A Mother’s Perspective
So many people say a child is precious and a true blessing from God. I didn’t know what feelings one had to possess to believe that until the day she was born...SCRATCH THAT...about three-months after she was born. I wouldn't say that I was suffering from post-partum depression, instead just dealing with the overwhelming feeling of just having brought another being into the world.
Worried about the rash on her little butt, her eyes sporadically misaligning, if she got enough food when nursing her, the noises she made while sleeping, fearing she would stop breathing, and worried that I wouldn’t be a good mother. All these worries and more, on top of sleep deprivation, were extremely difficult to manage not only physically, but also mentally and emotionally. There were nights early on that I cried, simply because she was crying and I didn’t know why.
One night my husband light heartedly said, “I bet you wish there was a Unicorn to take her away right now, don’t you?” Right away I said, “Yes, to take her far, far away and never to come back.” I wanted all my worries to vanish.
On top of all my worries, were the frustrating moments that I just wanted to scream. I said to myself, “She’s fed and her diaper is clean. What is she crying for?” I was already worried that I wouldn’t be a good mother and now that I can’t get her to stop crying I am obviously not. It took some work to stay sane and give myself a reality check that she’s just an infant and this is all new to her and to be patient.
One afternoon, when she was about 2-months-old, I took her upstairs for a diaper change. She was crying and crying and crying. I removed the dirty diaper and set the clean one in place, and then she pooped. So I took that one out and put another clean one in place. As I was putting the diaper rash cream on she pooped again. I was starting to get warm. The frustration was building up. I wiped the cream off and put a clean diaper in place and she pooped again. I was so angry I wanted to grab her, shake her, and yell at her for doing that! Couldn’t she see that I was cleaning her! Right away I ran out of the room and yelled to my husband for help. He came running right away, and finished the diaper change.
I’d like to think that I am a pretty rational and sane person, so I cringe to think what parents without the capacity to control themselves or without family support do to their children when they get frustrated. I believe the majority of parents do not plan to abuse or neglect their children. All parents want their children to thrive. But when a parent is learning how to support another being and experiences extreme stress—the stress of work, of bills, of poverty, of hunger, of an inability to provide their family with life's most basic necessities—often one more crisis can bring that parent to a critical boiling point, and bring harm upon a child.
I want people to know that these feelings have no barriers. They affect parents from all ethnic backgrounds, the rich, the poor, the least educated, the highly educated, the unreligious, the deeply religious, the parents without a roof over their head, and the parents with all the luxuries and toys money can afford.
The fact is abuse and neglect are 100% preventable, and no child ever needs to suffer. I encourage parents that ever feel overwhelmed to the point were they want to yell at or shake their baby to put the baby in a safe place, walk away, and get help. Call a friend, family member, go to a neighbor, or call 1-800-4-A-CHILD. The feelings of frustration with a child are normal. They will pass, but the physical and emotional damage to your child won’t.