In this world of social media, news spreads like wildfire. For the last few days, my news feed has been filled with stories of Harambe, a 450 lb gorilla from the Cincinnati zoo. I do not need to share the story of what happened, I’m sure it’s been just as prevalent on your computer screen as it has mine.
What shocks me is not the story itself, while it is tragic and sad on every level, save for the fact that the boy is alive. What shocks me is the number of people that automatically jump to the conclusion that it was that little boy’s mother’s fault. That she is a terrible parent, that she is to blame for the gorilla’s death. I have seen posts that go so far as to say that he should be removed from her home and put in foster care. I have seen ‘joke’ pictures of gorilla glue and meme’s showing a gorilla that say ‘I was taking better care of that child than his mother’.
Are we so perfect, as a society, that we are so quick to judge the actions of another parent? I know that I am not. I am the mother of three, and I made more than my share of mistakes when they were growing up. Have we not all, as parents, made a mistake that potentially could have caused our child harm? After a ‘near miss’ have we not all scooped that child up and held them as tight as we could…perhaps as we whispered “I love you, Mommy is so sorry!”
When my youngest son was just a toddler, he fell into a fountain at the local mall. I was ‘that mom’ …. I turned my head for a second, probably to say something to his sister, and heard a splash. Like everyone else around me, I looked to see the source of the splash, , only to find it was my child, who had decided it was a great day for a swim. When he wasn’t much older, while visiting my brother in New Jersey, he ‘disappeared’ while playing outside with his siblings and cousins. My brother’s house had woods behind it, and I remember the panic and fear that gripped my heart as we all yelled his name. I thought for sure he had gone in those woods and we would not be able to find him. I had visions of police cars, sirens, and search parties….I was petrified. Where was he you ask? On the front porch, quietly playing with a toy. He never knew he was lost, and when I scooped him up and hugged him tight, and said ‘don’t ever do that again’, he just looked at me with his big innocent eyes. He didn’t know why we were scared, he didn’t know why his Mom had tears in her eyes, and he didn’t know why it wasn’t ok to be alone on the front porch. He wasn’t a ‘bad kid’ and I wasn’t a ‘bad mom’. It was simply one of those moments as a parent that you breathe a sigh of relief and thank God your child is ok.
When I read the stories of that little boy, his poor mother who must have been scared to death, and that gorilla, all I can think is ‘there but for the grace of God’ because it could have been me, it could have been you, it could have been any parent in any moment. Think before you judge and before you spread hate and viciousness about a mom you don’t know, ask yourself ‘am I so perfect as a parent that this could have never happened to me?’
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