lundi, octobre 11, 2010

Meet the "bad" mothers

I admit that I don't always get to the front section of the Philadelphia Inquirer, our local media outlet of record, on Sundays. I've got a few other things going on, and by the time, I get home from church, my brain is often fried.

But yesterday I had time for a heating pad break to loosen up my wounded back before going out to rake the leaves (no, this doesn't make sense, but hang in there).

When I had finished reading this article, I felt sickened -- and deeply disturbed.

You see, I'm a fretting mom. I fret because I can't get my daughter to do her homework. I worry because my son seems overly responsible for his age. And heck, the kid doesn't practice his trumpet.

They turn up their noses sometimes at the vegetable-whole wheat pasta concotions I put on the table.

And often, I find myself tossing old vegetables or stiff cheese slices into the trash -- when I don't walk them guiltily out to the compost heap.

But I don't worry about what I can feed my kids.

I don't go without food for a day so my children can have hamburger and a bun (no sides) at night.

I don't wonder if my child will be brain-damaged because he or she doesn't get enough basic nutrients.

I don't consider suicide because, damn it, I can't feed the baby -- and I wonder what kind of mother would let her baby starve?

Most of us don't see this kind of poverty. Most of us would prefer to pretend it doesn't exist.

But it does -- often closer to us than we know.

Tax breaks won't feed poor children. The safety net, shredded already, is failing them. Lots of us are close enough to the poverty line not to have anything to spare for those whose need is just a bit more frightening.

And so I wonder -- for those of us who have so much, what makes a "good mother"?

Perhaps it is a mother or a father who cares about someone else's children, too -- and does something to reach out across the divide and say -- I want to help.

I don't know, for sure. But what I do believe is that it feels intolerable, at the moment, for me to sit idle while a mother thinks she might kill herself because she doesn't have food for her children.

And I'm going to try not to wait until the emotion passes before I do something.

2 commentaires:

dadshouse a dit…

Having enough to eat is a societal issue, not just a parenting thing. I hope that woman can find help from her community. As for being a good parent - love your kids. If that means asking the community for help, so be it.

BigLittleWolf a dit…

I'm sorry I'm so late to this post. (My own machinery churning to take care of my kids...)

Reading this - your commentary and then the referenced article - is both appalling and (sorrowfully) not surprising. The reporter had the good sense to humanize the issue by focusing on one woman - one mother - sacrificing her own food to feed her two children. It's horrifying that this takes place in our country, and it does.

This in particular struck me:
Some people believe poverty is the fault of the poor, authors of their own bad luck. Others blame a colossal failure of systems and institutions that victimizes the impoverished, block by block, year after year.

The failure is both institutional and individual - our own fear of poverty that has us saying "it couldn't happen to me, they did it to themselves," etc. etc. Ridiculous.

So how do we do something - one person at a time? A buddy system? A way to somehow encourage the "haves" to assist the "have nots" - give up one $3 coffee/week at Starbucks, or the soda for $1.25 in the vending machine 3 days a week. Something. Not BS and well wishing. Something tangible. Person to person.

Strange to read this tonight, after seeing something in the NYTimes about buying food on credit vs cash (and the implication the statement that people make "worse choices" when they don't use cash) - no indication of the financial stress that may lurk below. I was so struck by it, I had to take issue with it.

Your post drives this home - the ignorance (by choice?) of those who will not see what they have, and worse, the depths of despair in those who are their neighbors.

What is happening with this woman, with these neighborhoods, following this article?