Judge Less, Empower More

I seem to be thinking a lot about judgement recently. There seems to be a lot of shaking of the head, and “tsk, tsking” going on on All Things Spliced at the moment, and I’m sorry to say that this is another post wondering why, as a society, we seem so intent on tearing each other apart. And can I just point out that it’s not Mrs Lighty that’s “tsk, tsking” whilst shaking her head? No, it’s not me, but it does seem to be everyone else. And I suppose, I am, in a way, judging everyone else’s reaction to aspects of society, but a big part of me is ready to shout from the rooftops: “Stop! Just stop! We need to be building each other up, not tearing each other down!”

I’ve already written about the comments The Lightys recently had directed at us during a visit to a zoo. The majority of parents will, unfortunately, have been at the brunt end of a comment or other such as this at some point in time. However, since then, I’ve seen judgement reach further still. On a Facebook group I belong to, which I stress isn’t focused on parenting, there was recently a discussion on the ruling that wheelchairs take precedence on buses over buggies. This is a really emotive subject for many, and I don’t think it’s always as clear cut as this ruling would hope.

The subject up for discussion on this group was whether a young mum in a wheelchair had precedence on the bus over two young mums with buggies. All three mothers were using the bus to collect their older children from school. Whilst I don’t know the ins and outs of that particular case, I feel like it’s such a hard one to call. All three mothers needed to use the bus to collect their children, and none of us onlookers could know the exact circumstances of any one mother over the other. I feel for all three mothers in this situation, and precisely because I didn’t know all of the ins and outs of the story, I felt that it wasn’t my place to judge.

Judge less, empower more
However, on seeing that other women in this group were happy to judge, calling the mums with buggies ‘selfish’ for not giving up their space on the bus, I did feel like I needed to point out that none of us knew these women personally, nor did we know their individual circumstances. As a regular bus user, I have always said that I would give up my buggy space on the bus for a wheelchair user, as I can appreciate that this time of Baby Lighty needing to use the buggy is a temporary situation for me. But that may not be the case for all mums. Some may be suffering from postnatal depression and anxiety, some may not be able to walk long distances, some may have disabilities themselves. They may have children who would be distressed at their parent arriving late to pick them up from school. In this day and age of competition for school places they may simply live too far away to walk. Or, there may have been a major road to cross, and it’s unfair to expect both the wheelchair user or the mums with buggies to have to cross this on foot.

Imagine my shock, therefore, when not only were the women on this group judging the mums on the bus, but they also started to make comments to me, such as saying that I should walk long distances, as they used to do years ago, and “don’t modern buggies fold?”. They didn’t know my circumstances. They didn’t know that I regularly walk an hour’s round trip to our Monday baby group, and an hour and ten minutes’ round trip to our local library’s rhyme time. They didn’t know that the reason that I use the bus to get to our Thursday baby group is because without it, I’d have to cross the M25 on foot, something that I’m not willing to do with the buggy, especially considering that the buggy with Baby Lighty in it was recently reversed into by a car pulling off its drive on a quiet street near us (and before we’re judged for that, the driver waved us round, and as I manoeuvred around the car, the driver went to pull forward but didn’t realise she was still in reverse, backing into us instead of going forward).

I recently had to fold the buggy on the bus for the first time in 21 months, and it was an experience, to say the least. I had to rely on the kindness of strangers to hold the buggy for me while I tried to comfort Baby Lighty, who had a mini breakdown over the fact that he was being taken out of the buggy on the bus. I can’t imagine having to do this with a newborn; at least Baby Lighty can stand unaided while I fold the buggy, and even after all of this, I still managed to lose Baby Lighty’s hat in all of the hullaballo. I like to think that despite suffering bouts of anxiety, I am a relatively confident person, yet I stepped off of that bus feeling like a nervous wreck. The fact that I took to Instagram with the below post shows this.

