All Life Is Precious  

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Okay, this is something I feel I need to write, it is my opinion alone, how I feel about the related topics and what I read. It is not meant to offend anyone, I’m sure some people are going to criticize…but it is how I feel.

I know I’ve spoken about parents/carers, and the lack of respect and acknowledgement we receive, and I want to respond to one anonymous comment that came through to me a few weeks ago via e-mail. One mum expressed her feelings about wishing her child would pass peacefully away in his sleep, feeling that it would be better for him. She feels that she has been pushed to breaking point. She even quoted a news story from last April…which actually made my blood boil at the time.

Clare Bates (left) was in the news in April talking about how hard it was to be a carer, how pitifully we are paid and how little respect we get. Then she spoke about her own life and how there was a time when she begged her father to kill her son because it was too hard, and she felt she or he had no quality of life. I was shocked that the thought even entered her head. And what shocked me more was the amount of carers and parents who congratulated her, agreed with her and said there were many days they felt the same, many said they had days when they wished their child wouldn’t wake up in the morning.

Well this goes against every fibre of my being, my maternal instinct makes me fiercely protective of all my kids and I would never wish harm to any of my children, and who is she to say her so has no quality of life, I saw the report, he was smiling, he was happy and he was responsive to those around him.

I know what its like to be pushed to the limit by the government, the system as it were, I know what it’s like to have to spend years surviving on just 2 hours sleep a night, and to spend the days getting beaten up by my own toddler/child, have broken bones and TV’s thrown at me…but there was never a moment in all of it when I would have been without Aaron.

Imagine the guilt I would feel now, if I had felt like that, I have no guilt, no regrets, I made sure Aaron knew how loved and valued he is every minute of every day.

If that was a mum talking about an able bodied child or a child who had, for instance a few behavioural or learning difficulties, then there would have been uproar, the child would be in care, and the woman would have been condemned, not congratulated. But as her son is disabled…oh well, its not quite as important, and THIS is exactly why we have the problems we do in society, disabled people are treated as ‘lesser beings’ because of their disabilities.

Of course she hid behind the ‘you can’t imagine my life if you haven’t lived it’ line…but I have lived it, I would give everything I own to still be living it.

There was another news story recently of a mum who drowned her disabled daughter in the bath, and pleaded depression as a defence… A few years ago there was the father, who murdered his disabled son, the mum who hid her disabled son’s body in a suitcase in a shed…and recently another mother and her disabled child were found dead in a lake behind their home, the mum was known to be depressed due to caring for her child.

Now when I started this blog, I promised I’d be honest, so…when I saw that report I wanted to throw something through the TV. As much as I understand being tired, sick of fighting and whatever else it entails, I’m pretty sure that before I got to the point where I would harm my child, I would do something…anything to get some help.

There was another news story quite recently about baby P (right) and his death didn’t provoke any sympathy for the parents (as it should not), and although the cases were very different, what is it in the eyes of society made it different, was it that baby P was not a disabled child.

When a child with a disability is harmed, there are not pictures of the child all over the news and media, is it because society does not percieve the child to be as cute, as lovable??? Perhaps if children with disabilities were seen to be more essential members of society, given the respect they deserve, the support would be there for them and their families.

We are given our children as the most precious gift, regardless of their abilities, who are we to say who is and isn’t perfect. It’s the attitude that makes the disability, not the physical limitations…some of the most disabled people I know are actually able bodied.

So yes, these parents, any parent who harms a child should be punished severely, but so should the parents who hurt their disabled children.

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19 comments: to “ All Life Is Precious

  • Carebear
    24 March 2009 at 07:34  

    I can understand your outrage Sally, and I feel so deeply for your loss of Aaron. I can imagine how it cuts you to hear a parent will the end to their child's life when you'd give most anything for just one more day with your child. Heartbreaking. On the other hand, I have to confess that I suffered from severe postpartum depression after my first child was born, and there were some very bleak days when I had dark thoughts. Thoughts that immediately riddled me with shame and guilt, but that I could not seem to help having. I think in some cases - and probably not the ones you've blogged about here - but there are some mommies that feel terribly overwhelmed by the hormones and hardships of parenting to the point they might have thoughts they don't want to have but can't prevent. Luckily, with medication and time, I found my way into the light again, and fortunately the darkness did not return after my second child was born last year. I do have empathy though for moms - whether their children be fully healthy or disabled - that struggle with the darkness of depression. Thank you for your candid post, and I hope that sharing my story hasn't offended you. I don't mean to discount or diminish your anger, just needed to talk about what is often a taboo subject for mommies! BTW, thanks for your comment on my Dora Rant last week! Come by this week and enter my awesome “Support Our Troops Giveaway”!

