Empathy sure is a muscle, and being a parent has worked mine until it’s hard as steel.

I’m hardened every day by the judgment parents get for… oh, every little thing. Affording others no nuance whatsoever, or any trust that they’re doing what’s right for them? Yeah, that hits right in the satisfaction centers of the brain, doesn’t it. The mean little monkey parts. It takes real work to get over that desire to pick others apart to feel better about yourself.

Sure, maybe the reason I immediately thought of for why this particular kid was in a stroller wasn’t the actual reason, but… that’s because there are so many! And if you keep flexing that impulse to extend empathy towards your fellow person (and parent), you get better at finding them.

Having come through my own gauntlet of judgment from all sides, it just feels more and more crucial to look back and try not to pay that forward onto other people. I’ve really tried, and… I like it here, actually. It feels a lot better, striving to feel better and be better on this side, rather than the other one.