I have been struggling with judgement, judgement I have felt from others and the judgement I deal onto others. Partly it is a struggle because I know judgement can cause pain to people, and partly I struggle because having judgement feels uncontrollable and it also feels necessary. In religion they say you should not judge another man, but daily life takes judgement and while you may avoid judging people, it is hard not to judge their actions. If you look up the meaning of the word Judgement in the dictionary, it is simply about making choices or opinions based on feelings and or knowledge. For some reason though, judgement is something that can upset people. In a need to find peace, I have come to think of judgement being like the weather, there is no bad weather, there is just weather that pleases us more than other weather. There is weather that is more convenient, or goes along with our ideas and other weather experiences that are quite the opposite. Likewise judgement seen as favourable sits well with us but we dislike judgement if it is a bother. Judgement can be a breath of fresh air, or like rain on your parade. Judgement can be felt as a reward or as a condemnation. It can be given impassively or with emotion behind it, and often it really boils down to weather or not you feel loved and content and confident, and if you can sit with yourself despite what other’s think of you or a situation. We need judgement in our lives to guide us on our path. Judging by the looks of their lawn, I would say it is fertilized and chemically treated, so don’t let the baby crawl on the grass. Or Judging by the way his breath smelt she could tell he had been drinking and decided he should not drive. Judging by the way the farmer treated his cows, they would not live long lives. However you look at the word and act of judging it is part of life and you have to remember it is always subjective and changeable for both you and others.
The girls had been put to bed and Cam was still at work and I was having a moment to myself after a very busy and detailed day. The morning started with Cam in the kitchen early, something that does not happen often. Usually he likes to perch on the bed upstairs and look out the window and have me bring him coffee and toast. He assumes that if he sits there, I know he is waiting to be looked after, which I do to keep our home harmonious. We make a point do these little nurturing thing for one another.
Anyway, yesterday was unusual because Cam was in the kitchen making his own coffee. He was particularly animated and opened our morning conversation with “We are gong to start a heavy metal rock band, it is going to be called Death Star Angels. It is going to involve you getting an extreme hair cut. You are the lead singer!” He burst forth with gusto that arises from brilliant ideas. Feeling pleased with his imaginings of me with an extreme haircut. He quickly added “You are going to have to wear some pretty funky stuff…and you are going to have to write some songs.”
I joined in with his exuberance, I totally have a rock star alter ego that needs little encouragement. Visions of side shaved head, dangerous shoes and torn clothes aside, Cam went off to work and me, in miss matched pjs and slippers with holes, continued preparing for our homeshcool easter party that was to start at 1pm.
Judgement number 1: My husband thinks I would make a good heavy metal rock chic.
Earlier in the week we had visitors from Australia, and so I did not have a lot to do housework wise as things were already ship-shape. I had prepared wheatgrass baskets and natural dyed eggs in advance and so the only task I had set myself left was to bake hot cross buns. All in all I was organised when our friends arrived at 1pm. Lisa arrived first with Lella, June and Lief and we had a text from Sachi to say they had a biking incident and that they were on their way.
When Sachi arrived her fingers were black with grease and her index finger was swollen and bleeding dark blood. Instantly I sprang into action to help her. We unbuckled baby Gus from the ergo pouch and removed him from Sachi’s front. Sachi had ridden over to our house with three of her children riding their own two-wheel bikes and 7 month old baby Gus strapped to her front while she rode her bike. On the way 4 year old Claudie’s bike chain fell off and in the process of repairing it, Sachi’s finger was bitten between the chain and the teeth of the cog on the bike.
The injury needed to be cleaned, and so she let her hand be bathed under running water to remove loose dirt, however moving grease is trickier, especially when you can’t scrub because of a painful wound. To remove grease you have two choices, a solvent, which is abrasive and stings, or another oil. Oil removes oil. Mechanical grease derives from crude oil, and so a good way to remove it from injured skin is with a gentle plant oil. I ran up to the bathroom and grabbed some cold pressed almond oil, and yes, that did the trick. Sachi was impressed and said that I was quite the nurse. The wound was clean enough to coat and I gave Sachi the choice of a natural Hypericum & Calendula cream or Neosporin. While I love natural options and use them, I also have pharmaceuticals on hand.
