"How little do they see what really is, who frame their hasty judgment upon that which seems."
Yesterday. Yesterday I published a brief post lamenting the fact that our beloved Nanny is on vacation for the next two weeks. In that post, I wondered - somewhat seriously, somewhat in jest - whether I will be able to hack it on my own with my three babes over the next stretch of time. Honestly? It struck me as a softball musing, as nothing truly profound nor controversial. Ultimately, I wanted to clue you all in to what I'm dealing with these days and why I might have a difficult time posting with regularity over the next little while.
Boy was I wrong. Perhaps foolish, but I didn't anticipate that I would stir up such a debate. I guess I assumed that when it comes to life and parenthood we all do things differently, that there are many legitimate, if contrasting, ways to approach existence and child-rearing. Frankly, I didn't anticipate being judged for my decision to have help.
How silly of me. How silly of me to not see this coming, this visceral and predictable reaction to my words.
Today I am thinking about judgment and whether it can be avoided. I'm not sure it can. As humans, we have the ability to reason and to judge. It is these very critical faculties that define us as a species. We would not survive a day in the world without the capacity to judge - whether a person is trustworthy, an action is safe, etc. To put it very simply (too simply, I reckon) to live is to judge.
Fine. But what about moral judgments? What about judgments about the way other people carry themselves and live their lives and raise their children? What about judgments about things that are not black and white and obvious, but exquisitely gray in essence? What about judgments about areas as complex as choice, as amorphous as affection? What about these kinds of judgment?
I don't pretend to know. It may turn out that these judgments are rooted in who we are as people as well. That they too are wholly unavoidable. I imagine this is the case. But don't we also have discretion? Isn't discretion a kind of judgment? Isn't it up to us which judgments we articulate and which ones we keep to ourselves, tucked safely in our whirring minds? I think so. I know so.
When is it okay to voice our moral judgments? Again, I haven't a clue. But I think this is an important question. One worth thinking about. Particularly as it relates to very sensitive topics like parenthood.
Parenthood is a thorny and treasured land. For the most part, we all live in this land with good intentions. We adore our children and want what's best for them. We hope that our kids are happy and healthy and grow up to be the same. Every day is an exercise in effort toward these important ends. And we all take different paths toward these more singular goals, don't we? Some of us stay home. Some of us go to an office.
Because parenthood? It's work. Incredibly important and intangible work. Work that compels us and confuses us. Work that makes us cheer and makes us cry. Work that is never ever over.
And so. I'm not sure this post has a tidy point, but that's okay. These words - it turns out - are as murky as the topics they tangle. And perhaps that's appropriate.
If there's a message here, maybe it's that we are human and fallible and that we are wired to make judgments. But maybe just maybe it is up to us to step back and evaluate our own judgments when and if they come. To pick them apart a bit and try to discern their origins. Maybe just maybe, it behooves us to realize that we are all really more alike than we are different. That we are all trying and failing, thriving and fumbling, living and loving and learning the best we can.
Do you think it's in our nature to judge? Do you think it's also in our nature to use our discretion when airing our judgments or is this a skill we must learn along the way? Do you think some of us have less of a filter online given the quasi-anonymity that defines this space?