I have been tossing around the idea of adding my three cents (yes, I have more than the two) to the voices already raised in outrage with regard to the Baltimore fiasco. I have vacillated with it because well, a lot has already been said; I won’t be adding anything new. So suffice it to say that I too am glad that some will be held accountable to answer for this death and I am deeply saddened by these courses of events.
What I do want to address however, is that “Baltimore Mom’; and not because of her actions, but more specifically the reactions to her actions. There are those that applaud and celebrate her and, because we live in a nation dedicated to controversy, there are those that condemn her. Not sure what side you all fall on; but, let’s address this.
By now everyone must have seen either on their social media feeds, the news or the newspapers, images of this mother determined to stop her son from going to and joining a situation that (she felt) could potentially have had him locked up, hurt or dead. We all saw (and heard) as she unleashed the Mama Bear in her. For some, her actions were comical; the stuff of much laughter and ridicule. For others (like me), they were the actions of desperation and fear that on one level should have remained private (but then again… is anything private anymore?), but that should also absolutely be utilized as a learnable moment now that it has been made public. For others, this mother’s actions are being hailed as the unveiling of her prior shortcomings – because well, “if she had been a good mother all along, she would not have had to be trying to corral her son from his intent!” Really? Show me the parent that, despite their best intentions and efforts has children that grow up remembering and implementing all that they have been shown and taught and who do not exercise their own thought-process and individuality (as they should!). Show me that child and I will be happy to show you a drone!
Okay, what say you? Do her actions say “good mother” now or “bad mother” then? In your opinion did she go overboard? Were they all genuine or was there some level of “playing to the camera” as some suggest? I admit to being quite vocal with my opinion that parenting begins at home and that the type of parent you are is reflected in your children’s behaviors; I stand by that. I also stand behind this statement – the time to make your most lasting impressions on your child’s life is from birth to about six. Yup. Now, don’t be silly – I am not saying that your influence stops after that age (I would like to believe I still influence my daughter and she is old as hell! Ha-ha). What I am saying however is that the discipline, boundaries and structure you implement in those years will be the foundation that you both build on from them on. That foundation, whether solid or weak, will be what is used to pile their opinions, decisions and judgments on. But the reality is this – it will be their opinions, decisions and judgments.
Listen, take it from a mother, this parenting business is no joke and, it is quite frankly hit or miss. Sometimes, despite the best of intentions or actions, our children end up less than. And sometimes, when we are not looking, they grow into some remarkable human beings… in spite of us J What I have realized though, is that too often as parents, we over-elevate our importance in our children’s development; we satisfy our egos and attempt to couch it as their need. Many of us have difficulty in finding the balance between too much empowerment, sense of individuality and entitlement and too little. It seems we either raise children for our world or leave them to the world. Some are too involved and others not involved enough. Sometimes, we either raise narcissists or delinquents.
But this is not a parenting lesson; Lord knows I am not qualified to give one! What this is however, is the acknowledgement that that mother’s behavior is very reflective of what mine could be. Some read violence of a sort in her actions; I see fear and desperation. I see a desire to protect. I will never look at actions in a situation such as that (whether the threat were imminent or perceived) and judge it for its depiction of prior-parenting. For me, the images of that mother achieved maximum poignancy as simply that – the images of a mother. Because until this world changes, until we are successful in stamping out racism, prejudice, discrimination and hatred of any kind, no gay child, no transgender child, no obese child, no nappy-headed child, no child of gay parents, no Muslim child, no single-parent child, no un-cool child… no black child is always safe walking out their front door.
As a mother, I know I could kill for my child. As a mother, I know I would use whatever force – verbal or physical – that was necessary to either stop my child from being hurt or from hurting someone else.