judgeA love note to anyone who might possibly be in a position to judge a working parent for pretty much anything right now:

Dear Everyone in My Life,

I hope you are holding up during these rough times.  Or, if you’d prefer: I hope you are doing as well as possible under the current the circumstances.  Or, perhaps: I hope you and your family are healthy in this incredibly difficult year.

I’m writing today with one – and only one – request of anyone I may interact with.  Yes you, my dear colleagues.  Managers.  Friends.  Family members.  Neighbors.  Friends.  Strangers.

My request is this: Please do not judge me right now.

I may not have responded to your e-mail with my usual speed.  My children may not have behaved with the politeness you expect of them.  I may have forgotten an important detail.  Your special day got overlooked.   My kid is walking around with a hole in his shirt.  While having a meltdown.  I haven’t uploaded the most recent homework assignment to your portal.  My text message lacked important formalities.  I raised my voice.  My logic was flawed.

Please do not judge me right now.

Shh.  Lean in closely, and I’ll tell you a secret.  Yes, it may appear that I’m holding it together.  Keeping a stiff upper lip.  Offering the reassuring words of comfort to those who need me.  And that’s all (partly) true.  But I’m also falling apart.  Fighting burnout every day right alongside every other working parent who is barely putting one foot in front of the other.


Please do not judge me right now.

You know that ruler you use to measure things in “normal” times?  Please put it away, at least for now.  (You can pull it back out after we’ve all been vaccinated.  Maybe.)  Instead, pull out the one made of taffy.  The one that stretches and helps me feel as though I’ve been enough and done enough just for today.

Tell me you believe in me.  Stuff my ballot box full of your votes of confidence.  That kind of voting isn’t illegal.

Please do not judge me right now.

If ever you wonder whether I notice the things left undone, messages unreturned, the answer is of course yes.  I race from one thing to the next, playing a whack-a-mole game that won’t end.  Worried about how I am failing you.  Failing myself.  Failing everyone.

Please do not judge me right now.

To those of you who have offered the purest of empathy and compassion, you are my heroes.  Without you I would already have succumbed daily to the depths of my own despair.  If you’ve told me “that’s so hard,” and “I see you, I’m here for you,” you have my unending devotion.  You are the leaders this world needs.  You are the best of friends and the kindest of family.  Indeed, you are what will get me through this.

With love and desperation,

Pandemic Working Parents


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