There have been so many tragedies occurring in the world lately. Sadly, there are tragedies each and every day, but for some reason an alligator and gorilla have really set people off.
First and foremost, I send my condolences to both of these families, especially the Graves who lost their son. It is an unimaginable loss. I am not sure they will ever read this, because if I saw the hate being thwarted at me after the loss of my son, I would throw my phones and computer at the wall. Of that I am certain. But, on the less than 1% chance that they do first and foremost let me say it was not your fault. From one parent to another, you did everything you could. You wrestled an alligator. As a parent, how in the world are we supposed to prepare for something like that? Secondly, there are parents on your side. There is a world full of real parents, who realize this could have been them and would never, ever blame or judge you for your actions.
So, here is my question to the parents who are playing the blaming game. When did you become so mother-loving perfect? I would really like to pinpoint when we all thought it was okay to be so judgmental toward others.
Let’s take a stroll through time. I was born in the eighties, my mom had six children. She told me that if she was with a group of women and a baby was hungry another mother would nurse them. It wasn’t even a big deal. They did not battle about breast or bottle and she barely remembers how she fed us, because no one cared. As long as you were feeding your child, the world was happy.
Throughout the nineties I remember a childhood of freedom. We would roam the streets on our bikes and look out for one another. If there were younger children one adult would sit outside and help everyone out, no questions asked. We ate homemade desserts every day and dishes served with high fructose corn syrup. Canned fruit was considered healthy and grains were at the top of the food pyramid.
Next, we have the early 2000’s. I am going to be honest with you I was in my early teen years at this time and pretty self-focused. However, what I do remember is babysitting a newborn when I was 12, plus two other kids. My mom would drive me there and the kid’s mother would drive me home. It wasn’t even a big deal to babysit at such a young age. Also, I am pretty sure I was given something like $10.00 for the night. I do remember minimum wage was about $4.00. Things sure were different.
Then, came the era of 2010. Organic foods have hit the shelf, social media has become public company and everyone has access to it via their phones and computers. I remember the first hateful comments I saw on Facebook. A woman was chastising another woman and guess where it was happening? A parenting site. I already had my first child at this point and vowed I would never view the public pages again, because people were awful. I did, at one point, begin my own page to get others to be more kind it was called If You Can’t Say Something Nice. However, I took it down, because I was too scared to type publicly via Facebook. My heart would pound in my chest as I tried to defend these innocent women on the internet, I never should have stopped.
Now, it is 2016. The age of public social media, it doesn’t scare me anymore, because it is so common. Internet “studies” are conducted every day, everyone has an opinion and is an expert in something. So, where did that perfect parenting come in? Do we have our organic foods, baby-wearing and know-it-all mentality to blame? I cannot blame social media entirely. It does make it easier to state your opinion, but there is this little thing called self-control. You can stop yourself before you type something rude, that definitely is not it. I do believe online studies have had an effect. We read something and it says the word study and think “oh, that must be true.” Let me clear this up for you, anyone can do a “study” and type out the results, that does not make it true. Even if results are conclusive, some take years and years and need the next ten years of data to actually prove relevance, which could be entirely different. Side note, I am not an expert, look up the scientific method and read where the study has been conducted before making your final decisions.
So, while I would like to blame social media, bad studies or really the internet in general, it comes down to one thing. You. You as a person. When you have such a sense of entitlement about yourself that you believe nothing terrible will happen to your child, I am not sure there is a way to talk you down. I would like to take the time to convince every person that random, freakish terrible things just happen to people, but there will still be those who disagree with me. That is, until it happens to you. Until your child, takes that fall, hits their head just right and the inevitable happens. They are hurt, they are not responding, you were standing right there, but now you are rushing them to the emergency room, praying that they will be okay.
Until you have your very own gut-dropping moment you will still condemn those, because you are better, right? No, you’re not and I truly hope this never, ever happens to you and if it does I pray you are not condemned as these poor parents have been.
I have seen some hope and an outpouring of love as other fellow writers about how we all need to be more kind and give these parents our understanding and grace. I wholeheartedly agree with them and challenge you to remember this every time you post to social media. Not only for the big, heartbreaking stories that make headlines, but also those small stories. When a man or woman has the courage to speak up about co-sleeping and their child has been harmed, when a mom chooses to breastfeed publicly, even if it is something small you happen to disagree with, do not condemn these parents. We are not perfect, we all think differently and want different ideals for our families.
Remember compassion, my friends. That is what this world really needs.