You know how it is. As parents – as humans really – we get judged. Quite often we get judged on absolutely everything and there’s a certain amount of percieved jusdement as well – times where people maybe aren’t judging but you definitely feel like they are. Like when the toddler throws a fit and lays on the supermarket floor or won’t budge off the slide in the park even though there’s a rapidly growing queue of small people wanting to play on said slide. Or when you drop something, mutter “shit” under your breath and your child spends the next ten minutes singing “shit shit shit shiiiit” at the top of their lungs, despite your very best Mary Poppins-esque “we don’t say that darling…” No one says anything, but we all know they’re judging.
We all judge. It’s human nature. I shared a story recently that was the reason why I changed my ideas about judgement, and I wanted to share it here in the hope that others might join my school of thought.
I was taking emergency 999 calls – my previous job – and a man came through. He said his wife was in labour and was having contractions very frequently – almost one on top of the other. After ascertaining the details, the system was flashing “imminent birth” at me, so I asked if he was right next to his wife. “No”, he told me “she’s in the bedroom and I’m in the hallway.” I asked him to go to her and he refused. I told him that if the baby is coming, he needs to help and could he please go to her immediately. He refused.
Now, at this point I will admit that I was judging HARD. Outside, I was a picture of professionalism, but inside my brain was giving the judgiest running commentary that there has ever been. Why won’t he go in there? He helped put the baby there, it’s ironic that he won’t help get it out. Why are men so bloody useless. I can’t believe he’s endangering his baby and wife etc etc. It was all there. And my eyes were rolling back so far in my head that I think I saw my brain at one point.
Then, something stopped my judgy play-by-play in its tracks. The gentleman said to me…
“I can’t. It’s against my religion.”
Man, oh man, did I feel stupid? I had been sitting there, judging this man because I thought he was just being plain useless, while all the time he was trying to preserve something that was very important to him. Something that I had no right to question as it was the very foundation of his beliefs. He believed that if he went into that room, he and his wife would be sinners. Is it any wonder that he didn’t want to?
We solved it. He went and got a female neighbour who was able to go into the room and comfort the mother, who by this point was screaming her lungs out and desperately needed someone with her.
When I hung up, I was pretty embarassed with myself. Although the gentleman didn’t know it (or maybe he did), my brain had a jolly ole time judging how “useless” he was and prescribing plenty of things that he could have been getting on with rather than being “useless”. When really, he was doing the most useful thing that he could in that he was calling an ambulance. He WAS helping and he WAS doing his best, but as with all of us he had limitations. As with all of us, he was a human with his own story and his own background, which should be respected.
The way I reacted was human nature too. I was looking at it from my own place, with my own views and my own beliefs. This conversation taught me that there’s a whole world outside of my views and beliefs and you never know why others make the decisions that they do. Their reasoning might be just as sound as yours or backed by something that is a pillar stone of who they are as a person. I actually used this true story as an example of “a time where you failed” in my recent job interview. It reminded me that those who work with people should never judge, because nine times out of ten, you get it wrong
All’s well that ends well. That baby was born probably three minutes after the ambulance crew set foot in the door. Just popped right out there on their parents’ bed. Mum was well, baby was well and the crew arrived to play catch.
The moral of the story? Quit being Judgey McJudgerson and help your fellow human.