My news feed has been bombarded with angry mom-shamers relentlessly unloading on the parents of the little boy who fell into the Gorilla exhibit.
401,215 people signed a petition against this family last I checked.
Over four hundred thousand people are able to express empathy for Harambe but not for a fellow parent who took her eyes off her toddler for a brief moment in time.
That's a lot of perfect parents out there.
Yes, I admit that there are neglectful and harmful parents in this world and we have an obligation to protect those that need protecting, however the outrage and violent verbal assaults to this family without adequate information is so disturbing to me. Here's how I feel:
•I am saddened by the death of such a beautiful and endangered animal.
•I am grateful that the boy is safe and home with his family.
•I am feeling empathy and compassion for that family who clearly suffered a terrible ordeal only to be vilified in social media.
What happened to empathy and compassion for fellow human beings?
Parenting is never perfect and most of us are trying our best and sometimes mistakes are made. Mom-shaming does not solve problems; it only alienates and divides us when we need support the most.
How many people reading this can say they have never lost sight of their toddler for even a second?
I know I can’t.
Frankly that story is so frightening because I believe it could have happened to me or to almost any mom I know. I remember being with a dear friend, who is a wonderful mom when her two year old got lost at a crowded zoo. My friend and I were there with 5 children in total and the toddler just disappeared. We were franticly searching for what seemed like an eternity (maybe 15 minutes) when with the help of kind strangers my 10-year-old daughter found the baby and brought her back to safety.
No, I never had a child fall into a zoo exhibit however I have…
•Locked my self in the bathroom in a panic while my husband sat with my 18month old baby crying covered in head to toe hives from a food allergy reaction while on vacation with no Benadryl or emergency medication.
•Turned my back for a second to have my toddler fall head first off of a kitchen stool onto the tile floor.
•Allowed my 4 year old to push her infant brother in an umbrella stroller on the sidewalk without being properly buckled and as she lifted the back of the stroller to go over a bump he fell on his forehead onto the sidewalk.
•Lost track of my 2-year-old girl in a Target superstore for several minutes.
•Missed the fact that my daughter had a fever (more than once) and dropped her off at school only to get a call from the school nurse that she had a high fever and wound up positive for strep.
•Woke up one morning to find my toddler had been trying to open a jar of fruit snacks with a kitchen knife while the rest of the family was sound asleep.
•Forgot to pick up my 9 year old from school while I was in the middle of new client psychiatric intake evaluation that had gone over time and realized when the school called me 20 minutes after dismissal with my little boy worried something happened to his mommy.
These are just the examples that easily came to mind. Like many of us, we all have moments we regret despite our best intentions.
I believe I am a good parent. I am trying my best each and every day. Just like most moms and dads out there, including the parents of the little boy who fell into the Gorilla exhibit, as well as the thousands of people who signed that petition.
Let’s try and remember that we are all human and none of us are perfect and next time you find yourself ready to vilify another human being, take a minute to stop and put yourself in their shoes before you take to your keyboard.
Cara Maksimow, LCSW, CPC
Therapist, Coach and Author of “Lose That Mommy Guilt, Tales and Tips from an Imperfect Mom”
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