Almost immediately after blowing out the candles on my 13th birthday cake, I signed up for the red cross babysitting course. I’ve always been a kid person at heart. And probably a therapist too, because, for some reason, kids always shared pretty deep stuff with me. Sometimes their parents even solicited advice about how to connect with their kids better or manage certain unwanted behaviors.

Those experiences partially paved the way to my counseling practice, but I think they probably also made me an overly confident teenager (read that…*cocky). I thought I knew everything there was to know about child development, healthy relationships and parenting…well before I had children of my own.

Whether in the airport, the grocery store or a restaurant, I remember observing families and formulating all kinds of assessments:

“She has no control over her child. That kid rules the roost.”
“That dad is obviously too busy with work calls to pay attention to his kid. Poor little guy.”
“WHY would you let your 2 year old CRAWL on the floor at the AIRPORT?”

What an arrogant little twit I was.

Fast forward 20 years and now I’m a parent. And I’m sure there are PLENTY of people judging scenes from my day not realizing they are only viewing a snapshot of the big picture.

Recognizing and embracing the fact that I am an imperfect mother has given me a lot more compassion. These days, when I see a snapshot that isn’t particularly “flattering”, instead of judging, most of the time I’ll think, “Yep. Been there. It’s hard work being a mom.” Sometimes, I even send up a prayer. Everyone’s got a story. The rest of us just see snapshots. When we can recognize that, our compassion grows.