Since the arrival of baby, my engagement in national and world news has become minimal. Even hours spent in the glow of my iPad while rocking the baby back to sleep in the middle of the night have been spent on trashier subjects and websites (Jezebel, Buzzfeed) and browsing items I cannot afford to buy. Admittedly, most of my news comes from my following Chicago’s ABC 7 and the Kansas City Star on Facebook or (what I find to be suuuuuuper funny) conservative talk radio.
But recently, I feel less and less guilty about this.
I don’t know if my newsfeed snippets focus on the sensationally horrific stories or if the incidence of violence against children has risen dramatically. Or maybe it’s because I now have a child that I pay closer attention. Whatever it is, my stomach twists in an increasingly familiar way, my heart jumps to my throat and I fight back the urge to cry and/or throw up.
Today, I read a quick blurb about a preschooler that was hung by his feet and beaten to death. Why? How?
Have we become a more violent people? When did this happen? Why has this happened?
I’d like to think that I am educated enough to understand some of the issues regarding child abuse. I understand how things like poverty and education impact parenting. I have strong opinions regarding postpartum depression and psychosis and become furious with less than competent health care providers that perhaps could have relieved or prevented this pain. The Social Worker part of me can try to break it down, pinpoint the steps and mis-steps but lately, the mom part of me weighs much more heavily when considering situations like this.
As the mother of a daughter, my heart already breaks. I didn’t want a girl. Despite the fact that it’s 2014 and “go Hilary” and Lily Ledbetter and all that jazz there is still an inherent societal misogyny that is pulsing; sometimes so intensely that I become paranoid about my safety and the protection of my rights. Statistics suggest that one in five women will be sexually assaulted. I carry the complex emotions of my own sexual trauma. I know, as a woman, how it feels to be objectified, to be made to feel less than or only worth what my body has been valued at.
Stories like this, or the one yesterday about the mother who threw her child off of a bridge cannot be processed by my mind. I am terrified of all of the things that the world can inflict upon my sweet, innocent, loving girl – I could not imagine bringing those things to her by my own hand.