A Mother’s Thoughts on the Gorilla Accident
The story of the little boy who got into the gorilla exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo has received widespread press in the last several days. I have read numerous accounts, have seen raw footage, have found blogs on the unfortunate death of the massive creature, and most surprisingly to me, have read comments of people criticizing the mother. Appalling!
I cannot fathom in my mind, how we have stooped so low as a society that we put blame on a mother for this horrible accident. How can any mother point the blame at another mother for this? How can someone's first response to this horrific accident be blame on the mother rather than pity or thankfulness?
Personally, my first response when my husband came into my bathroom that morning to show me the footage was "Thank God that sweet child is ok!" Because that is exactly what that little boy was --- a child, a curious child. A little boy, who if he is anything like my four little boys, hardly ever stays in one place very long!
I watched that video in horror. With a lump in my throat and a knot in my stomach, I envisioned my own four-year old on that video with that ginormous animal thrashing him around, with those big gorilla eyes staring into my sweet little boy's scared face. I couldn't shake the awful thought.
So after thanking God that little boy was ok, I quietly thanked God that it wasn't me or one of my children that was involved in that accident --- that I didn't have to live through that.
Next, I commented to my husband how calm that mother was on the video. I said I would have been screaming like a maniac. Crying. Yelling. I would have been a mess. He told me that it was probably her calmness that saved that little boy's life. And from what I read, he is likely right. It seems that noise and unfamiliar sounds agitate silverbacks. And a raging maniac mom like myself would have caused detriment to that little boy. Well, thank God that boy had a mom like her and not like me! Because if my screaming and crying would have gotten my son killed, then I would certainly be left with one less son. Maybe instead of blaming that mother for her curious little boy getting away from her for a split second, we should be commending her on how she conducted herself and handled the intense situation.
I have read Facebook comments that start out "I have 5 kids and I would never have let that happen to my child." Really? I have five kids too. And I assure you I wouldn't LET that happen to my kid either. I guess we assume here that by LETTING that little boy in the exhibit, the mother endorsed his behavior. Much like we LET our child go play at their friend's house. "Sure. Ok. Go ahead over to Johnny's house. Yeah. Go play in the gorilla exhibit!" (Sense the sarcasm here?)
How about the articles that state "the mother had two other children with her at the zoo." Is this suggesting that us mothers with multiple kids can't watch our kids as well as those with fewer kids? That we are just statistically less vigilant because we are outnumbered? Imagine the headline if this mom had LET her ONLY CHILD get into that exhibit. Then what would we blame it on? Her taking a photo to document their memory together? Her tying her shoe? Her blinking? My point being that no matter how many or how few children you have, things, unfortunately bad things, can happen within a split second that can change our lives forever.
Because I realize that, I thank God that wasn't one of my children! Maybe those of you who find this mother to be "negligent" or "unfit" have simply gotten to this point in your life with luck on your side. You've never looked into the pool to find your child's head and when you can't see them, suddenly feel like you can't breathe until you see them coming up from under the water and realize they were just swimming in the pool. Perhaps you have never walked out of the bathroom and your 9 month old who had been sitting there playing was gone. He had suddenly crawled away and you frantically search the house to find him just sitting in another area quietly playing with his toys. You must not be the mom who has kids who like to play in the clothes racks at department stores. You certainly don't have a kid who has ever gotten distracted looking at something more interesting to him as you slowly walked away in a public place and leave him a ways behind. You've never experienced the horror of imagining the worst for your child in a situation. LUCKY YOU!!!
How especially lucky you must be to have never had any accidents happen to you or your child-an ACCIDENT. By its very definition, an accident is 1- an unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally...2- an event that happens by chance without apparent or deliberate cause. So how can this mother be to blame for an UNEXPECTED (so she couldn't plan for it), UNINTENTIONAL (so she didn't mean for it to happen) CHANCE (happens because of luck) happening?
Let's face it moms, we beat ourselves up enough. We guilt ourselves over everything daily. Isn't that enough torture? Isn't it enough that we lose sleep wondering whether we did all we could, whether we were the best mom we could be? Isn't it enough that we pray for the safety and longevity of life for our kids, that we would sacrifice anything for their health and happiness including our own lives? Shouldn't we be building other mothers up, supporting them, empathizing with them, instead of tearing them down, blaming them?
Accidents can happen to anyone at any time. I don't know this mother personally, but I am pretty confident that most mothers that haven't had the misfortune to have experienced such unspeakable and unfathomable pain and worry, are just lucky. It's a product of their better luck, rather than their better parenting. So while those lucky moms are blaming this poor, unlucky mom, I'm counting my LUCKY STARS and praying that my luck doesn't change for the worse some day!