Contrary to what seems to be popular belief, not all mothers who hurt their children are psychopathic monsters. For the most part, they’re just like everyone else, trying to do the best they can and sometimes, they lose their way. When you’re wracked with pain, for whatever the reason, pushed to the wall with the belief that there is no help to be found, you make irrational decisions.
When there are children involved, these decisions have even more tragic consequences. And yes, there’s always some mental health issue involved, but who today does not have some disorder. Yet, there seems to be this conditioned response that we should revile any mother who hurts her own child, on the same level as pedophilic predators. I agree that there are some who are at that level, but it’s not the norm. Why can’t we see them as women who’ve reached the end of their rope?
Should they be punished for their deeds? Depending on the severity, yes. But shouldn’t they also receive help? Who is standing up for them? Who is listening? Who is trying to figure out how to get to them before they run out of answers? There are no tests to pass, no forms to fill out or set restrictions for a woman without any medical restrictions to physically becoming a mother.
The stories that make the biggest splash in the news are the ones of ‘normal’ middle or upper class women hurting or attempting to harm their children. The women who everyone assumes will be the perfect mothers and never give it a second thought. Unfortunately the cost of the door that hides what’s going on behind the scenes makes no difference to human behavior. It is not only lower class families who are subject to abuse of any type.
It’s hard to imagine someone not caring about a child, but the truth is that when you reach suicidal depression, you don’t have the capacity to care for anything – your only thought is to end the pain. And if you don’t have anyone to entrust with your children, and you’re sure that leaving them to fend for themselves is condemning them to a life of pain such as yours, well you convince yourself that taking them with you is the right thing to do.
So how do we reach them before they get to the point of no return? Where does a woman turn when she needs help? There are so many people slipping through the cracks of our society. Too poor to obtain the help they need and making more money than the arbitrary line drawn by programs created to help the poor. They’re often without strong family ties or a close knit circle of support. They feel alone, lost and hopeless. They’re out there right now.
I want to tell their stories. I want to understand what’s missing. I want to assume the responsibility that is ours to try and fix a broken system. I want them to know that someone is listening. I want them to know that someone is hearing their cries.