Wednesday, August 8, 2012

That Line.

When I opened our local news app on my phone, I winced as I saw yet another story of child abuse that resulted in a baby being hospitalized with all kinds of injuries. When I saw the picture of his Mom, my immediate feeling was anger. The injuries were horrific and it made my blood boil to think of anyone inflicting pain on a child--a baby, really. My mind can't understand it at all.

But when I glanced at her picture again, another feeling joined the angry one: Compassion. Don't get me wrong--child abuse in any shape or form is obviously never okay. But when I looked into her blank eyes, I couldn't help but wonder what brought her to that point. What kind of childhood did she have? Was she ever shown how to love? She was so young, too young, really. Out of what kind of relationship was that baby born?

As a Mom, I couldn't help but feel the conflicted desire to backhand her ... and to hug her, to comfort her.

Because having a baby can be tough. And even the best Moms out there will admit that there have been times when they've simply reached their limit. The baby won't stop crying, which usually happens in the middle of some other kind of stress--husband working late, dinner burning, other kids crying, or worse ... I mean, stress as a Mom can go from zero to ten pretty quickly. I know there have been times when I get that feeling, that tension, creeping up from within me. I know that means I need to put the baby in the crib and wait a few minutes until that feeling goes away. But what makes me choose that rather than to lash out at the screaming infant? I pondered those thoughts as I read that article. What if her stressors were more than just momentary--what if she lived amidst abuse? When we reach that point, what makes some of us back away from the line, while others of us cross it?

Faith is my saving grace. Being a Christian doesn't remove me from making mistakes, it changes my view of life and consequence. I know I was fearfully and wonderfully made, I know my Savior loves me, and therefore I know those things are true for my kids, too. I know God hears my prayers and He answers them. I know that when that baby is crying, I am not alone. It's an unshakable peace. It doesn't keep the stress from coming, but it helps me respond to it, rather than react. I can take a deep breath, whisper a prayer, and see the bigger picture. Had anyone shared the Truth with this girl? Most importantly, was faith modeled well in her life, or was it modeled poorly?

Also, my life is brimming with godly women who are really great Moms. I learn from them. I am constantly questioning them and picking their brains. I am always learning as a Mom how to try and be a better Mom. I am always engaged. Therefore my perspective is constantly fresh. And my support system is unwavering. I have four women, no, wait, five...six? I can call at any time who will jump to my aid, even if it's just listening to me sort things out. I wonder, did this girl have anyone to call? I know there are helplines and hotlines and I know she had options. But did she have a constant person, in her life, on whom she could lean?

All this to say, I had a good childhood. I have a good life. I have good friends. I have strong faith.

And I still feel at times that I reach "that point".

And I'm grateful that I was shown how to flee from it.

Because all it takes is one instance to snap, to make a move you can never take back. That young woman had a choice and she made the wrong one. She should pay the consequences and she will pay, for the rest of her life--she has altered the life of her child. But will she ever be taught how to do it differently? The right answer seems obvious to me, in my protected little world. If her world is chaotic, perhaps the answer is a little more blurry.

My heart breaks for that baby.

And, in its anger, it hurts for his Mama.


  1. Wonderfully written. The truth is abuse perpetuates abuse. It's not an excuse but it is a fact. I teach school and I see it going back generations. By the time I see these kids at nine or ten they have no clue how to love or be loved. They are angry and suspicious and the cycle is repeating itself. Many of the girls will be pregnant by 13 years old. I'm not against counseling, but truth be told we counsel these kids to death and the pattern continues. I'm convinced that Jesus is really the only effective way to stop the cycle because He's the only way we can be transformed. It's not about us bettering ourselves. It's about Him changing who we are.

  2. I will never forget the first time I thought, "So this is how people end up abusing their children." I was shocked at how quickly and intensely I could feel angry at my own child in those moments of stress, and almost instantly I realized that I was at "the line," and I was filled with compassion for those who cross it. Such hard realities of this broken world we live many people whose history of pain is leading them to inflict pain on others. Thankful for a God who can bring redemption to even the most hopeless of circumstances.

  3. So true, Katie.. We can all do the things we think we couldn't.. I was amazed at how angry I could feel toward my son.. and how irrational and spontaneous those moments are.. Your story about this woman is a good reminder to keep people in our lives.. and to keep reaching out to others.. you never know what someone is struggling with..

  4. I feel sorry for the mother and the baby. Not everyone has a support system. Not everyone has their family involved in their life, which is a big deal. It's tough. You just wish someone would have noticed she was stressed, or struggling and offered her a hand. Or just a shoulder to lean on. All it takes is one moment to change your whole life. I'm sure, unless she's crazy (which she may be now), she didn't intend to cause death. It's sad because you want to hate her...but I bet she already hates herself enough.

  5. hey katie! thanks for the sweet comment. i have so much respect for you staying at home with 3 little ones and don't know how you do it! hope you are having a great weekend!!