’t had to make that decision.

Yet.

 

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More Than ‘Mom’

More Than-Mom-.jpg

Being a Mom is simultaneously the best and most heartbreaking thing
I’ve ever done. The best because I have loved harder in the last five
years than I have my entire life. Heartbreaking because it makes me
more vulnerable than I’ve ever been (and because I’ve touched more
poop than I ever had). Before kids I thought breakups, and friend
fights, and losing a job was hard. After having a child I saw the
bigger picture. From the little things like schooling and if they were
hitting their milestones soon enough to the bigger worries and
heartbreaks like SIDS and childhood cancer, one thing was clear. I
wasn’t fully prepared for the love and anxiety that came with having
kids and I had no idea how absolutely consuming parenthood actually
was.

I realized, of course, that becoming a Mom would be life changing. I
knew that my life would be different. I had no idea, however, that
once one has children, ones life can seem to fall into a prewritten
supporting actress category. I didn’t realize that as a Mom I would be
bombarded with media telling me what I should like now (for the record
that’s wine, yoga pants, and weird wraps that supposedly suck your fat
out). I didn’t hear what the wise women were saying when they talked
about how as Mom’s we still had to take time for ourselves. It’s not
about getting a break from the kids, its about staying in touch with
who we are. When my kids were newborn I was, as we all are, consumed
with simply keeping them dry and fed. As they grow there are small
moments of down time appearing that could be used for whatever I like.
But who am I if I’m not being a Mom? Isn’t it selfish of me to want to
do things just for me when I can’t even seem to do all the things I
want to with them?

The most common anxiety for a mother is probably that she’s not enough
for her kids. Doesn’t spend enough time with them. Doesn’t play enough
with them. Doesn’t do enough crafts with them. Doesn’t tell them
enough how special they are. We spend so much time trying to stifle
this anxiety that at the end of the day we sit exhausted on the couch
thinking of all the things we could be doing.  Things like reading
that book you picked up 3 years ago, making food that isn’t cut into
bite sizes, maybe spending some time in bed with your spouse NOT
sleeping (wink-wink). Instead we take a pass and go to sleep because
we know we need the energy to do it all again tomorrow.

I’m not sure when all this mom guilt started. Probably around the time
we collectively started overthinking everything. We have a ton of
information available now giving us studies and stats on everything
from the best colors to expose newborns to how messed up kids will be
if they don’t have family dinners. There is absolutely no way to do
everything “they” say is good for your child. At some point we have to
decide that love and instinct count for something and that we ARE
doing a good job because we’re doing the best we can. That needs to
include doing the best we can for ourselves. Between work and taking
care of a home and kids we forget to take care of the person that is
holding it all together.

I am  writing today to renounce the idea that self love and
preservation as a mother is somehow selfish. Everyone will benefit
from you putting yourself first. Your kids will see that your time and
interests are as important as theirs. Your spouse will see you do the
things that drew you together in the first place. Your parenting will
be complimented by the happiness that all the things you love brings
to it. So start that garage rock band, join a political campaign, do
that art project you’ve been putting off. Take a night course. Go on a
solo vacation. Say “Yes!” to that thing in the back of your mind
whispering “I wish I could…” instead of answering with a “I can’t
because I have kids.”

It’s time to get rid of the notion that we don’t deserve “me time”
because we haven’t lived up to the expectations of some make believe
Good Parenting Checklist. It’s time to make yourself a priority
because everyone around you already thinks that you are. You are a
great Mom because you are a great person. Not the other way around.