I used to be a lot more judgemental than I am these days – I think parenting gives you a better understanding of the struggles and hardships others have to endure because you can identify with them yourself. I do still have opinions though, which we’re all entitled to, but occasionally I share them without properly thinking about the implications. I try as much as possible not to intentionally gossip, but I’d be lying if I said human nature doesn’t get the better of me sometimes. I found myself in a situation last week at work, discussing with a colleague another colleague’s imminent return to the office after being off on mat leave. She had IVF twins at the beginning of this year, and always led me to believe that she and her hubby could comfortably afford for her to work part time when she came back.
I was rather shocked to hear that she would be returning full time. We are fortunate in that we work for a big company, one that is very accommodating when it comes to flexible working and part time hours. I have to admit that I was saddened by the news, and the thought ‘why have IVF to have babies then go back to work full time?’ crossed my mind. Then my colleague said she’d had a chat with her, and apparently her husband is really struggling with his business and they desperately need her full time salary. Her mother retired last year so will look after the kids, and with no childcare costs to consider she will bring in a fair bit of money.
I felt awful on several levels. I had made assumptions that were incorrect, then discussed them with another person which is essentially gossiping. It reminded me that you should never judge another person, or have opinions on their life unless you know the full story. If you saw pregnant me walking down the street pushing my beautiful 20mo in her Bugaboo, off to collect her big sister from school and happened to clock my left hand, you would probably assume that I led a very charmed life. You would have no idea of the anguish and disappointments I’ve endured. That I had a messy upbringing, troubled adolescence and have battled with addiction. You’d never know the pain I’ve gone through to get to where I am today. That on this very day, I have probably been up half the night trying desperately to get my 4yo back to sleep. That we bought our buggy secondhand over four years ago and it’s on its last legs, but don’t have the money to replace it. That although excited about the bump, we have also gone through moments of total despair wondering how on earth we will cope with three kids when two can sometimes seem too many.
All this has been buzzing around my head and has made me realise, that we should never judge others. If a friend or family member makes a decision that you don’t agree with, then you should talk to them about it. Voice your concerns, and see if you can help them through what is more than likely a very difficult time. If you don’t feel you can talk to them, then trust they have thought their options through and are making the best decision they are able to make. It’s naive to think people will never talk among themselves about other people, but personally, I shall be making a very concerted effort not to get involved in gossip anymore.