04 August 2014

About that Mom who "forgot" her baby

First of all, I am putting "forgot" in quotation marks, because this was not a case of "forgetting." This was not a case of thinking, "Oh, I will leave my baby in the hot car for a few minutes and come back and she will be fine." This was a case of evolutionary, your own brain tricks you into thinking the baby is safe in the crib sleeping like she always is when x, y, and z happened first, with disastrous results.

I found out about this tragedy on Friday, and I did not believe it. I did not believe it for several reasons.

1. I know this woman very well. I grew up in the same neighborhood, play with the same friends, and attend the same gym as her. I know that she has occasionally quit going to the gym regularly because she was uncomfortable with the childcare situation. I know that she chose a job she could work at home in order to have opportunities to provide her own personal care for her children. I know that she does not bring her older children to the park on days when she knows friends will be there unless her husband is home to listen for the baby, because she does not like to interrupt her child's sleep. This is the kind of mother to whom this has happened.

2. After reading extensively about how this has happened, I realized that I did not believe it because I did not want to believe it. My brain, and by my brain I mean all of our civilized brains, are hardwired to make meaning and sense out of the world. And this doesn't make sense. We all know what happens to babies in hot cars. We don't want to believe it could happen to us, and so we must vilify the person it happens to in order to make ourselves feel better. But I know this woman. I could not vilify her, because I know her. She is an unusually good parent. I have seen articles going around about how to not forget your child in the car, and I didn't read them because I thought "Who forgets their child in the car?"

Now that I have read these articles, which you should stop and read right now,

Huffington Post
The Washington Post

about how and to whom it happens, I am struggling not only with grief for my friend, but with terror that it will happen to me. Because if it could happen to her, it could happen to anyone. It could happen to my husband. It could happen to a grandparent who was babysitting my child. It could happen to you. And if you still don't believe that after reading those articles, it's because you don't want to believe, and you (and your child) are in danger. 

A few years ago, my sister was in a terrible accident which left her unable to use her left hand for a long time. Many people prayed for her. Many people offered to help. But there were a select few individuals, who, rather than offer help, actually thought of something on their own and had the courage to make it happen.

One of those people was this woman. She contacted all of my sister's friends, asked them to write loving messages on hearts. She brought the hearts over to my sister's house, and taped them all over the wall. So when my sister, who was wondering if she would ever be able to easily chop vegetables, dress herself, or braid the hair of her first baby girl (who had been born in the middle of the whole ordeal)--when my sister got up every morning, she had a visual reminder of all of the people who loved her. I heard my sister say many, many times what a difference that made.

And now, this kind and tender-hearted woman has suffered an unimaginable loss, which will stay with her for the rest of her life in a way that is worse than every parent's worst nightmare, including mine. So to any internet trolls who have the indecency to say one bad word about her: Shut up. You don't know.