A fine line between her and me…

by | May 30, 2007 | Parenting/Family | 5 comments

*Updated: Since writing this post I have learned a lot about postpartum depression and anxiety. I want to leave what I wrote so many years ago because I feel it’s important to recognize the thoughts and assumptions and struggles that were really, really real back then. And I want to link to this post from Postpartum Progress as a invaluable resource for mothers who are struggling and their loved ones. If you are struggling, there is help and support for you. You are not alone.

It’s a horrible story to read – A mother hangs her four daughters and herself. My heart aches. My heart breaks. My mind can’t comprehend… or can it?

There’s a fine line between her and me… 

Being a mother of young children is hard. Hard. Hard. The mother who did this had a 5 year old, 3 year old, 2 year old, and an 8 month old. No supportive partner, threat of abuse, and sounds like the financial burden of being sure these daughters were fed and had a roof. These are not excuses – heavens no. However, I think these reasons help one to consider the filter through which this young mother (only 25) was viewing life.

My word.

I have a 7, 5 and 2 year old. My youngest is two, and she has been really difficult to deal with lately. My 5 year old is just emerging from a near-total dependence on her dad and me. I have struggled with wanting to run away at times. I struggle with controlling my words… controlling my actions.

I have a committed husband who desires to be with our kids, and misses them when he’s away at work. He likes them! I have good friends who would drop a hot casserole on the floor if I called with a dire need. I am not responsible for whether I can afford to feed my children.

If I have such great blessing, why have I struggled at times? Why have I gone through the dark valleys that this season of motherhood brings?

I don’t know why. I do know I have.

What happened with this mother is unimaginable to me. It’s horrendous. It’s utterly awful. It’s the worst thing possible. The absolute worst. I don’t think there is a word for something like this.

As hard this is to admit, I think there is only a fine line between her and me. One mother said in the article,

“I’m a mother, so I can’t understand what passed through her mind in this moment…”

But can you remember even a tiny bit of utter desperation and helplessness? I’ve had this conversation with friends… and we have said, “There is a fine line. But what is that little thing that keeps us from crossing over?”

My husband added, our faith.

A chemical difference? That mom hadn’t even cleared one year after her latest pregnancy. Was she sleeping through the night? Sleep deprivation never helps one make rational decisions.

Mothers need to have an honest discussion… with each other. With yourself. Many try to paint this season of mothering as this glowing period of perfection, patience and sweetness. It’s not. It just isn’t. If you insist it is, then you are lying, or someone else is their mother.

I am sad for the children… for what they went through. I am sad for the 8 month old who survived and has this as part of her legacy. I am sad for the family and friends who are blaming themselves. I am sad for this mother who went “there”… who crossed that line. Lord, what terrible things must she have convinced herself for this to happen? Why must a woman in our country, in this period of “progressive politics”, bring herself and her children to this end?

Some may be convinced this woman was evil. I can’t say for sure – it’s impossible not to consider it. I have an intense hatred for people who harm children. I am a mom too. I am aware of the pressure and demands these kids bring to our lives. I have a feeling, this woman was in a place of such darkness and despair – she may have passed a point of being able to rationally consider what she was doing to her children. Could she have actually truly thought they’d be better off? She very well might have.

Mothers, this is why it’s important to be honest. To consider all possibilities. To not consider oneself immune to sinking to the bottom of the valley. It’s important to share your deepest struggles… it’s important to have a safe place to share those with. If you share, you’ll find you are not alone, or better yet – help another realize SHE is not alone. Early in my journey, I plugged into a MOPS group… a group specifically created for mothers of preschoolers. I am fortunate I had one available… and 7 years later, I am still going. Each year I hear mother after mother:

I am so tired. Yours does that too?! You mean, that’s normal? I don’t know what to do! I only slept 3 hours last night. We’ve been sick for 2 weeks straight. I am so tired. She cries all the time. He’s biting other kids. She won’t eat anything but yogurt. My husband doesn’t understand how hard it is. I need help. I don’t have any family around. I just want to be able to go to the bathroom by myself. It is so tight every month. He’s living with “her”. It’s so hard doing this without my husband. He’ll be back in 6 months…

I’m pretty sure these conversations aren’t limited to the groups I’ve been a part of. Motherhood crosses all boundaries.

I am so deeply sad… on so many levels. My prayer is global. Heavenly Father, I ask for all moms to be protected from loneliness, fear, helplessness, anger, rage, powerlesness. My prayer is first for these moms, because they are the creators and gatekeepers of what enters (or what does not enter) the lives of their children. Bless these women with strength, encouragement, support, compassion, grace, love, understanding… a simple a break – they most assuredly will be equipped to ooz those wonderful things onto and into their most precious blessings, their children.

Hi, I'm Jenny :)

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