Last week it happened. I didn’t expect it to happen, but it happened. I was minding my own business when WHAM!….I found myself judging someone I really didn’t know.
One of my kids made a new friend and a play date (is it still PC to say that?) was made. The child’s mother was going to pick up my kid at my house. Easy peasy. The aforementioned mother arrived in my driveway at our arranged time and even before I opened the front door, I could feel the judging beginning. She drove a very expensive luxury car, which probably cost about half of my current mortgage. “Ok”, I said to myself. “So she drives a nicer car than I do….big deal”. I open the door as she’s getting out of the driver’s side. Not only does she drive a nice car, she’s beautiful. Ugh. She’s tall, jet black hair, thin and a huge rock on her hand. Double ugh. I’m 5’2″ on a good day and with the red hair I suddenly felt like Strawberry Shortcake standing next to her. She didn’t make a lot of eye contact with me and we quickly made arrangements for her to drop off my child later that day. As she pulled out of my driveway and headed down the street, I have to admit that I was a touch angry. Did she not make eye contact with me because she felt she was better than me? Who did she think she was anyway? Just because she has more money than me doesn’t make her any better than me. And so the judging gathered steam and turned into a full-blown judgefest. By the time I walked back into the house I had decided that she was mean and stuck-up. Granted, I had only had a 30 second meeting with her, but that was my assessment of her. Boom. Put a bow on it and call it done.
The following week another play date (I seriously don’t know what else to call it!!) was made and this time I was to drop my child off at her house. Stellar. I had already been told by another person that it was “the largest single structure” that they had ever seen. Even better. (Insert sarcastic eye roll here) I honestly didn’t want to go, but I knew my child really wanted to, so I put on my big girl panties and sucked it up. “I’m not going to let her get the best of me….I have value, too, ya know”, I kept telling myself. It was my version of a pep talk, as pathetic as it was. As we pull into the driveway of their home, I couldn’t help being envious of their lot. A HUGE lot right on a lake. I’m sure several profanities went running through my head. We get out of the car and I walk with my kid up to her front door. Her child answers and both kids go running back towards the bedrooms. That leaves me standing there in her foyer….alone….with her. More swear words are running around in my head. I’m desperately calling out to my kid to come give me a goodbye to cut the awkward silence between us, but they are already too engrossed in whatever they were doing to acknowledge me. Even more swear words now.
Then something happened that I didn’t see coming. She made eye contact and even smiled! She apologized for being in a rush the other day, but she had just been to the doctor before coming to my house and still had a massive list of things to do later that day. We began talking. Then we began LAUGHING! It turned out that our lives weren’t so different. We talking about kids, the stomach flu, school, tutors, testing, houses, etc. She asked about my kids and I asked about hers. It was wonderful! After a few minutes of talking I thanked her again for having my child over and I left. Once in the car, I reflected on how nice she turned out to be. Then I felt guilty about judging her so quickly. I know better than that! I’m always telling my kids not to do what I just did. I always tell them that you don’t know what kind of day someone is having or what they are going through. Today, I didn’t set a very good example for them. But I’m not going to beat myself up. Hey….I’m human. I’m going to have those emotions. What’s important is what I learned from it.
So, next time you find yourself judging someone….take a few minutes to stop and reflect. We all have bad days. We all have things on our minds. We can all become preoccupied and not show our best face to the world some days. Let’s be patient and kind with each other. I let a momentary lapse of self-esteem potentially ruin getting to know someone that turned out to be quiet kind. Imagine the friendships and relationships you may be passing up by not giving people a chance.