Monday, October 17, 2011

Mother Drunk When Baby Vanished!

This story is all over the news today. And it's exactly the kind of story that makes me see red.

Let me be clear. I do not think it's a good idea to be intoxicated while being "on duty" as the primary caregiver of children.

(There's also an argument to be made that as a parent one is always, at some level, on duty. Even if it's Girls' Night Out and Daddy's home with the children, if disaster strikes, won't Mom be immediately back on duty, even if she's had a couple of margaritas?)

Also. I don't know the specifics of this case, and I have no idea if Deborah Bradley had something to do with her 11-month-old daughter's disappearance.

My complaint is with the way this story is being reported and with the popular response.

1) SHE WAS DRUNK! SHE IS A BAD MOTHER! Bradley admits that she might have had 5 glasses of wine after her daughter went to bed on the night in question, while the baby's father was at work. It certainly would have been far more responsible to drink when a sober adult was available to care for the child. But this response vastly underestimates how common I believe it is for parents to drink while being . . . parents.

2) SHE PUT HER BABY TO BED UNREASONABLY EARLY! SHE IS A BAD MOTHER! Bradley says she last saw her daughter when she put her to bed at 6:40 PM. This is a normal, healthy bedtime for an infant - depending on the child, of course. My 6-month-old son is often ready for bed at 6:00 PM. At this same age, his older sister liked to be asleep at 7:00. Suggesting that 6:40 is crazy early is . . . ignorant and judgmental. As parents we need to watch our children and follow their cues.

3) SHE DID NOT CHECK ON HER SLEEPING BABY! SHE IS A BAD MOTHER! I don't check on my sleeping babies every night, and I am a good mother. Seriously. I only check on them when I have reason (logical or not) to be concerned about them. Otherwise, opening the sticky bedroom door, walking over to the bed, leaning over to listen, bringing my special mama scent into the room, maybe even laying a hand on the baby's chest to make sure he's breathing . . . all of this has the strong potential to wake him up!

4) SHE IS FAT! SHE IS A BAD MOTHER! I've seen a fair amount of speculation that she must have inadvertently smothered her child since she's overweight. Likewise, since the parents have different last names, I've read a couple of comments from people blaming this on the parents not being married. These responses are examples of common, ignorant bigotry. (So glad my three children have survived thus far despite me having a different last name than their father.)

I hope baby Lisa Irwin is found. I hope she is OK. And I hope that the way the media is reporting this story - focusing on the BAD MOTHER judgement rather than on details that might help with a search for a missing child - doesn't hinder the search/investigation.

But I strongly resent the tone of this discussion.


Cate said...

totally agree with you.

Kathy G said...

I wonder how many of the commenters are even mothers?

Sarahlynn said...

I wonder the exact same thing.

sarah said...

Probably most of them. There is no one more judgmental of mothers than another mother.

Sarahlynn said...

So true. Perhaps we feel that if a terrible event (or bad behavior or whatever) is All Mother's Fault and we avoid making the same mistake she made, then our own children will be safe.