We've had a lovely morning at soft play with our NCT friends. The getting there? Not so lovely. For the first time in 21 months, I had to fold the buggy on the bus 😩 With a wheelchair and us already on there, there was no room for the mum of the newborn, so it was only right that I folded my buggy. Of course Baby Lighty had a slight meltdown at having to stand on the bus by himself while I folded it, and then the ticket inspector got on and I had the unenviable task of balancing a toddler, two bags and a hat whilst retrieving my Oyster Card. This is no mean feat! Luckily a lovely couple sitting behind us took pity on me and held the buggy for me for the duration of my journey, and even got off the bus to help me get it set back up. I could've cried at their kindness and can't thank them enough. And then, just as I thought we were all done and dusted and ready to rock 'n' roll, I realised I'd left the hat on the bus, and I could've cried all over again! 😭 #Traumatic! Anyway, here is Baby Lighty throwing some moves on the light up dance floor! #softplay #lightupdancefloor #move #kidspace #busdrama #toddler #toddlersofinstagram #happylittlebuttons #myhappycapture #mydarlingmemory #perfectandproud #rememberingthesedays #littlefierceones #candidchildhood #MummyShot #myfamilyadventures #rawchildhood #pinklinker #capturingtheday #coolmumclub #mbloggers #pbloggers #ukparentbloggers #BabyLighty #AllThingsSpliced

A post shared by Nicola – All Things Spliced (@mrslighty1504) on

On the whole, I tend to use the sling on the bus to avoid this situation, although I would always get off the bus for a wheelchair user if I did have the buggy with me. In fact, I have done before, because there wasn’t enough space for the wheelchair user to manoeuvre off the bus when they came to their stop, and as I went to get back on, the bus started to close its doors and pull away, leaving me banging on them to get back on. Being called a “stupid cow” by the driver of the bus for getting off was just lovely, and made a then very anxious new mum by the name of Mrs Lighty cry.

Judge less, empower more

On the bus, in the sling!

Anyway, I digress…so my point of this post: why are we tearing each other down? We are all women, regardless of whether we are mothers or not, regardless of whether we use the bus or not, indeed, regardless of whether we agree with each other or not. We all have our own needs and our own thoughts, and that’s what makes us all so interesting. It’s also what would make us so strong if we put all of our differences together and pooled our opinions and resources and worked as a team. A band of women should be a force to be reckoned with, and I’m shocked that we’d shatter those bonds rather than use them to support one another.

Incidentally, when I phoned the bus depot to enquire as to whether Baby Lighty’s hat had been handed in to lost property, I found myself explaining to the operator what had happened that day on the bus and that I knew it was only a hat that I’d lost, but that I felt so stupid for having lost it. His response? “It doesn’t matter that it was only a hat, it was your hat so it’s worth checking. This parenting malarkey isn’t easy, so keep up the good work. You’re doing a great job!”

And isn’t that just the sort of kindness of strangers that we do need? The kindness of the older couple on the bus and the kindness of the bus depot operator helped to show me that difficult situations can be made easier, and that’s what we need, isn’t it?!

After all, the three women on the bus were all mums. And I’m lucky that in my experience, I’ve had some awesome support from what I call the Secret Sisterhood of Awesome Mothers. And as such, I will always help another Mum – indeed, another woman, another person – out if I can. I always try to offer another Mum a sympathetic smile and some kind words if her little one is throwing a tantrum in public, or say to them “I’m glad it’s not just my one that throws things”. Or when I see that a parent has forgotten something, lend a replacement if I can or at least say that I’m always forgetting pieces of baby kit too to show my support. It’s not much, I know, but sometimes a kind word and a smile goes a long way. I guess there’s nothing more I can do than air my opinion here – and I know that some won’t agree with it, but that’s ok – and continue to offer those little words of support where I can.

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25 thoughts on “Judge Less, Empower More”

  1. Oh! The kindness of the person at the depot! I think we all judge each other to some extent because we also judge ourselves! Maybe if we were kinder to ourselves we would be kinder to others too! X

    1. Yes this is a very good point. I do often feel like I need a thicker skin. But yes, the kindness of the older couple and the man at the depot! So lovely! Thanks so much for stopping by!

  2. A handful of words from a stranger can either tear us apart or lift us up and give us an extraordinary boost. If only we were all more mindful when casting judgement and realise the implications of our words. I can’t believe that you have faced such unnecessary comments from strangers in the community. You of all people could not be nicer and more supportive of other mums. I applaud your post lovely and couldn’t agree with you more xx
    Rhyming with Wine recently posted…#DreamTeam Linky Week 45My Profile

    1. Ah thank you so much lovely. The comments were on a Facebook group, so it’s probably proof that people will say worse things to you online than they would in real life. But anyway, it’s fine, you learn and move on, hey? xxx

  3. We are as a society very judgemental. I wonder how this has happened to us? Has it always been so? I try not to be, but I’m sure I fail on occasion!

    Reading this has also made me enterally grateful that I live in a Tram city, they are so much easier to navigate with a pram!

