Monday, April 28, 2008

When living in a bubble seems like it would be nice

I'm starting to realize that being jaded has its perks -- mostly because I haven't been able to shrug off tragic news stories these days.

And in my line of work, it's practically a job requirement.

I know it's because I'm a mother. I just look at things differently now. When a 45-year-old man got killed today because he was mowing his lawn and his tractor fell over on him, suffocating him to death, I just couldn't shake the creeping sense of despair. What about his kids? He won't get to see them graduate. Or get married. Or meet his grandchildren.

When I read a wire story about a 30-year-old man who sexually assaulted, burned and beat an 11-month-old girl to death and only got 30 years in prison because the judge "wants him to be able to make something of his life when he gets out," I was enraged. I thought, what about the life he took? What about that little girl? What could she have made with her life?

I know it's very unlike me to dwell on these things, much less write about it, but it's affecting me profoundly. I can't look at my daughter without seeing such hope and innocence and potential. And how am I ever going to protect her from freak accidents and senseless violence without becoming completely (and admittedly irrationally) paranoid?

I've always thought that I would be capable of a truly selfless act if I was faced with a split-second decision to help those I care about, rather than helping myself. But now I know, without any hesitation, I would do anything -- including give my life -- to protect my child.

But sometimes, sadly, it doesn't feel like enough.


sarahhhhh said...

ever since starting nursing school and working in the hospital i've become more paranoid and at the same time i've lost a lot of my "oh my gosh!" reactions when crazy things happen. the world is a wild place and the hospital (and newspaper) are micro concentrated real life experiences all balled up into one place. it can be exhausting to mentally take on. i perfer to just be.

Shalini said...

Ohh I feel exactly the same way!

The world has changed so much since we were kids.

That's completely outrageous that someone gets 30 years for something so heinous, and that whole debacle up in NY about the unarmed bachelor being shot the night before his wedding...

Sometimes you just can't help but be stunned by man's inhumanity to man.

But think about all the happy and full of hope stories there are out there... I wish there was a newspaper that only reported the good things that went on since we have so many that report the insanity.

Traci said...

I know what you mean. Being a mother has meant a shift in how I view the world and the stories in it. It's not hard for the roaring lion mama to come out in me when I need to protect my cubs (or anyone else's for that matter).

That has a lot to do with why I like to read blogs, too, however. It seems like all the good stories are magnified in their intensity as well. I read things about other moms and my heart warms.

No wonder men call us hormonal. = )

Marsha said...

I feel for you. I don't really watch, read, or listen to much news since I became a mom. I became too porous, too open, too vulnerable. To have it be my professions would be tough.

Perhaps you can be one to infuse your profession with grace?

Erin in Scranton said...

I know exactly how you feel, though I don't have kids. When I write about a sexual assault with a child victim or even a case involving child abuse, it's hard not to let it affect me. Something one of the assistant district attorneys (who solely prosecutes people for crimes against children) said will always stay with me: She said that because of what she does, every time she sees a man and a child together alone, she thinks 'I wonder if he's abusing her.' Very sad.

fiona said...

All mothers feel the same way. Ok, correction: all GOOD mothers feel the same way.
But whenever I think, "I'd give my life in an instant to save Katelyn's", I have to stop and think: I might be saving her from this one thing, but once I'm gone, who will be there to save her from everything else that will come?? Sure her dad will be there,'s not the same. I'm her MOM, and I feel like no one can love and protect her like I can...

Jennifer said...

You have stumbled upon another part of the "your life will change forever once you have kids" statement.

All parents feel that terrible sense of dread and relate it directly to "what if that was my child"? One of my biggest fears in life would be for someone to kidnap my child. To image one of my babys trapped, alone and scared, calling for mommy.... it sends shivers down my spine. Its part of the reason I NEVER let my daughers walk through a store without holding my hand. Just the thought of some freak grabbing my child and me not knowing where they are or how they are or how to save them.. makes me sick. And the sad thing is it happens every day and just like that guy who got a mere 30 years... sometimes the people get light sentences or never get caught. Scary scary world we live in... especially once you have children.

erica said...

I've always been told i would be great at something like social work or a job caring for people in a hospital, but I just don't have the heart for it. Any tragedy ways on me much longer than it seems to on others. I just can't shrug it off. When one of my closest friend's dad died in a car accident when we were 13, I was devastated. I felt a little ashamed, because I was handling it much worse than even my friend. I just kept thinking about things like he would never be able to walk her down the isle at her wedding or countless other things. So although I don't have kids, in a way I completely understand. And I have a feeling I will be exactly the same way when I have children.

Ray said...

I never knew what to think, of my feeling numb towards certain things. Like I wanted to feel something but I couldn't. I guess now I can say that I'm, "jaded" towards certain things. I don't know why but that's how it is. But certain things I can't shake off no matter what. Even if I'll never know the person in real life.

On another note:

I find it so beautiful when people write that they'll give their lives for their child. It's one of the most heroic things you could ever do. And though I'm not a mother, I like you: would hope that in a split-second decision of life and death, that I would give my life for my loved ones. I can't say 100% that I would (even though I'd like to). Because the truth is, you never know until you're in that situation.

I hope that wherever your family goes in life that, you guys will always be safe.

Take, care.

Anonymous said...

I am not a mother.. But I was sexually abused as a child between the ages of 5 and 7 by three different men. I have to admit that now, I am terrified to have children. I'm afraid I'll never be able to do enough to protect them..

I cannot fathom how humans can do such horrific things to one another..

chelsea said...

I get easily anxious so I tend to avoid reading hard news. I'm planning on majoring in journalism though, but for sports.

Sportscenter is my kinda news.

the plainsman said...

I guess that's another of those things they don't tell you about when you are pregnant. How having a child totaly changes one's perspective on life, your child's and your own.

I believe its all a balance though. One focuses upon those things we can realistically do to to protect our loved ones and not dwell on every possible random occurance.

It is difficult to not focus on every tragic story, whether one works the news, is a public servant, health or disaster worker or even just a walking around human being paying attention to the world around them.

But it does not necessarilly make one calous or jaded to not allow one's self internalize every loss. Yes, easier said than done. But striving for the balance will be freeing. Free to be able to protect when it is necessary and free to give wings when they need them to fly.

Finally, I bet they might have some seminars on that at your professional conferences as they do for others who have to work with more than their share of the bad stuff in life.