In the last few days, you might have seen an article floating around your social media sphere: "Motherhood In The Age Of Fear". Wow! It was so eye-opening, such a "duh" moment of confirmation, and so enraging. Once in a while, you read something that so perfectly encapsulates feelings you weren't even aware you had. The author, Kim Brooks, herself was arrested for leaving her kid in the car.
Now, before you go casting judgment on Brooks, consider this: do you think sometimes it's OK to let your kid have a moment of unsupervised play? Or are children only safe when they're under constant watch?
Brooks spent several minutes fighting a cantankerous four-year-old before making her own judgment call. She applied the child lock, cranked the A/C on an already cool day, and left the car running. Within minutes, she was back out to her car and on her way. It wasn't until weeks later that she learned someone had witnessed her do this and had reported her to the police. Despite having an otherwise flawless track record as a mother, Brooks was now marked with the ultimate maternal scarlet letter - Abandoner.
Isn't that a bit over-reaching, though? It was a cool day, so her child wasn't at risk of overheating. The car was locked, so no one could easily or surreptitiously kidnap the child by stealing the vehicle. Brooks was gone for mere minutes - with a child in a car seat watching videos in her car, safe from any potential poisons or sharp objects or hazards. Have we become so conditioned to think that we, total strangers, are in a place to condemn other parents without knowing the whole story?
When Debra Harrell was unable to find childcare for her 9-year-old daughter, she took her to a nearby, well-populated, safe park. Then, she went to work her shift at McDonald's. Before her shift ended, Debra found herself under arrest. Look - this might not the *ideal* decision. Even Debra admits she would rather have had childcare for her daughter. But it speaks to a system that is much more damning than any one act by an otherwise wonderful mom. Without access to affordable childcare, the poorest among us are often unable to work - which of course, means they'll remain in poverty.
Thirty years ago, our parents let us roam the streets of our hometowns "until the street lights came on". Today? We're inundated by the weapon of fear. Fear our children will be kidnapped, sold into sex trafficking, shot while sitting in math class, bullied to the point of severe depression, groomed by a pedophile, or outright murdered. And while we can put numbers to the probability of any of those things happening, we can't predict which person is going to be the one to call the police on us because they saw us swat our kid in the Target parking lot. This isn't just mothering through fear our children will be harmed. It's mothering in a time where we've been taught that we must fear one another. That our rational and reasonable decisions will be used against us, as moral judgments on our parenting skills.
More to explore tomorrow: The disparity between motherhood and fatherhood in the age of fear.
Have you ever wanted to run to the cart return at Aldi but felt scared someone might see you leaving your kid alone for twenty seconds? Me too. Let's break through that fear together - @pi3sugarpi3.