With Sachi’s finger fixed as best we could, our easter party progressed. Hot cross buns were broken apart and served outdoors on the picnic blanket, still warm from the oven and steaming in the cool air. I am not sure how I managed to do all of this, but indeed it was well organised, so much so that Sachi inquired if I was brought up this “organised”. I had to think about it for a moment, and said “Yes, my family were very hard workers. My mother was a single mother and she was very organised, efficient and neat, and my grandmother is like that too.”
Judgement number two: My friend thinks I am quite the nurse and very organised.
We talked briefly about the symbolism of the cross on the hot cross buns and how they represent sacrifice, and the tradition of eating them on good friday at the end of lent. The children were then allowed to go inside so the Mamas could hide the eggs. Then the Mamas were sent inside and the children hid the eggs. Then we played games. Pin the tail on the bunny, followed by what’s the time Mr Wolf, followed by duck duck goose. I was the game master and the children took great delight in making me the goose over and over. I think I ran around the tree stumps a dozen times, with fits of laughter pouring from the children at my exaggerated protests each time they chose me!
Judgement number three: The children thought I made the best goose.
Three hours later the party came to an end with my emotional tired children, spent from chores and play. I knew Cam would be working late and so alone I gave the girls early dinner, followed by bath, teeth brushing, stories and then bed. Which brings me back to where I started.
The girls had been put to bed and Cam was still at work and I was having a moment to myself after a very busy and detailed day. And what was I doing in my moment of rest? Well I was googling myself. Oh yes, oh yes! I had just had an email from Claire of One Clair Day saying: “Just letting you know you are up on WHJ today… hope you’re happy with the interview. I edited out the section where we got talking about your project etc. We ended up just using your dslr photos because they looked magical!”
A few weeks ago, with much honor I was interviewed for the wonderful Whole Hearted Journal. I really spoke from the heart and felt a release in having a voice, and during which I said some pretty honest things. While doing the interview I had mentioned a project I was working on with some other women, and then in hindsight I had written to Claire asking her to omit that out because I had not asked the people I am working with it they were ok with my announcing it. I had also said in the interview: “I find myself wanting to scream from a mountain top. Stop buying markers, use pencils! Stop using zip lock bags! Use containers! Be happy with your natural looks, those chemicals in make up and hair dyes are polluting our water ways and teach my daughters to think they need to be more beautiful…Look I love everyone, I just want people to love themselves and to love the earth. So many issue come from not loving the self”
In reading the article I noticed that Claire left that bit out too, and I wondered if she did that intentionally so as not to offend their readers? I am a naturalist and I have this passion that erupts from me. I realise people don’t want to hear it, and people just want to do what they want to do to find happiness or to make life instantaneously easier and better, no matter what I say.
Judgement number three: Sometimes I say intense things that might offend people.
With innocence and content I am sitting and reading though kirsten rickert google results and I see my name in the New York Magazine. My heart skips a beat, “What NY Mag? I don’t know about that?” Now over the years I have popped up here and there, like that time I was interviewed for the New York Times about home birthing in New York City, but this was not the New York Times, this was the New York Magazine, and I had no recollection of being involved with it. So a dived in to see what it was about. Hmmm? Ok, people say there is no such thing as bad publicity, but my friends, my excitement quickly turned to annoyance as I read the piece and realised the journalist was making fun of homebirthing at expense of me! Yes, I had been made a mockery of in the NY Mag because I birthed a baby at home in NYC and because I had an apartment that she assumed had a view and because I had a white couch? Which my friends I must have you know, I spent a lot of time alone with the girls in that apartment that was a third floor walk up and did not have a washing machine, and I schlepped up and down those stairs a zillion times carrying a newborn and a two year old and loads and loads of laundry and groceries and that white couch was a basic from ikea and ended up on the curb when we had a doozy of a case of Brooklyn bedbugs. Yes, I was privileged to have that experience, but believe me, it was not without blood sweat and tears.
Judgement number three: Journalist thinks I am a privileged non grunting homebirther out of place in NYC.
