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   Saturday, September 04, 2004  

Things that sadden me

I woke up early this morning, had a decent morning. Went to an art/craft fair (uber-expensive art and handcrafted items). Things are good. And when we got home, my lovely husband wanted a nap. So, I bring my laptop into the bedroom so that I can be near him while he sleeps. I caught up on a few blogs and a few bulletin boards. And then I read the newspaper's website and became deeply disturbed.

A 23-year old woman left her children at home with her boyfriend while she drove a friend home. Before she got home, her little girl woke up. For the last time. The girl was crying, and when picking her up, giving her a glass of water and putting her back in her crib didn't comfort her and end the crying, the boyfriend punched her in the stomach. And that shut her up. Permanently. That one punch lacerated the little girl's liver. Her mother didn't check on her when she got home, just went to bed herself. When the mother woke up yesterday morning, she found her daughter dead in the crib.

I'm usually extremely upset over these types of things thinking about all of the people who would give anything to have children when others can throw away their children. Now I realize this was not done by a parent of the child, however I think that there are indicators that certain people should not be allowed to care for children and it is the parents' responsibility to ensure that they not leave their children with those people.

Today as I read it though, I don't mourn for those of us who would never do that to a child. I mourn for this child. For the many things that she will never do. I mourn for the mother who must live with the guilt, knowing she left her daughter in an unsafe situation. I think to, of another local mother this summer.

A single mother, living on the 9th floor of a high-rise low-income building by the river. She had 6 year old twins and a 3 year old son. She worked nights so that she could be the one with her children during the day. By all accounts, a good mother. Her children woke up earlier than usual and she just could not keep her eyes open. It was a hot day and the building has no air conditioning so she had opened her window. One of her 6-year olds woke her and pointed to the empty couch below the window. She ran to the window only to see her toddler lying on the ground below. He had been jumping on the couch when he tripped. He fought for his life for nearly a week before the injuries proved too much.

That was compared to the death of a child two years ago in another low-income high-rise on the other side of town. The same type of accident. Only after the publishing of this year's accident, the mother from two years ago felt guilty. She went to the police and confessed that she has severe psychological problems and had thrown her child from the window.

Stories like these devastate me. Not because I have been unsuccessful in carrying my own children. Rather, they devastate me on a social level. Surely somewhere out there, there is help for these women. Someone that they can trust to look after their children while they work or run errands. Surely there exists some mental health worker who will say, "I know you love your baby, but until you are well, you just can't have her." Or maybe there should be some sort of group home or hospital for these women to live in where both their mental well-being and the welfare of their children can be assured.

It is also stories like these that led me into education in the first place. Because if we can educate the children, when they grow up, they will know better. If we can expose them to a world that offers more than what they are used to, they will aspire to more. And hopefully the next generation will begin in a better place than they did.

This is also why I am still trying to talk my husband into becoming a foster parent. In addition to raising my own children, I want to give something back. I want to be a part of showing these kids what the world could (no, SHOULD) be like. My only fear is the heartbreak of giving them back to their mothers. And what if their mothers really aren't better when the kids go home?

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