Wednesday, May 16, 2007

jen passes judgment

I have a neighbor I really like. She lives down the street with her husband and two kids. We've not spent much time together outside of random park encounters, but there have been quite a few of those over the past few years.

But her husband, see, I want to kick him in the shin. And yes, I am passing major judgment based on little information. He's from another part of the world. He's very good looking. Enjoys nice cars. He's got a great tattoo. And I've never seen him with his children. Never once alone, never once as a couple unless it's been in their yard at home. Never once.

She's with them by herself every single time. She's a terrific mom, very kind, patient, grounded. And overworked, tired, alone. Again, this is based on little information. We never talk about this. Even though every time I am with her I want to. And yet, the kinder thing seems to not pursue it. She's dropped small comments, nothing elaborate, it's told me enough. I've opened the door, and she's not walked through. The kinder thing seems to not pursue it.

I bet that before they had kids it was different, but now she's the mother, she has a job to do. And the game is on, don't bother me.

I am passing judgment. I might be wrong, I don't think so, but it's possible. And it's clearly none of my business. And curiouser still is why it bothers me so. This has nothing to do with me, impacts my life in virtually no way at all. And yet I care, I care because I know now what it takes to raise a child; the pain and exhaustion, the joy and laughter. If I had to do it alone, I would and I could. It's not about that. It's about having someone right there next to you who chooses not to do his part.

That's what makes me want to kick him in the shin. But more than that, it's interesting what my reaction says about me. Something very distant from my peace love and understanding frame of mind, and I am not entirely sure I like that, either. Perhaps I should be kicking myself instead.

On a different note, I had the chance to drive a fancy green hybrid this month. Check out my review over here and see for yourself.

39 comments:

Pendullum said...

We have the same type of guy out here...and oddly enough it wasmy husband who pointed him out... not a good looking guy with sports cars but the pseudo intellectual... brooding at the coffee shop philosophizing while his wife does all the childcare...
And as a result of this observation, it has made me silently angry with him whenever I pass him with his intellecual groupies talking about Sartre...

kristen said...

No kicks to yourself. I think it's compassion that makes you want to kick the dude in the shin (although I prefer a good ol' game of roshambo, South Park style), when one needs to kick. (=

My contractor is this type of man - shows up to play with the kids, spoils them with kisses but his wife is the care-giver. When they had their 2nd kid I asked how everyone was sleeping and he said he was sleeping fine, but his wife was very tired and he laughed. And I thanked myself for having a partner that wants to parent instead of just being the dad.

QT said...

Ugh. Don't chide yourself for having good radar. I know one of these and he just can't understand why his wife is so tired when she gets to stay home all day with two kids. Jerk face.

mayberry said...

You are just being sympathetic, a member of the sisterhood of tired mamas!

NotSoSage said...

It's so hard, isn't it? So hard to guess that someone is not pulling their weight but not having any say in the matter. Especially when they don't realise how lucky they are.

I think it takes two to insist on it taking two. Which sucks, because in the short term, that means more work for the one doing the most. But I think if one generation is ever to learn and pass it on to the next, someone's got to give them a little push. Is that too cryptic?

thailandchani said...

I'm not too surprised you had those feelings. We all do at one time or another.

I could say more here.. but will leave it at that.


Peace,

~Chani

Beck said...

Passing judgement is fun! A friend of mine is married to this guy who ON PAPER should be great, but you walk into their bathroom and there are her minimalistic, inexpensive products - one shampoo, one cheap moisturizer - and dozens of pricy things for him, and he is EXACTLY that sort of guy, this spoiled baby and she's the mom of everyone.

Mrs. Chicky said...

Guys like that (and I find those snap judgements to be pretty spot on) make me want to kick them... But not in the shin.

cinnamon gurl said...

Ah yes... I have a friend who doesn't seem very happy with her husband, who only ever seems to say negative stuff about him (although maybe I only HEAR negative stuff), and I can't help it. I don't like it. I've only met him once... but he sounds like a real ass.

Like kristen said, maybe it's less about judgment and more about compassion for your friend (and mine..)

Ooh, but like Sage said, I also think it takes two...

AND like Beck said, passing judgment is fun! ;)

Anonymous said...

Here, let me lend you my steel-toed cowboy boots. I've used them every time a friend of mine tells me that her husband doesn't spend any time with their daughter...or when he does, he's there, but not there, ya know what I mean.

I know a couple of partnerships like this...the man brings home the bacon and that's it...the mom does everything else. Is it coincidence that these men are from another country as well??

...and I always ask myself this rhetorical question: WHY THE FUCK ARE THESE MEN HAVING CHILDREN IF THEY CAN'T BE A "PRESENT" FATHER?? THEY SHOULD KEEP THEIR EGO-DRIVEN SHLONGS IN THEIR PANTS!!

