North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

July 24, 2013

Danielle Cater: Baby's tragic death in Homewood is no excuse for judgement

By Danielle Cater
North Jefferson News

COMMENTARY — Putting a judgment on people is easier than you might realize. How many people judged that mother who left her child in the car in Homewood last week? It’s easy to sit back and say that a mother should never forget her child. Go ahead and put your stamp of disapproval all over this mom. But in reality, that could be any mother’s story.

We get into such a routine that when things are out of the ordinary, we still run on memory. How many times has there been construction work on your route home and when you drove by it in the morning, you tried to remind yourself to take a different route when you returned, but forgot. We are creatures of habit and when we do things out of our regular routine, it’s easy to forget.

I have never left my children anywhere unattended, but I can see how it would be easy to do so. I have several friends and family members who have thought their spouse had the children only to arrive at a different destination and discover that their children were left behind. It happens a lot, but it doesn’t always have the tragic ending that this circumstance had.

I cannot even imaging being that momma when she realized what had happened. How her heart must have dropped the very moment her mind recalled that she had forgotten to take her baby to the sitter for the day.

If you’ve never been the mother of a 1-year-old, then you really have no idea what the first year of parenting is like. There are late nights, early mornings, continuous running around and worrying over everything. People call it “mommy brain” but it is proven that women are often much more forgetful in the first few years of their children’s lives.

You may be telling yourself that you love your child too much to forget them, but let me tell you something: the amount of love you have for your baby wouldn’t help in this situation.

I think one of the worse parts of this story is how some media outlets have posted stories about how this mom could have saved her baby. They have things such as, as a parent should always look in the back seat of their car and make sure they have gotten their children out.

The truth of the matter is that moms put their children in and out of cars about 7,000 times a week and it can get confusing whether if you have them with you at every stop. Any idiot knows that you should make sure you get your children out of the car when you get out. The mom’s problem wasn’t that she didn’t look in the back seat, it was simply that she got caught up in her day to day routine and since it was a little out of the ordinary, it set itself up to be disasterous.

We don’t need news outlets telling us to watch our children; all parents know that. But sometimes life throws us curves and that is what happened in this situation.

As I laid in bed last night thinking of what that momma might be doing at that moment, my eyes pooled up with tears. She has, no doubt, seen the awful things that people have said about what a horrible person she is, what a terrible mom she must be and how she should be punished some way.

She must hate the sight of her vehicle. She has probably thought about how her baby, the one she gave birth to only a few months ago and has been her whole world since, must have felt during her last hours of life. The pain hurts worse than any damage a knife could do to her heart and soul.

The father of the child is probably dealing with the grief of losing his child and the fact that he is going to have to comfort his wife without blaming her for the death of their infant. The extended family has to be gripped with pain, anger, hurt... all of the emotions that come along when tragedy strikes. And the last thing that these people need is for someone to rub in their faces how that they could have prevented this. The last thing they need is for someone to tell them what horrible parents they are and how neglectful they have been to their baby.

No, these people need their community to rally around them and put their arm around their shoulders and reassure them that they are in their corner and that they will mourn with them over the loss of this precious life.

What good does it do to say hurtful things about this mom? She needs prayer and shoulders to cry on, not people looking down their noses at her and pointing their fingers in her direction.

Look hard at yourself before you start to put your judgment on others. It was a mistake that any of us could have made. It’s a sad, tragic mistake and my prayers go out to that family. May God hold them tonight with the same tender hands that He now holds their sweet, baby girl with.