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Friday, March 30, 2012

What kind of mother is she?

"Watch kids around water!!!"

I see this everywhere. Or maybe I don't see it everywhere, but when I do see it, I'm extra sensitive to it. It's as if it appears to me italicized, bolded, underlined, with three exclamation points.

Probably because when I see it, I'm reminded of that day and I feel like it's someone yelling at me, specifically.

Remember? Watch your kids! We don't want to have to tell you again!

It's warmer this year and the warmth came earlier than usual to some parts of the country. I've unfortunately already heard about near drownings and drownings, which are actually not weather specific but they do tend to increase during the warmer months for obvious reasons.

When I see these tragic stories online, I've ventured to the comments section and I'm reminded of what people think of mothers like me.

Why wasn't she watching her kid?!

She should be thrown in jail!

Where was his mother?!

It's neglect!

She should burn in hell!

What kind of mother doesn't keep an eye on her toddler every second of the day?

What kind of MOTHER IS SHE?

And I've seen worse. It's not surprising, but it takes me back to that time. I used to be that person. The person that rationalized why it wouldn't happen to me and my child because I took precaution xyz so that would never happen to us. It's a coping mechanism and I get it.

But then it happened to me.

The comments don't sting so much for me anymore because I've dealt (am dealing) with my guilt. I'm totally stealing this from a good friend who said having her accident happen on her watch was a gift. I don't walk around with anger toward anyone else. I know exactly what happened, there is no question. And I have no one else to blame but myself. That is, ironically, a gift. It's manageable. It's something I have worked on.

"What kind of mother is she?!"

Well, let me tell you.

I take my oldest to football practice and my youngest to ISR so she'll know how to save herself should she fall into a pool (and she does know how to save herself). I exclusively breastfed all of my children and started them on their first solids - a banana - at around six months old. I covered all of the electrical outlets with plastic covers and the bottom cabinets are also baby proofed. I put my kids to sleep on their side or back without stuffed animals or blankets in the crib to avoid suffocation. I took all my babies to baby gymboree classes and stayed home with each one of them for at least some portion of their babyhood. I questioned vaccines, refusing to consent to the chicken pox vaccine twelve years ago.

I'm not trying to prove that I'm a good mother, but I'm trying to point out that I don't consider any of the above within the definition of neglect. I did everything other mothers do to take care of their babies. I don't take comments on random articles to heart so much for myself, but I do get protective of other moms. Moms just like me. Moms who love their children, but made a mistake. Maybe there was distraction involved, maybe miscommunication, whatever the cause, it is a far cry from neglect. And to reason away the fact that something like this could never happen to you negates that there are accidents in this world. You get comfortable with your surroundings thinking you know the layout and cause and effect at every turn in your own home. And then you're proven wrong.

The worst mistake you can make is to think an accident of great magnitude will never happen to you.

8 comments:

Lupita said...

Shauna,
I have a friend who has told me that he thinks that in the time he's known me, my friends and I seem to go through an unusual amount of difficulties. Looking back on it, I could see why he'd think that.

You know what? The women I'm blessed to have in my life are strong. One day I told him that sometimes I believe that there is a certain amount of difficulty that has to exist in the world to create a balance. God, the universe, whatever you believe in, knew we would be able to handle these challenges, not just based on our individual strength, but also because we have good people in our lives. We also seem to have something in us that grows from our challenges.

Not every one is like that. They'd crumble or grow bitter or make the lives of others hell. So when something else hits, I think, this was put on my plate to protect someone who can't handle this.

In turn, we also seem to be given a lot more joy, love, and friends in our lives. Must be that balance thing.

You are amazing. I find your strength and spirit awe inspiring.

Lupita

Rebecca said...

This is very powerful! Thank you for writing this. It is all too easy to think we are immune to tragedy and sadly it is all to easy to judge others to help perpetuate that immunity even further. My son's metabolic disease is considered on the mild side compared to others, but I have never called myself lucky. That would imply that others are unlucky if their child is more effected. It is what it is. I didn't do anything better to get a child less effected.

You are a good mom, you are a great mom! Thank you so much for writing.

Anonymous said...

I am a special education teacher who began scouring blogs for ideas. I have become hooked on yours. I am a mother as well, and I appreciate your honesty and strenghth so much. As a mother, we all make mistakes. Some bigger than others, more apparent than others. But it's part of the ride. You have an amazing ability to overcome, and I can't wait to read about Christians progress. Thank you, honestly.
" we are, all of us failures. The man in real trouble is the man who thinks he's perfectly safe."

Beth Anderson said...

Sadly, I know exactly how you feel. After Owen's near drowning, I imagined our entire community saying that about me. Then a good friend told me, "that's why it's called an accident. It could happen to any one of us." In the weeks and months following Owen's accident, I kept replaying the entire event in my mind -- if only I'd done this . . . if only he hadn't done that . . . shoulda, woulda, coulda. Our entire family was at the party where Owen had his accident. I spent months telling my older children that "it was nobody's fault." What I don't tell them is that I blame myself. I don't think the guilt will ever go away, but I am trying not to dwell on it as much. As Owen's sweet German babysitter said to me in the hospital, "what's done is done. Now we just love and take care of him."

I have read your blogs and know what you do for your family. I think you are a wonderful mother.

lucilovesraspberries said...

As always Shauna, you said it just right. You are an awesome mom and person. It is a mystery to me why some people (like the commenters you are talking about) are mean rather than compassionate but it is their loss - it has to feel bad to be that kind of person.

Pam Crawford said...

Bravo!

ShaunaQ said...

All of you are amazing! Thanks so much for reading and understanding.

Jen said...

Oh Shauna...so powerful. I have so much more to write on this post and am really not quite sure how I missed this one, because I commented on the one after this, but I will have to come back at a time when it's not almost 4 am. Also, I need to make sure I haven't taken my stupid headache medication before I write : )

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