  • Sally's World
    24 March 2009 at 08:22  

    Hi Carebear, thank you so much for your comments today, of course, I was not offended in the slightest, I am always interested to hear the other side of things, it is hard to understand otherwise, and I guess this is a subject I am very close to. I am glad that you managed to come through your depression, and I think that is what is hard for me to understand, why not go for help like you did...maybe it is because it is more tabboo to ask for help when one simply can't cope in the face of disability. post partum depression, hormones, are all explained, depression because you can't cope with your child because they are disabled seems harder to admit to. maybe I'm happens occasionally lol!!!
    please please don't be offended when I ask this...but what was it that made the dark thoughts stay thoughts, and made you not act on them...was it support? is that what makes the difference?

    thank you for the insight, so glad you wrote...thrilled you don't have to go through it all again with your second child. XOXOXO

  • Carebear
    24 March 2009 at 09:02  

    Sally, I sent you an email because I don't want to take up all your comment space, LOL! I don't have a short answer as to why my thoughts stayed thoughts. I'd like to think it's because I never would've hurt my kiddo, but maybe it's actually because I got help within 2 days of having those first bad thoughts? I recognized that those feelings weren't normal, and they scared me, so I wanted to get rid of them! And it worked, thanks be to God! I appreciate your supportive comments and look forward to the other feedback you get too!

  • Anonymous
    24 March 2009 at 09:58  

    My dearest Sal,

    I read your blog and FULLY empathize with you ,we definitely have double standards etc in this day and age don't we? We both love our children to bits and see a child for a child ,irrespective of the physical /emotionally challenging package it comes with, we see the glint in their eye,their determination to fight/to survive against all the odds how could we NOT fight that fight with them? But, you will have some very controversial post though as a result of you blog maybe ,or maybe not ?

    You are an exceptional mum (have lost count of how many times I have told you my friend!) There are though many parents etc though that sadly (for their children and themselves) come nowhere near to your own incredibly high standards of care /parenting etc. For whatever reason they just can't deliver the goods either physically or emotionally, in many cases are damaged goods themselves through poor parenting being delivered to themselves as children etc. Sometimes it is just too difficult a road to travel alone, SO WHERE are their family/friends/neighbours?? We all know it is no good waiting for help from government agencies!!!! Society has gone backwards totally in this respect. I have met many parents over the years and never have I come across such a dedicated and motivational family as your own.

    I always said, and told staff too, none of us who were working with disabled children were in a position to judge ,unless we wore the same shoes as them and walked the same route 24 hours a day. We were there 8.30 to 3.30 with their little ones and their different challenges etc ,we all then went home and could sleep a full nights sleep and we should never, ever forget this fact. Our parents were on a 24 hour hamster wheel, with long school holidays etc, no night’s sleep etc etc. Generally I found most parents, did try to do their best but there were many, many factors which meant the word best was not an equal best for all children. It should be, as society should be there to help fill the gaps, but it just isn't these days sadly. I always said if everyone looked after their own family and a neighbour either side ,hey presto social workers would all become redundant(as they are as scarce as hens teeth I think they are probably invisible anyway!!)

    What Aaron had, all children should have but we know many don't have. No one has the right to hurt/take life etc of children, but you are only the excellent parent you are because of your parents/their parents before them. You and I are both fortunate to have such happy and adjusted upbringings....not all are as lucky. When I was left with the 6 boys alone, and only my single income I inevitably became stressy etc coping with it all, my cooking was rubbish too! So I just used to say to the boys no one can tell me I am the worlds most perfect mother because I know I am not BUT no one can say that I haven’t done my very best to support and love you all .I suppose that’s it we all try our best but each case is a very variable definition of the word best..,maybe??

  • Anonymous
    24 March 2009 at 13:17  

    There is no excuse for hurting any child. I don't believe in smacking either, it's bullying pure and simple.

  • HappyWifeHappyLife
    24 March 2009 at 13:18  

    Thank you so much for stopping by my blog. I haven't yet had a chance to explore your blog but will do so. I did read this particular post and agree with you 100% .... my niece has a severe disability and my first child was born 16 weeks early (he weighed 1 lb., 7 oz at birth), so I have a "heart" for special needs children. Very much so.

