Tag Archives: amanda todd

Judging mothers

26 Dec

I’d intended (and still do) to post some holiday things but I was just listening to Amanda Todd‘s mother, Carol Todd, in an interview on CBC. I thought she was some kind of parenting expert at first; she was talking about talking to your kids while you drive in the car to get ice cream.

I admit that when I heard she was Amanda Todd’s mother, at first I thought maybe the drive to get ice cream story was fabricated. Because of course if a child commits suicide, the mother is to blame. I recognize that this is ridiculous; children actually are able to have all kinds of serious problems and still have perfectly good and decent mothers. And yet, even though I can talk to myself about my biases, and Carol Todd’s message — that her daughter had multiple issues; that she still wants to get Amanda’s message out — seems rational and reasonable to me, there is a piece of me that thinks that she must be covering something up, some essential error in her approach or even her love.

I have lost a baby and I know how isolating that experience was, even when it was clearly not my husband’s and my fault. I cannot imagine how much worse it is, or at least different in the texture, the daily absence of it, to lose an older child. Nor, having had my many sleepless nights of what-ifs, how terrible it would be to not just be the mother, but to be the mother for all of us people listening to the radio on Boxing Day with our kids, whole enough and hale enough, driving us crazy as they run madly about the house trashing their brand new toys, strewing mess around the holiday-clean hallways. I want to let go of my preconceptions and just stand with this moment of radio, a truly brave moment to put your parenting on the national record with your child a successful suicide. If she were here, I think, I would probably see her and not all the ghosts of mothers past and present and then I would sit with her.

And then I would know adds that terrible self that really, really wants it to be her fault. Because if it was her fault, then maybe one day, it will not be mine. Maybe one day my kids will bring their spouses home for Christmas, unscathed — or at least, unscathed enough — by my own failures as a parent.

I judge other mothers not just because I judge myself. In our narcissistic culture I’m not really sure I judge myself enough all the time, actually, all the mommy blogs making Pinterest crafts while relating tales of that time I totally lost in (in this cute way) tee hee. No, I judge them because that is, after all, the air we still breathe.

When my almost-2-year-old went to daycare, the first few weeks he cried daily. And often, he cried for his father. We have been pretty equal parents since his birth, particularly since he was our second, although I had the breasts and the maternity leave to be home with him 52 weeks, carting him around in the Moby to pick up his brother and so I’m not really sure that was that equal and…why? Why after all that (and 6 months of a nanny) would he cry for his father? Why? The staff would laugh and remark that all the other kids cried for their mummies.

But my little guy cried for his daddy because he’s just like that. And it is 2012, for fuck’s sake.

And no one could believe it. That’s the air we all breathe, as parents and judgmental strangers on the Internet. Kids should miss their mothers. And mothers should make things right for their kids.