/> a mother's heart » Blog Archive » parenting: the criminal and regular kind

Mark came up to our room on Sunday morning, all “het up” and irritated. I inquired about his state of being and he said there was a 2-week old baby who was hospitalized. While sad, I didn’t see the point~two-week babies are sometimes hospitalized. Then he said the baby had been bleeding from orifices that suggested she had been abused.

My initial response was, “Hang ’em from the highest tree. I’ll bring the rope.” And I still feel that way. Childhood is a time of innocence, and for criminal minds and hearts to *steal* that and to cause pain and injury in pursuit of *their* twisted pleasure is deserving of not much more than a tree and rope. But after about 10 minutes of self-righteous anger and disgust, I realized that I hadn’t thought at all about this 2-week old baby. Only my need for vengeance.

This infant will likely be remanded to the custody of the state for a time, and then they’ll look to put her back in her biological family~even if it’s her extended bio family. Which doesn’t give me much hope, because the criminals she has for parents were probably raised in the same extended bio family, and they didn’t turn out so well. But my heart broke for this baby and the pain and trauma that has been handed her so early in life. It’s incredibly unfair. And according to my definition of “unfair” (which I remind Brendan of regularly), that being “Children who don’t have enough food and water or parents who love them or families to hold them,” she really is getting the short end of the stick. Yet all I could do was remind God of how He loves her and that He is the only one Who can heal her pain and give her a new start. I hope the State does the right thing in placement of this child, but I don’t hold out a lot of hope there. This is the same State-system that is overburdened and understaffed and that permitted the beating-death of a 4-year old boy in foster care just last year.

And in the same “sick-parenting-files,” we heard on the local news last night of the parents who are being investigated after their son was admitted to a Detroit hospital with burns on a third of his body. The investigation lead police to the house where they live and they found BONES in the attic. Apparently (as the story goes), their first son died and they didn’t have money to cremate him, so they tried to do it on their own on the grill. The bones would not burn, so they stashed them in the attic rafters. I simply cannot imagine what possessed them to do such a thing. Now an anthropologist and the medical examiner will try to determine what the cause of death was for this little boy, and their second child will likely be put in the foster care system as his case is investigated, too.

What is this world coming to?

Now juxtapose these two stories, as gruesome as they are, against the following two.

My friend Andrea has two daughters. One is 2.5, the other is a newborn. The newborn is a classical “high needs baby” who is typically unhappy if she’s not being held actively by her mom. My friend is doing this amazing juggling-job between a 2-year old whom she doesn’t want to neglect while caring for the infant, but also needing to balance her own sanity and her family-life. And her husband is in the final stages of medical-fellowship, so his schedule is pretty demanding.

So my friend is in Target the other day and the baby is “howling,” as she puts it, but is safely in her carseat in the cart. The trip is almost over, but the “howling” continues. And someone (God love ’em) from another aisle over says just loud enough for Andrea to hear, “What ARE you doing to that baby?” And of course, it was just snarky enough to truly wound a new, tired mom with a crying infant and a 2-year old. I told her she should have said, “I’m PINCHING her, can’t you tell?”

And then there are the people in Babies R Us who are staring at a crying baby in the carseat (whom has just been fed in the feeding area) and about whom the clerk who says, “Take her out of the carseat!” Andrea’s reply was, “So two minutes from now when I have to navigate the parking lot and put her back in she can howl all over again?” To which the clerk says, “Well, maybe you’ll feed her in the car.” Andrea was ready to slap the clerk, because she had *just* fed the baby. As she says, “If you don’t have a pat on the back, an ‘atta girl’, or a chocolate bar to offer, don’t talk to me about my baby. Because those are the things I need the most right now.”

My sister Amy just had Lindsey Elise, and as a new-mom with all sorts of worries, she’s experiencing all sorts of postpartum emotions. New babies are just a bundle of raw nerve endings, trying to figure out where their warm, dark, and cozy house went. They cry at the most inopportune times over what seems to be nothing, but over which new moms can bludgeon themselves to death, imagining all sorts of horrors and speaking all kinds of self-condemning words to themselves.

Lindsey had a rough patch the other day, and Amy was convinced that it was because she had taken a dose of Mylanta to calm her stomach and that it had made her breastmilk harmful to the baby. So as a responsible, if not somewhat paranoid new-mom, she “pumped and dumped,” and gave Lindsey a bottle. As she’s telling me this, I’m running down the ingredients in Mylanta in my head and realizing that there is nothing in it that is inherently harmful to babies; in fact, the simethicone in it is the same thing in Mylicon drops, which are regularly fed to babies. Brendan lived on a steady diet of Mylicon drops, in fact.

So I tried to comfort her with stories of my own foibles as a new mom and reassured her that her milk was perfectly fine. She said she felt better, and I told her that all new moms face this, but the important thing to remember was that feeding your baby and loving your baby are the two things she needs the most right now. Well, that and sleep. But newborns will sleep and sleep and sleep. They can’t feed themselves and love themselves, so we have to do that for them. I firmly believe that no matter *how* you feed your baby, feeding your baby is the critical thing. And loving your baby~protecting them from harm and holding them~this is what a baby needs to grow and thrive. If you’re doing these things, no matter what the world would like to guilt you in to believing, you’re doing a great job as a mom.

I wish there were more stories of Andreas and Amys in this world and fewer of the criminal-parents I started this post with. I am grateful for the good moms and my heart breaks for the babies who won’t know that sort of love~at least, not from the moms who gave birth to them..

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Category: life musings
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