I read this news story earlier today and I can’t stop thinking about it.
My first reaction was, of course, was “poor babies, poor poor babies”. To think of a baby (and a toddler) to be hungry, to be feeling that gnawing ache, to be crying for milk, for comfort, for food that isn’t coming…it makes my stomach clench.
My second reaction is also probably predicable. How could they? What the hell is wrong with them? I think about the parents, not just the mother, the parents and I cannot fathom how they could do this to their babies. I am generally a pacifist by nature. I don’t like violent movies, I don’t support the death penalty, I am opposed to physical punishment for children and yet? I want to harm them. I have a visceral anger toward them, an almost palatable urge to shake them, to punch them, to hurt them.
It seems clear that the mother is mentally ill, almost certainly eating disordered, definitely with post-partum depression. The father is a bit more of a mystery. Where was he? Why didn’t he feed them?
I can’t help but think that the mother’s mind must be a terribly dark and confused place. I hope she gets help (I also hope she gets punished and loses the custody of those children).
Perhaps what troubles me is the sense of relief that I have. No matter how messed up I was when I was eating disordered, I need to believe that I was never this bad. That I would never, ever have inflicted my own issues on to a child. I was never anorexic (but, oh, in the haze of it all, how I wished I was sometimes) so I was never rigidly restrictive with food for myself so I don’t think I would have been with a child. I feel certain though that I would not have been a good mother in those days. I just don’t know how bad and what form it would have taken. That scares me a little.
One of the hardest parts of becoming a parent has been that I know that not every baby or child is loved and safe like my baby Monkey is. And that breaks my heart.