Jen, I annoys me to know end...because like you I KNOW what it takes to raise a family. So yeah, I'm joinning the judmental moms.

And Jen...my friend, the one I mentioned above, she started off in our new friendship with little comments here and there...one day I said, "you've been dropping alot of hints that you're not happy with the way things are at home. If you need to talk, vent or scream, I'll hear you out..." She did and I did, and I think it's what she needed to hear...that it was okay to complain about her husband, especially to another woman who gets it. Maybe this woman is looking for the same opening?? Just a thought...

Lil

Tabba said...

I have a friend who is in a similar "family management" predicament. And a kick in the shins is a bed of roses compared with how I feel about her husband. I know him. I know their situation. And I want to shake him. To hear her tired, desperate voice. To hear the kids. The lonely, the floating, far-away sound in her voice.
She needs a break.
And he surely won't give it to her.
Oh, except to go to the grocery store.

kgirl said...

You're allowed to have an opinion, and it's ok if you don't think highly of every single person you meet. You don't even have to have a good reason.

But it sounds like you do.

s@bd said...

I never want to do this thing alone (although, like you, if I had to, I would and I could). It's possible you're not passing judgement but expressing your concern for your friend (although you know yourself pretty well and you are honest with yourself sooo ... probably a bit of both).

(And now that Falwell's gone, I'm gonna' need to put MY judgement somewhere. Maybe I'll trade up to your neighbour's husband ...)

metro mama said...

There are times when it is OK to pass judgment, and this is one of them.

I hate it when I see men like this.

And you're wrong that it doesn't impact you--it affects us all, because he is a role model to the child who will either grow up to marry our daughters, or grow up not expecting much from her husband.

slouching mom said...

i agree with metro mama. though it is a banner day when jen passes judgment, sometimes it's ok to pass judgment. when the situation is just that clear, for example.

Karen Forest said...

Absolutely no kicks to self.

You are the person you are because you see people for who you believe they truly are....

and he is truly NOT a likable guy.

Any father who chooses not to be with, and spend time with, their OWN children deserves to be kicked.... and NOT in the shins.

Mad Hatter said...

We all pass judgement. It's what we do with it that matters. I don't think you would ever pass judgement to self-aggrandize or justify your own way of being. You are not like that. Most of the time when judgement is passed, it serves a different purposes than just addressing a perceived injustice. I've been meaning to write a post about this but I never seem to get around to it.

crazymumma said...

In the midst of my marital discontent a couple of weeks ago, I remembered and recognized and appreciated the type of father mr mumma is and will always be. That alone was enough for me to get over my pouty needs and carry on.

Anyhoooo.

I wonder, if these are very young children this couple has, perhaps he will be more involved as they get older? Going all pollyanna on you I know, but there is always a chance yes?

Its great that you opened the door, but my instinct tells me that perhaps the mother is embarrassed by the lack of involvement on his part.

We all judge sometimes....

Gwen said...

One time my neighbor told me this story about how she had all this laundry to do and how she was pouting around the house doing it while her husband watched tv or some other relaxing offense and she was so mad at him. But she never told him. She just expected him to notice and do something.

I don't know that judgment is incompatible with compassion. Like Mad, I agree that it's what you do with the judgment that matters.

I always feel sorry for the dads who won't get involved in their children's lives; don't they know what they're missing out on? I wonder.

flutter said...

I have a feeling if you keep that door open, she'll walk through.

Kyla said...

I agree with Mad, we all judge. It is what we do with it that matters.

I hate men like that. Children need fathers who are participatory. Wives and mothers need husbands and fathers who do their share. Raising these small people into responisble, caring, well-adjusted adults is a task that needs all hands on deck.

Of course, there are so many facets to these situations. Maybe she likes taking care of things on her own. Maybe she hasn't let him know helping is required or desired. Maybe he's an inconsiderate ass. Maybe he needs a kick in the shin. You never really know for sure. ;)

Oh, The Joys said...

I have a friend who does all the parenting. I find it really hard to relate to or understand her husband.

Momish said...

Passing judgement is a natural event we all do! You are just uncomfortable with passing a bad judgement, bless your heart! But, unfortunately, sweety, there are shitty people in the world. Recognizing thier shittiness is just being observant.

I hope your neighbor eventually opens up to you. She doesn't know the kindness and understanding she is missing. And, I am sure she could use some kindness and understanding, with a husband like that. It is too hard to do on your own if it need not be that way.

Cristi said...

You didn't pass judgement in an ugly way. You came to a conclusion based on the data you collected that he might be (most probably is) a slacker when it comes to parental duties.

Good for you to care enough to pay attention!

meno said...