    Anyway, just wanted to say hi and wish you a beautiful, blessed day. :)


  • Sally's World
    24 March 2009 at 13:26  

    While I agree that it is not okay to hurt a child, I don’t want to make the mistake of lumping everything together here. Smacking is a subject for another day.

    Also there is a difference between parents who torture and abuse their children to those who suddenly snap and feel they can’t take any more.

    What upset me about the Clare Bates story is that she actually asked her father to kill her child…what if he had of done. She got sympathy for her plight, would she have got sympathy if he had died. My point is that children with disabilities are seen as less important. And while the stresses of raising a child with a disability is great, I want to know what could push you to that point…is it lack of support, personality, is it selfish…I don’t know…

    Carebear gave me great insight into post partum depression, and again, I don’t think this can be lumped together with the other stories…but it does give us insight into how depression can make you have those dark thoughts.

    I don’t know how much help is out there for mothers with post partum depression (a lot I hope)…what I know is there is not enough support out there for mothers with disabled children….we have to fight for everything, and some people may not be up to the fight for whatever reason.

  • RileyScott
    24 March 2009 at 13:55  

    Sally, I can understand your outrage, and I share it. I believe that if you bring a child into this world, then you have the responsibility of caring for it and protecting it. This is an absolute, and should not be optional.

    Here's the thing though. I also believe that many people who have children are either...
    A) not in the right place, state of mind, or time in their lives to have children but do
    B)Just don't know how to be parents
    C)After a few years of dealing with a difficult child (disabled or not), they long for their freedom, then say and do horrible things because out of resentment.

    Are these excuses for the behavior you describe...absolutely not. Just explanations that most people are not as strong as others, and some just should never have had children to begin with.

    If you want a look at the power of depression, I can give you a brief overview. I've been depressed twice in my life, and both times lasted for several years. I don't have children, but the thought of suicide did creep in both times, and both times it was through support of friends or a traumatic incident that I snapped me the hell out of it. If i didn't have these people in my life I could very well not be here right now.

    Some people don't have anyone but their child. They just lose hope. It's sad in society that this happens, but I know it does. I'm not saying that it's right and justified what any of these people did, but I do think that at the time they thought it was the only option they had. Whether it was or not.

    The double standard thing is always going to be there. Disabled people are "different", and people fear what they do not understand. Fear can take many forms, and in this case it takes the form of ignorance and pity. It's wrong, but it's not going to change until society changes, which I fear will not happen in my lifetime.

  • littletoesandcheerios
    24 March 2009 at 15:26  

    First of all, I love the title for this post. And I agree with you, before they reached that point they should have got help. I know they must have been sleep deprived and stressed beyond belief but nothing can excuse what they have done.
    I too had some postpartum issues, but I took it out on my hubby, poor guy!

    I'm so sorry for your loss.

  • Sassypants Wifey
    24 March 2009 at 17:02  

    I agree with you so much. I dont think it is fair for people to be treated differently based on the ability or disablity of their child, especially when it comes to care of them. I can't sympathize with someone who chooses to harm a child, when we live in a day when you can drop them off at a hospital and have them placed in a home with people who will rightly take care of them. I see no gain in killing a child to put them out of their misery. I could see how hard it would be to see a child in pain and suffering, but is it better to kill them by your own hand? I think every parent has those thoughts that maybe things are too hard. But I also think thats what teaches us how to cope. Without hard times we cant appreciate the good times. If life was all mediocre then how could we appreciate those moments that catch us by surprise and take our breath away. Much support to you Sally.

  • Anonymous
    24 March 2009 at 17:06  

    I am not in your cituation and do not have a disabled child but I do agree with your outrage. No matter if my son is sick from cancer and dieing or has a disablity or whatever the case may be, I would never even think of harming him or want to think of the idea of him leaving me. I remember when I was pregnant with him and they did the tests to see if he had down syndrome or if they could tell if there were any issues. Someone asked me what I would do if I found out he had a disability and I said I would love him and care for him regardless, I was not worried about the outcome. I was excited to have this child come into my life regardless. I have heard of options (not sure if they actually do this here) that are given to parents if they find there child is disabled before given birth to terminate. I was sick to think someone would actually do this!! Regardless, a child is the most amazing gift a person can recieve and should be treated as such regardless of the circumstance.

