Like many of you, I watched the video of a child falling into a gorilla habitat in horror, especially as he was dragged around a body of water like a ragdoll by his foot. I am still stunned that the child did not to drown or suffer any life-threatening injuries. I can’t imagine what it must have felt like to be that mom. And as I heard her voice calling out her son thaf “mommy’s right here,” just trying to offer him comfort in the midst of that trauma, I felt so much empathy for her.
Evidentially much of the collective internet did not feel so much empathy for this mom. I have seen people saying she should have been shot. That she should have been made to live in the gorilla habitat herself. I’ve seen many, many suggestions that she never should have had kids.
Here is the thing. I have something in common with this mother. Like her, I had four children in a small window of time, which meant I had a lot of little kids at once. Looking at her family photo, I resonate with the insanity of that stage of life. You are completely outnumbered and despite your best intentions, sometimes things go awry, simply because you have more kids than hands.
I have had a toddler walk out of the house and into the street. I have had a kid sneak into a neighbor’s backyard and jump on their trampoline. I’ve had a kid fall into a pool. I have had a kid get lost at a theme park. I’ve had a kid fall off a bicycle and into a busy street. Ive had a kid unstrap their car seat while I was driving. I’ve had kid bolt and run off into an area they shouldn’t be in. I’ve had a kid climb up something they shouldn’t while attending to another child. Fortunately for me, in all of those instances, nothing horrible happened, whether by a result of my own reflexes or by the help of a concerned bystander.
I am appalled at the notion that, should my kids have been harmed in any of these situations, that I would have been blamed. That the collective armchair parents of the Internet would circle like vultures to question my abilities as a parent, or suggest I should be hurt, or that my kids be taken away.
If you have been a part of the collective pile-on towards his mother, I hope you will reconsider. This kind of sanctimonious blaming does nothing for struggling mothers, and creates a hostile environment for parents with children. This could have happened to any mother of four kids. Instead of figuring out how it’s her fault, let’s figure out how to be a society that watches out for each other.