Most of the people I see around have one thing in common. They walk around wearing a judge’s hat on their heads and a gavel in their hands.
Ready to pronounce judgement at a moment’s notice.
These self appointed guardians are everywhere and you don’t even need to look hard to find them. They have perfected the art of critiquing things that don’t effect their lives in the least. And one of the topics that tickles their inner judge the most ….. is parenting.
Being a parent is like wearing a sign that says – I would love some free advice on how to bring up this human. Or at least everyone around you seems to be able to read it clearly.
People don’t hesitate for a moment to stop what they’re doing to tell you that you’re holding the baby wrong, that you shouldn’t have gotten him to the mall, that his hair are falling close to his eyes and even blind him if we let this happen.
Now we’re pretty cautious parents, the two of us. Not the kinds to fling our baby from the balcony after smoking a joint. No, thats not us. But when people pounce out of nowhere telling us that the baby’s head is not a perfect 90 degree when he’s sleeping, I feel like a criminal.
Everyone knows that parenting is just a polite word for a lifelong guilt trip, but I guess I wasn’t prepared for it.
The funny thing is, there are no boundaries when it comes to judging parenting. And anyone can do it.
Just the other day I took an auto to go pick up my baby from his daycare. I’d asked the auto to wait for a few minutes while I fetched him. On my return, we sat in the auto and I could see the driver glancing at me every few minutes in the rearview mirror. I ignored, and went on to talk to my little one. About 5 minutes later, the driver couldn’t stop himself and asked me, “Itne chhote bacchhe ko kaise chhod ke jaate ho? Bahut kadak dil hai aap logon ka.” Before I could whip up a wisecrack to respond to him, he quipped back and said “Hamaare yahan to koi aisa nahi karta, aapki family nahi rehti aapke saath?”
My Delhi instincts nudged me to kick the guy in the shin and ask him “whats your problem?”, but I had a baby in my hand and I’m sure he would’ve retorted with a “Itne chhote bacche ko lekar kaise maar sakte ho?” So I replied with a “Nahi rehte” instead.
He spent the next 4 minutes criticising the lifestyle of young people like us who work in different cities and how they have no time even for their own children.
Then he went on to ask me who my paediatrician was. I was shocked for a moment but told him the name of my kid’s doctor. He grunted and said “woh sab bekaar hai! go to Dr. XYZ in Powai Vihar, woh best hai!”
He then waxed eloquent about how his doctor was the best doctor in the city and how the rest (including the one I go to and had researched online) are quacks and give local medicines.
It was then that I realised that he wasn’t judging me. He was judging himself to be better than me. And that made me feel so much better.
So even though, in than 7 minute ride from his daycare to home, I had been labelled as an irresponsible mom who leaves her child with strangers and takes him to a ‘bad’ doctor, the man who had driven us home, felt great about his life choices.
And that I can live with.