I want to kick him in the shins because, if what you say is true at all, his kids are missing out on having an involved dad. And that just sucks.

Joker The Lurcher said...

there is no need to always be a fluffy liberal! it is easy to think stuff is cultural but there are loads of guys who are good dads from all over the world and there are loads of guts who are shit dads. at the end of the day it is what sort of people they are.

KC said...

Jerk face is right.

That's my judgment and I'm sticking to it.

I saw a patient once who wanted me to practically lie on a form for him so he wouldn't lose his driver's license from being a deadbeat dad with tens of thousands of dollars owed for back child support.

That doesn't go down well for me.

I think you have to pass judgment...in order to defend and help the oppressed.

carrie said...

Just make sure you keep that door open, she may come banging on it someday.

And I don't think you're being judgemental at all, just concerned and compassionate about those around you. Nothin' wrong with that!!!!

Carrie

Aliki2006 said...

I know people like that--one who is a female, actually, and her husband does most of the parenting. And this is odd--my reaction to the thought of a *husband* like that is more negative and stronger--what does that say about me?!

Bon said...

i remember the conversation about judgement (in a totally different context) that went around at HBM's a couple of months ago, and i still have the same thing to say...we all make judgements. yours wasn't ugly, nor cruel, nor likely unfair. he probably makes his own, and most of us here would probably like to kick his judgements about his role and his wife and his kids right in the nutsack, but...they're his, and he has his right to make them just as we all make our own. they are reflections of how we think the world should be.

and i don't think it makes us less decent people to make them, so long as making them doesn't become a defining characteristic of how we see ourselves or relate to others.

without judgements being passed, nothing would ever be deemed wrong.

and i have no problem saying that being a completely uninvolved dad living in the same house is wrong. works for some, but causes a lot of pain and misery for others.

Binky said...

What I find interesting isn't your judgement (we all pass judgement in our lives), but some of the comments. You didn't give much information about the particulars (nor should you have to), but everyone just assumed this guy is a complete and total dick. I can see where you would make a more-or-less informed judgement, being the one who knows this woman and her husband. But based on the info you gave, I think it's unfair of everyone to start picking up stones and throwing them at this man. It's dangerous when we don't ask questions, when we take things at fuzzy face value. As readers, we don't know how many hours a day he works, or if he participates in the children's bedtime rituals, or if they hop in the car and go for little day trips together when he can find the time. We don't know.

For you to pass judgement, being in the situation, is one thing. But for 30 of us commenters to carry the torch when we actually have no idea why it's burning is another.

Or am I crazy?

Cristi said...

Binky makes a good point in saying that too many people condemned
the husband with little information (even Jen pointed this out in
her post).

Watch out for the power of suggestion and intellectual inbreeding. Emotions cloud reason and lead us further from the truth.

Anonymous said...

You're not crazy Binky...maybe just not triggered like I was (an maybe other commenters)when I read this. I wrote here what I really have been unable to say to my mom friends because I'm afraid it would hurt their feelings. Who the hell wants to hear what they may already suspect in their hearts??

Your words have not gone unheard Binky...thank you...

Lil
www.lillithmother.blogspot.com

Carrie said...

I think it's perfectly ok to be concerned with your neighbors. It may be none of your business, but it's something moms do, especially if the husband is away for work.

ewe are here said...

Sometimes it's hard not to judge I've found.

My husband has a cousin who's married to 'the same guy', and I cannot for the life of me imagine why she had a second child with him. From what I could see, he'd spent almost zip time alone with the first one, leaving his wife to pretty much do it all (or her sisters, the doting aunties). Drove me nuts to see him practically ignoring the boy - and if the boy shows no interest in and talent for sports, I sense he never will show any real interest.

The Holmes said...

I feel sorry for everybody in a situation like that. The mom for all the obvious reasons, the kids because they'll grow up with a distant father, which of course leads to its own set of issues, and the father for all he's missing out on. And when the day comes that those guys wake up and realize what they've missed out on, I sure as hell would not want to be in their shoes.

Denguy said...

I have many friends like him.
So many dads I know barely see their own children and do virtually no parenting.

They are shocked at the amount of time I spend with mine.

I usually tell them things like: "Sucks to be you."
But I'm blunt like that sometimes.

The Expatriate Chef said...

Regarding the takes two thought, well, you can have the same argument about 100 times, and all you are doing is adding arguing to the mix. At a certain point, you just need to focus on raising your child, and channel your energy into laughter and love and that child. Maybe, if the husband is not any good at being a father, the child is better off. The husband the one that loses out, tremendously. But it is oh-so-hard to take the high road. Oh so hard not to kick some shins.

Bob said...

Maybe you need some time to know him more inorder to understand their true situation. We can't just judge someone without even knowing what factors could have made him be like that.