This morning I fed my baby his bottle like I always do while watching the morning news. Like most mornings, the local news is so, so depressing. South Carolina is top-ranked for beauty but sadly, not brains. We’ve got some big, fat idiots in this state that do really bad things. And today, like most days, I had to see yet another case of someone killing their baby. Today’s was due to shaking a three-month-old boy. The mother left the baby with his father (her boyfriend maybe?) who was unemployed and had a temper problem. She said she never thought he’d hurt the baby though.
I couldn’t help but be affected by this as I was feeding my own son just a few months older. Here I am, horrified when he fell out of his swing just a couple of inches from the ground the other day, and yet I watch everyday how babies are murdered within miles from me.
I get that it’s hard to be a new parent. It really is. The manuals and commercials show bouncing babies smiling and laughing and forget to show the mom who hasn’t showered in days covered in spit up. They don’t show the texts between mom friends discussing which poop colors are the ones to look out for, and what to do in those moments when the baby isn’t gaining weight. They don’t show the doubt and fear and anxiety that riddles all new parents. But most of those parents don’t hurt their babies.
Today I went to Babies R Us and was buying my youngest a few things when I saw a young couple with a newborn. I smiled and asked how old their baby was. He was 3 weeks. The mother looked a bit disheveled and the father was feeding the baby while she shopped. I replied that I had a baby that was almost seven months old and she asked, “does it get easier?” I could tell this young mother was at that three-week breaking point where your sanity bounces between happy and crazy every five minutes. “Yes,” I said. “it does.” “It’s gonna get really good in just a few months.” I thought to my own little Cameron and all the smiles and rolling and laughing and sitting up. His chubby legs and arms and folds of fat that I wipe each night. The mom went on to tell me that she didn’t know it would be so hard. Sometimes she only showers twice a week and the baby wakes up every two and a half hours at night to eat. I told her to remember our conversation six months from now because soon, her baby will look like the one in commercials. He’ll smile back at her and coo and giggle the best sound she’ll ever hear.
She then told me that amid all the hard times she was so in love. She said her mother offered to come watch the baby so they could have a night out, but then the father interjected with, “we can’t leave the baby. There’s no way. I’ll have separation anxiety just to be without him.” It was one of the sweetest things I’ve ever heard from a stranger. I thought back to this morning with that father shaking his baby to death. And here I was thankfully reminded that we do have a good parents in this town. The woman said that her mom coming over did allow her to take a shower but she wasn’t ready to leave the baby for a date night just yet. She was too worried about things. I told her “your baby is fed, clothed and loved. You are doing awesome.” It felt good in that moment, mother to mother, to let her know she’s doing a great job. Because I’ve been there and wondered myself if I’m doing everything right. We might not all have the same car seats or fancy clothes or strollers or latest and greatest this or that, but we can all provide love to our kids. They don’t ask for much in return really. I just wish someone would wake up all these people out there that can’t figure out how basic kids’ needs are and just give them the love and attention they desire.
I really hope tomorrow I can wake up and watch something better on the news or else I’m just going to give up on the REAL reality TV and turn it off altogether. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. Staring at this cute face is way more fun anyway!