I took Izzy to see Cirque du Soleil Crystal yesterday afternoon and it was phenomenal. I can not wait to see another Cirque show, we both loved it and the time with each other. That was really the point, to spend girl time enjoying the performing arts. There were a lot of mother-daughter duos and several mother-daughter-granddaughter trios in attendance for the Sunday afternoon show. Amongst the lights and music, I witnessed a very interesting exchange between two mothers that made me think and want to share with you.
Sitting next to Izzy and me was a mother (Mother A), her seemingly 12 year old daughter, and her mother and father. Immediately seated behind them was a mother (Mother B), her seemingly 7-8 year old daughter, and another family member. I did not hear the start of the conversation, but from context it appears that Mother A, seated next to Izzy, used a curse word or two in describing something (the details are really not that important to the rest of the story and I didn't hear that part of the exchange. I was too busy not believing my eyes at the human feats performed before me). Mother B, seated behind Mother A, was enraged and raised her voice which is when I started to pay attention.
Mother B said, "I paid a lot of money to be here and I have a child with me, will you stop using that language"..... Mother A looked behind her in disbelief, made a scrunchy nosed face and turned back around to watch the show....good for her for not verbally responding although the scrunchy nosed face seemed to be the unspoken "Who are you F*** talking to" face.
Here's the interesting part for me and several questions I have for us all to consider; the short exclamation from Mother B and how it was delivered was filled with what I interpreted as absolute judgement and disdain for Mother A. Why?
I assume they had not met before yesterday and quite clearly we were all seated in the same section and paid virtually the same to be there depending on the ticket source used.....Yes, the seats were not cheap, but why did Mother B assume her money was more valuable than Mother A's money?
Why did Mother B not simply say to Mother A, "We prefer to not curse around our child(ren), can you please refrain from cursing?"
Was this a prime opportunity to have a teachable moment with her child about acceptable public behavior?
Why did Mother B's tone drip with assumption that Mother A was a bad parent or somehow of less status or less deserving because she used profanity? (I may be a little sensitive to this whole profanity conversation but go with me)
Furthermore, not just yesterday, Why does it seem that we cannot understand that because someone chooses to parent or behave differently than we do that it does not mean that the other person is unfit or bad or unworthy, right?
Do we try to judge someone as unworthy so that we feel better about ourselves?
Why did Mother B jump to aggressive confrontation instead of having a calm interaction with Mother A?
Why did Mother B assume that her preferences were more important, more pure, more holy, more acceptable than Mother A?
Mother A handled it as well as I imagine any of us would by basically refusing to further engage verbally although her scrunchy face was a pretty clear nonverbal so maybe Mother B deserves more credit for not continuing the unhealthy confrontation. Anywho, Mother A also apologized to me for the "ordeal" to which I replied, no apology needed BECAUSE why the hell do women judge each other so harshly. I know men do it, too, but I'm focused on women and how we can build each other up because this is an epidemic. This woman-woman judgement BS is exactly that BS.
You don't have to like my behavior or allow it in your presence, and here's how that works - you ask me politely to stop whatever the offending behavior is AND I have a choice to stop it or not. If there is not a policy, rule, or law prohibiting it - I HAVE A CHOICE! If you do not like my choice, then YOU HAVE A CHOICE to tolerate it or remove yourself from the situation. Your desires are not more important than anyone else's nor are mine....We are in this TOGETHER!
Let's be frank, this is about discretionary behavior and sometimes ideological differences and the line is not always black and white, I get that. The exception is, If I catch you beating the heck out of your child, I will skip steps A thru Z above and proceed directly to physical conflict to protect any chiId BUT that is NOT what I witnessed yesterday.
Maybe I have a potty mouth (ok, I do have a potty mouth), maybe I wear shirts that show cleavage ,or short skirts, or moo-moos, or yoga pants everyday, or flannel shirts all year round, or my hair in a pony tail, or I always look put together, or I always look like I crawled out of the dryer, or I believe in God or no god or many Gods, maybe I let my kids wear the same shirt all week because he/she loves it or it keeps him calm, maybe maybe maybe.......none of that makes us bad people or bad moms, and because you don't do some or all of that doesn't make you a better person or mom.
We are all just trying to raise good contributing American citizens and help our friends do the same. Some of us choose not to birth children and that doesn't make us less of a woman or less important to the raising of children. Three of my most treasured friends chose to not have children and they all directly impact the raising of my children because (a) they want to and (b) they are important members of my village and (c) this journey takes all of us!!
IMO, A huge part of why women are so competitive with each other is that we are competing for attention and praise and ACCEPTANCE because deep down we don't believe that we are ENOUGH and we are teaching that to our daughters and our sons. KNOCK IT OFF!! YOU ARE ENOUGH and YOU ARE LOVED!! We don't have to like each other or all the choices that we make, but we can always choose kindness, compassion, and support.
You are enough and more than that you can be everything to your family, yourself, and your tribe by building them up, not tearing them down. There is a time and a place for tough love - tough love is about growth NOT destruction - the difference is follow through. You absolutely do not have to tolerate behavior you do not like, you can approach it through empowerment instead of destruction. We can accept that we will receive feedback that we do not like sometimes, it doesn't mean that we do not need it or that it may be bullocks. We are so much stronger and so much more capable when we do this together. This means having difficult conversations and respecting differences and finding what we appreciate in each other and what we admire in each other and most importantly that we are all in this TOGETHER!
In the end, I hope Mother B was just having a bad moment and that she was able to enjoy Crystal and the rest of her day with her daughter!