One of the most profound Facebook disagreements I’ve ever had was the time someone posted a story indirectly chastising a young mother for the way she was parenting her child.
I can’t remember the exact details of the post but apparently the child was “out of hand” and the mother wasn’t doing enough to calm them. Or maybe the child dropped their bottle and kept putting it back in their mouth without washing. I can’t remember but I remember the judgment came when the poster insinuated that the reason she couldn’t handle the child was that she was too young to even have one and didn’t know what she was doing.
As a young mother myself, I took great offense to this since the person who posted it was someone deeply religious and involved in the church. Therefore, my first question was whether anything was done to help her or show her a different way to handle her child.
Out of nowhere, a close, religious family member of mine chimed in with a comment about “babies having babies” and that she shouldn’t have what she can’t care for.
My first emotion was one of rage and anger. I wanted to eliminate this family member from any sentiment I had on what family should mean because surely, that wasn’t it.
Her comment was personal. It was directly to me and how she probably felt about my situation all along. I didn’t know where that response came from but I knew that how far I came had everything to do with people like her who never imagined I’d be where I am now.
A few months ago while at a funeral back home I encountered my Sunday School teacher who sought me out to apologize for how she had once treated me when it came to taking care of my son.
I once brought my son to class and she demanded I give him to her because in her words, “you don’t know what you’re doing.”
Nah, I probably didn’t know what I was doing but, if ever there was a time to show me, it was then, in the church.
I put myself in the place of so many others who may not know what they’re doing. Raising their kid, seeking a new position, or finding your own identity.
Society’s job, the village’s job, is to show someone else how to make it with the tools you have to succeed.
That day in that office, a young mother could have found a mentor or her place in society, in spite of her inabilities to be the “perfect mother” in the eyes of someone else.
Instead, she received judgment and ridicule from someone who also brought me more pain.
That relative. Not holding grudges is a work in progress for me. I’m not there yet.
Be better, do better. When someone needs support, be their support. Not their source of pain.