The blogosphere is filled with stories about mothers judging other mothers. So many articles fuel the ‘mommy wars’ in some way, even inadvertently. We all say don’t judge, support each other and lift each other up. We are all doing the best we can with what we have. We need to help out and be a village. Try to remember that a quick glimpse of someone’s day only yields small bits of information – the mother who is reading a text at the park while her kids play might be the mother who just found out her husband is cheating and just needed to get help from a friend. I don’t know the situation so I can’t judge.
But sometimes, I do judge. I confess. There are situations where I can’t talk myself out of criticizing someone else, no matter how rational I am or how hard I try.
“Could you take in a newborn infant, and then, in a few weeks, let her go?”
This question was the lead in to the blog post “Wanted: Temporary Foster Homes for Newborns” in the New York Times.
The post talked about interim care for newborns and the need for volunteers. Interim care, for those who don’t know, is for babies that have been exposed to drugs prenatally. The infants suffer serious effects from withdrawal to drugs like heroin, cocaine, and meth, to name a few. Those who volunteer to do interim care learn how to touch and comfort babies that go through withdrawal and recover, while the birth parents (who still have full legal rights) consider their next steps (adoption, for example).
It sounds lovely, doesn’t it, to help the smallest and most vulnerable in society get what they need to thrive? To make a difference that can be so big?
I knew I could never, ever do it. Not because I wouldn’t love to help these babies. But because, despite knowing how addictive drugs are, how they can take over and rule someone’s life, how life can drag people down to the point that they don’t know how to change or help themselves even when they want to desperately, I would want to beat the crap out of these mothers. Watching newborns deal with withdrawal when they should be at home, cuddled and comforted and fed and held and loved?
Well, I couldn’t do it.
It makes me judgmental and that makes me weak. But I know myself and I couldn’t stand by over and over again and watch babies finally become healthy only to have them returned to birth parents that didn’t take care of them. Birth mothers that cared more about their fix than they cared about their babies, birth mothers who were selfish and didn’t give their children a better life than a drug addicted mother who wasn’t strong enough to stay away from drugs in order to be strong for their baby. I’d have to watch mothers come to visit their children and seethe with rage that they did this to their own babies. I’d have to bite my tongue all the time to keep sarcastic, hurtful, judgmental comments from being slung in their direction.
I don’t want to be that person. It’s not empathetic. It’s not compassionate. It doesn’t help anyone, not the babies, not the mothers, not society, not even me, to judge instead of offering support and sympathy. It solves nothing about our drug problem or our lack of support for addicts and mothers and parents. And yet, I still judge. I still couldn’t do it. I would want to take every single one of those babies home with me.
To the volunteers who provide interim care, I salute you and your compassion, empathy, and acceptance of others, helping and changing the world one small cuddle at a time. You are an inspiration and I will strive to do better, thanks to your example.