Today is a bad day.
All I feel is sadness about the difficulty of motherhood and how misunderstood and underestimated it is.
I was driving to Pants's new Montessori school to drop off some paperwork this morning when I heard the news on the radio of the mother in Texas who hanged her four daughters and herself. Three of her daughters died along with her. Her baby survived. The reporter's voice cracked as she read the report. I think my jaw may have actually dropped, then I just drove on in stunned silence. Cliches abound, but there you have it.
I just couldn't shake it all day. Later, I logged onto a mommy board I used to be fairly active on and read the inevitable thread about the hangings. I was surprised to find a lot of anger. Anger hadn't even occurred to me. I was only sad.
Much of the anger was over why this mother would do this to her children. A lot of it was over seemingly lenient punishments for surviving mothers in the past who have murdered their children.
"Not guilty by reason of insanity" being the lenient verdict. I admit, I favor states with the "Guilty by reason of insanity option." I feel like once the mother has been treated effectively, she is then closer to even... it is at that point that she should start serving time for her crime, as a different person than the one who committed it or not. But this is beside the point.
I can't stop thinking about what must have happened in that trailer. What her daughters must have been saying to her, crying to her. What she must have been saying to them and to herself to get through it. I feel the same way about that day in the home of Andrea Yates. I just can't stop thinking about it. Believe me, I want to stop, but something won't turn off.
I'm nothing but sad.
Then it happened again. Cheeks fell off the bed again. I want to throw up. I had laid down with him and nursed him to sleep, then snuck out of the room to call his dad and ask him to come in a different door when he came home from work so as not to wake up the baby. The idea was that I would then get back into bed with him until he woke up. In the seconds it took for me to make the call and get no answer, he woke up and crawled off the end of the bed.
I'm so sick over this that when I close my eyes I feel like I'm going to pass out. My head is swimming with guilt and grief and worry. Physically swimming.
He cried for a second. Nothing swelled this time. He was more stunned than anything. Nevertheless, I don't know how I'm going to sleep tonight. What is wrong with me? How could I let this happen again? Am I that careless? What is wrong with me? What if I had ran back in to find him still and silent on the floor rather than stunned and moving and then crying?
Then I think of this mothering instinct to protect and I think of this Texas mother. I don't doubt that her instinct was intact. In fact, had her eight month old fallen off of the bed the day before, I am quite sure she would have rushed to her aid and even taken her to the doctor in case she seemed hurt. Knowing what she may have planned to do the next day in the back of her mind.
What makes us break? What makes us crack? Where is that turning point? And how can pure love exist in the midst of such madness? I believe that it does. I really do. It's something else that goes wrong and sweeps us away.
The women on that mommy board that are angry that she would do that to her children, I just don't feel like she must have felt like she was doing anything to them. Something tells me that in all of these cases of possible postpartum depression, the mothers must have believed on some level that they were releasing their children from some form of suffering. I'm talking about the mothers that do it deliberately, that clearly planned it out to some degree. Not the violent crimes of passion. Those women, well, I can't find any form of suitable justice.
No, I'm talking about the ones whose sanity slowly wicked away.
I'm not making excuses for this mother or any other. I want to do nothing but protect my children. In fact, if you can't protect your own, I'll take them on, as well. However, more attention needs to be drawn to postpartum depression and the general stress of motherhood and how it can slowly wear away at you, like water on a stone.
I just can't shake this sadness and it is forcing me to think about this in less black and white terms. Nothing so simple as anger. Nothing as white hot as rage.
I am in a sea of gray. Murky. Cool. Faces filtering in and out. Images I both do not want to see come into focus, but which I can't help but try to make out.