  • Our Family
    24 March 2009 at 18:30  

    I guess I live in a shell because while I know these things take place but I didn't realize how prevalent. Thank you for the insightful post...though discouraging to hear. I tend to side more with you Sally...I'm more in shock that there are moms out there that feel this way. I remember with my second child we had lost two boys prior to that pregnancy and the dr. said if there was a chance we knew this child would be born with a disability would we end the pregnancy. My husband and I both said no, God provided us with this child to care for whether disabled or not, He made the decision and gave us this life. I don't take that responsibility lightly. Not to mention I down right just love both my girls.

  • Young
    24 March 2009 at 18:54  

    Oh my God! I can't believe those parents said and did those things to their children. How dare them? I can't believe parents like that exist. Did they know how many mothers wants to have children and they can't have one? You have no idea what kind of hardships parents go through just to have one. It really gets lonely, desperate, and very depressive.

    Then their are children dying to feel loved, valued, cherished and accepted for what they are.

    Even I didn't felt all those things while growing up. It's very lonely that in the future I plan to give my future children almost all the things I didn't have and will never ever have and that's good memories and being truely loved, appreciated, and nourished as they deserved it.

  • "FINE"al thoughts...
    24 March 2009 at 20:01  

    Hey, Sally! I came across your blog via a comment you left on Carebear's. What a great post. I think it's so hard to be a mom and be able to conceive of the irrationality of other mom's who would deliberately harm their children. I don't understand it. At all. I, too, coped with post-partum depression but never thought about hurthing my children. Maybe running away, but never about hurting them. Sometimes I wonder if all the publicity on these types of cases puts ideas in people's minds that they would not have had otherwise. Just a thought.

  • Sally's World
    25 March 2009 at 12:45  

    Carebear...thank you once again for you honesty and telling your story, you gave me great insight into alot of stuff to think about!

    Anonymous are right, we are not all in a position to judge, every day I thank my lucky stars for the support I have and the strength I learned from my parents...who knows where I would be without it.

    Anonymous there is no excuse, however I more wanted to understand what it is that pushes someone to this point, I'm not talking about abuse, as much as snapping under pressure.

    Happywifehappylife...thank you, it is the heart and love I feel too that makes me want to understand what it is that can be done to change attitudes.

    RileyScott...I'm glad you came through your depression, I think I have learned through the comments that it is the support that makes the difference, it needs to be available to all.

    Littletoesandcheerios...thank you for your insight, again support seems to be the key. I take things out on my hubbie too...I do wonder who I would take it out on if he wasn't here though!

    Sassypants wifey...I feel this way too, all that we go through shapes us, I wouldn't change anything that happened. I wish I knew what stops people asking at that crucial point.

    Dragon...this is how I feel, life is precious, our babies are a gift and perfect no matter what.I'm glad you came through this decision with a positive attitude.

    Ourfamily...I know my children are gifts, Love nurture protect, its the only way I know how to be a parent. I think I learned that from my own upbringing, maybe this makes a big difference to how we cope too...

    Young..thank you so much for your comment, It must be incredibly hard for those who are desparate for children to understand. I cannot imagine myself in that possition, but feel very strongly for those who are.

    "FINE" althoughts...thank you so much, I have some friends who sufered from post partum depression, and this was more how they felt, I guess there are any levels of this and any depression.

    Thank you everyone for your comments, I have more understanding,also more questions LOL...I have felt your support strongly and wish you all a great day.

  • Jamie D
    25 March 2009 at 14:26  

    Inspiring blog! Your strength, humor and ability to empower people through your blogs is so wonderful.

  • Sally's World
    25 March 2009 at 14:36  

    Thank you Jamie D, your words mean so much, I am touched.

  • Kaila
    25 March 2009 at 17:01  

    I'm with you on this one Sally. I become absolutely sick and outraged when I hear about parents taking the life of their child (regardless of if they're disabled or not). I really appreciated your insight into the media's take on things-- you're right--when disabled children are harmed, pictures do not stream the papers and television as they do when a healthy child is harmed. It should absolutely not be that way.

  • LaurieJ
    25 March 2009 at 21:34  

    Good job on putting this out there for everyone to think about! I believe there is a special place in hell for people who hurt children. And to take it a step further on the ones who are especially defenseless.
    You probably hear it all the time but you seem like an amazing mother and I am sure your family is blessed to have you as much as you are blessed to have them :-)

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