    #coolmumclub

    1. Ooh I’ve never done a tram with a buggy! Sounds great! I’m the same, I try not to be but I’m sure I fail at times. But I think it’s when we don’t know the whole picture that judgement is even harder to take? Thanks so much for stopping by! #coolmumclub

  4. I love this post, your message is so important! You don’t know how that one particular person is feeling on that particular day, and one throwaway remark could be something that just sends them over the edge. I’m glad you had such lovely people help you in a sticky situation, but sorry you’ve had to encounter unkind words when you yourself were just trying to stick up for other mums who might have been in a difficult situation. A great post, as always #coolmumclub

    1. Thank you very much lovely! The couple that helped me out on the bus and also the man at the depot couldn’t have been lovelier. It just goes to show that there is good in the world still. #CoolMumClub

    1. My point exactly!! And I just kinda think, it doesn’t kill anyone to be kind, does it? Thanks so much for hosting #coolmumclub as always! xxx

    1. And what nicer gift is there to give our children than just to teach them to be kind to each other? Imagine if everyone took that stance from an early age, what a lovely world the place would be! Thanks so much for stopping by 🙂 #DreamTeam

  5. I vaguely heard about that buggy vs. wheelchair controversy (I live in Ireland). Isn’t it crazy that the courts had to rule over such a small matter?! Communication, kindness, empathy would go such a long way, rather than yet another petty legal rule/judgement.
    #CandidCuddles

    1. Yes exactly, especially when these cases aren’t always 100% clear cut. As you say, kindness and communication would go a long way! Thanks so much for stopping by! #CandidCuddles

  6. Parenting definitely isn’t easy! I don’t know how you are meant to fold a buggy on a moving bus! That sounds impossible to me. How do you hold the baby & the baby’s stuff & bag & all of the stuff shoved on the bottom of the buggy with one hand while somehow folding the buggy up with the other hand? This is super woman stuff! You are very kind to keep an eye out for wheel chair users. Don’t let the judgment of others get you down, shake it off, lift yourself up & carry on spreading the beautiful message that you do! Thank you for sharing your quote with us at #candidcuddles xx

    1. Ah thank you so much Becky. It was a bit of a feat with a single buggy, let alone a double buggy!! At least I could sit Baby Lighty on the floor of the bus as he had his mini meltdown…what would I have done with a newborn, I wonder?! Thanks so much for hosting #CandidCuddles

  7. Oh Nic. This actually brought tears to my eyes. Well done on keeping it together on the bus! And isn’t it lovely that both the people holding your buggy and the operator where so helpful. I don’t think people realise how difficult it is to fold a buggy! Because it’s not just a buggy is it, it’s everything that was underneath in the tray, plus all the bags. And don’t get me started on how hard it is when there are no seats and you are trying to keep a toddler upright as the bus is swerving and bumping about. Thanks for sharing with the #DreamTeam xx
    Annette, 3 Little Buttons recently posted…#DreamTeam Linky 46My Profile

    1. Yes that’s exactly it, it’s all the bags and things that go with it! I had to put Baby Lighty on the floor as he refused to cooperate and stand up! Stressful, but so lucky that the lovely elderly couple were willing and able to help out. #DreamTeam xxx

  8. Great post, I agree, we can’t judge because we don’t know the individual circumstances of each person. By the way, don’t even try to get on a bus in Mexico with either a buggy or a wheelchair -impossible! What really made my blood boil though was your experience with the rude bus driver; since when is it acceptable to call a paying customer a stupid cow??? Arrogant ****! Surely that’s a sackable offence? #CandidCuddles

    1. I know!! I was so upset that I cried!! I’d be a bit thicker skinned now but it’s still not acceptable really… I should have made a complaint to the bus company, but you know what it’s like with a newborn baby, so many things just don’t happen… Thanks so much for stopping by from #CandidCuddles.

  9. Nicola, this is an important post. Many people seem to think that whenever they are in a hurry or in a bad mood that they are entitled to lash out at others. Those are the times when it’s most important to slow down and remind oneself that others are in a hurry as well or are also dealing with something difficult and to ask oneself “What is the kind thing to do in this situation?” I want to bring back kindness! AND common sense!
    Jean | DelightfulRepast.com recently posted…Perfect Pound CakeMy Profile

    1. Yes! That’s so true! We definitely need more kindness and common sense! Thanks so much for stopping by!

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