I’m going to warn you now that the following words will offend some people. You might want to consider stopping right here. Because, well, some people might be you. Alright, braveheart, consider yourself warned.
It is time, long past, to stop judging people. Stop it. Unless you were top of your class in law school, passed the bar exam, made partner at a prestigious firm, and were voted in to a job where you sit at a wooden desk behind a plaque with the word Judge written in front of your name, knock it off. People don’t need condemnation.
No one on this earth is suffering from a lack of nasty looks and the knowledge that others are better than them. There would be a pill for that if they were, trust me. But there isn’t. Because there is a surplus. People walk around like they have a gavel in their purse, handing out verdicts like they were tic tacs. Yes, tic tacs. Probably orange.
I am guilty of it, too. I’m not “preaching to the choir,” I’m letting you listen as I talk to myself. You’re welcome.
As a general rule, people already know the rights and wrongs of their choices. They may forget the realness of the human hearts that hinge on their decisions, but deep down, they know. They don’t need you to point it out to them. Or to praise yourself for not being them. They need love. That’s it. Turns out, The Beatles were right. For the purpose of clarity, I will give you two examples. Actually, it’s two responses to one very real situation that actually happened. To me.
When I lost my virginity, no, that’s not right. I did not lose it or misplace it like a set of keys. When I decided to have sex for the first time, (I told you, you might be offended) two people very close to me reacted strongly after finding out. The first, was one of my dearest friends. We were talking in the mall about how she had picked me up from the hotel, (see, I can be classy,) and she was saying how relieved she was that I had called her before it was too late. I knew what she meant, but asked anyway. She said, you know, before you slept with him…. To which I replied that actually, I already had. Which is when, she yelled, at the top of her lungs, just as we rounded the information booth towards Barnes and Noble, “You mean, you’re not like ME anymore???!!!” Which, for the record, is a great way to get the attention of 98% of every single person at Northtown Mall. She then told a bunch of people and it got uglier and uglier from there. At this point, you may be thinking, what is the big deal? But I was raised in church. I was the girl on missions trips and the youth drama team. Yes, drama team. See, stop judging me.
Anyhoo, one of those people that she called, sent me a package. Now, this is someone that I love. She and her husband are the directors of a summer camp for The Salvation Army. I was scared. I actually really, really, cared what she thought about me. I opened the package and there was a letter, I knew there had to be. It was short, so I mustered the courage to read it. I still have it, because, it was full of love. She talked about how she loved me. Told me that Jesus loves me. Included inside jokes, and let me know that I was absolutely loved and accepted and that my welcome would never change. She made sure I had her numbers so that I could call if I needed anything. I did. I needed love. I needed to know that I mattered, even if I did something others looked down on. I called her. I don’t know how long we talked, but I know that something in me broke that night. The need to be hardened and bitter and defensive fell off of me as we spoke. She didn’t champion my rights as a woman to do what I want with my body, but she didn’t scold or judge me either. She was just THERE.
We come into contact with a lot of people everyday. I have seen people judged for every aspect of their being. Seen them put down because of race, weight, sexual orientation, religion, hairstyle, car type, and everything in between. Those people, are real. They have hearts and minds and they will remember how you looked at them. They don’t need you to freak out because they are not like you. Maybe they are doing all they can to not yell in the mall because YOU are not like them. Seriously.
I don’t own a soapbox. I only have my experience to stand on. And I’m asking you to join me. Join me as I stop acting like I have a right to be called, “Your Honor”, and start behaving with honor. Imagine what the world would look like if we judged less and loved more. Imagine how beautiful the world looks when we stop squinting our eyes, and open them.
It is Labor Day. The sky is filled with silver gray clouds and the air hangs heavy, not yet used to the weight of the chill it holds. We are home and safe. My children sit quietly, still tired from another day playing at the lake. Their thoughts vacillating between summer and the upcoming school year.
I am not ready. In two days I will begin wiping sleep instead of sand from tired eyes. I will smile and refuse to cry, as I drop off my twins at their first grade class and leave my oldest with the rest of the fourth grade boys. Until the parking lot, and then all bets are off. I know this. I know what is coming. And I am not ready.
We have had all summer. We have laughed and played. We have sung loudly and off-key. We have danced and painted. We swam and sweat and went through two tanks of propane. We have bowled and mini-golfed, gone to the arcade, local parks, and farmer’s markets. We have experienced the tug-of-war that comes with summer camps and overnights away; the grow up, but don’t grow up, I need you, but I need a little space.
We have spent days on end together. Days where I have watched my children transform and change. And days that seemed like every day was the same. There have been times that I have almost ripped the hairs from my own head in frustration. When I cannot utter the sentences that I think I want to say, because in a little while I know that I will hold you, after this storm of temper has passed, and I don’t want to have regrets. I just need to always be the place you call Safe.
This summer has been the most I have ever been called Mom. Five little voices all rising and falling in syncopated time. Mom, Mommy, Momma, and Ma Ma Mahm- it’s the best thing I’ve ever been called. The greatest compliment I’ve ever been given. And I strive to live up to it. Have strived for the last 10 hot weeks to not take this gift for granted. To be someone worth holding little hearts and guiding imaginations and minds. To not just spend more time cleaning the house, but to be purposeful in my making this our home.
And now it’s time. Another season is quite literally rounding the corner, and I cannot slow its approach. The last sherbet colored tendrils of the summer sky have been neatly tucked into their bed, and I cannot find them, because they, like little ones, need their rest. So it is, with a heavy heart, that I say goodbye to summer, with its days too long and its nights too brief. Goodbye to the places we went, and to those we never got to see. Rest well, my friend, in three seasons more, we will come find you again. Changed, but sure.