The evening progresses and I am a little out of sorts for my name was in an article catagorized under key word ‘gross’ in the NY Mag! I did not like being made fun of in a prominent magazine and so I text Cam to share my woes. His response was “Haha”, which was perfect as that is all one can do, laugh at one’s self. It is pretty funny right? Around 10pm I heard Cam arrive home and I rushed down the stairs to greet him. At the entrance I broke into an impromptu song with heavy stuccatoed lyrics accompanied by some head banging and hair lashing. “How do you like our first song?” I said. A smile spread across Cam’s face. His enthusiasm for starting a heavy metal rock band had diminished from a long day of working in Manhattan at About.com, but he loved that I was silly and playful enough to show him I was on board with the fantasy and I was meeting him where we left off 14 hours ago. We hugged and I made my way back to bed to continue my obsession with social media. Cam came into the room with a handful of Hersey’s kisses that he had brought home for the girls and we discussed what to do with them. Of course my first instinct was to remind him we don’t eat Hershey because it is not the best ethical choice and then I decided to let this one go, we had both had a long day, and we all needed peace. “Line them up, half each side on their bedside table, they will see them the moment they wake up and they will be so excited!” I suggested. Our girls have only had Hershey chocolate a few times and to them they are a very exciting treat. I like fair trade organic chocolate, but Cam is happy to let them eat Hershey whatever. “They will want to eat them the moment they get up!” I said with happy thoughts of their delight. “Don’t let them eat chocloate before breakfast” Cam insisted. While I am particular about the type of chocolate we give the girls I am not particular about the time of day they eat it. Chocolate for breakfast once in a blue moon, is ok with me!
Judgement number four: My husband thinks I am wrong to let girls eat chocolate before breakfast as a special treat.
A new day arrives and it starts with Maya bounding into my room with excitement over having found the chocolates on the bedside table. Her sweet little face is all smiles as she holds the four kisses in her hand. “Daddy said you could have one after breakfast” I say to her and she rushes off to tell Elle the news. I grab my phone and spend my waking moments on instagram, catching up on the ever so important photos, likes and comments and notice that someone has written under one of my photos “Maybe it is just me, but your children always look sad”. Despite reading numerous positive comments, this one comment really bothered me and so I spent a few moments looking over my photos and indeed, I do choose a lot of melancholy photos, especially of Elle. I personally like that melancholy look on her when she is so beautiful but not overtly happy, but of course I don’t want the world to think my children are sad just because of the way I edit! But wait, who cares what someone else thinks anyway…but you know, this comment got me.
Judgment number five: Woman who follows me on instagram thinks my children look sad.
With the women’s comment in the forefront of my mind I decide to enquire about my children’s happiness with them. It is funny how judgment can reach your head or your heart, or it can get under your skin. If it does get under your skin, then there is probably reason to dig deeper, and the reason might not be bad. I do worry about my children’s happiness. Life can be hard, and I don’t take happiness for granted, even in children. I was a miserable child. The girls are sitting at the kitchen bench on the matching red stools, eating breakfast and we entered into morning conversation. I ask both the girls if they are happy, and I explain to them that someone looked at our instagram photos and thought they were sad, and what did they think about that? Both agreed that they were indeed happy. Then a few moments later, which I can only imagine came from my being open to talk about absolutely anything and everything with my children, Elle said “Mummy, did you ever consider marrying a woman?”
My worry dissolved and like that we turned to a clean white page. I was able to rest assured that not only were my children happy, but they were smart and worldly-wise and interesting and cool. With some thought on how to answer I said “Yes, I did consider momentarily if I would want a girlfriend, but I knew I wanted to have a baby and raise it with a man, and then I met Daddy.”
Life is full of areas of grey and the clarity that comes with judgement is a gift.
So if I were to be the person people judged me to be yesterday, I would be a heavy metal rock chic who is very organised and likes to look after people, but says things other people might not like, with children that look sad all the time but is heterosexual and loves gay people too. Really, is that who I am?
Well judging by today on the other hand, I am a writer sitting at her computer all day with a very messy house, who says things that people might like, but has not eaten yet even though it is 2pm while her children are outside in their pjs playing in the street with the neighbourhood kids and was just told by one of them that I am soon to be known as the craziest mother on earth across all continents.
Now really why would my child say that? Anyway, to conclude, judgement can be fine and sunny some days and be all rain and thunderstorm on other days. You just have to go with it and live accordingly to what the universe sends your way, prepare for the elements as best you can and try and stay well. You must use and accept your judgement and the judgement of others, and not let it get you down, but if it does, take care, a change will come, the judgement will create a shift. Judging by the weather today, tomorrow I will still need a sweater, but I know eventually the sun will come and with it so will blue skies and great warmth.