Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Sweetness

This past weekend we attended Husband's family Christmas potluck. He has 9 aunts and uncles, so there's usually quite a crowd. And it's a diverse crowd at that.

Some of them are just like Husband and me, but twangier. Some are country to the core; simple folks with simple values. And some could have been extras in Deliverance. I am not exaggerating even a little bit. I have to say though, that even uncle Jimmy, who is like the Hillbilly Grisly Adams, has a certain charm to him. Though he scared me a little bit (okay, a lot) the first time I met him, it's hard not to like him. He's what they call "good people" as are most of the attendees.

There are however, some not so good people. There are black sheep in every family, I suppose, and Husband's family, being unusually large, has more than average. But they mostly stay away, or make a brief appearance to hug and kiss Nanny and deliver her gift. This year Nanny is gone. Its the first Christmas without her. So though there was the usual Christmas gaiety, her absense was felt. Some just couldn't confront the incongruously huge hole left by their tiny Nanny, and the crowd this year was noticeably smaller.

Because the family is so large, there are still people I don't know, even after 13 years of Christmas potlucks. So I wasn't surprised when I spied a little girl I hadn't seen before. She was about four, maybe 5. In contrast to most of the other little girls that age, who were dressed in their holiday best and painstakingly groomed, this little girl was wearing ragged blue jeans and her hair was dishevelled. But her shabby appearnce could not diguise the fact that she was a beautiful child. She had curly blonde hair, china blue eyes, and huge cheeks that were flushed pink with excitement.

I noticed her because she was seated at the same table as us, with three desserts in front of her.

Husband chuckled and described how she had asked him to cut her a piece of apple crumb cake. He asked, motioning, if she wanted a piece that big, or that big. She said she wanted a piece THAT big. Husband, to whom diminutive females in distress are like kryptonite, was powerless to refuse. He cut her a piece THAT big.

I scolded him good naturedly about letting her have three desserts, but he swore to me that he had only served her one. Apparently two other hapless adults had fallen prey to her charms as well.

I asked Sister-In-Law who the child's mother was. Tight lipped, she named the cousin in question and made the family connections for me, which had become automatic for her when discussing the various branches of their unusually large family tree.

I knew her mother only by sight. She's a brittle looking woman; the kind that other women eye with caution. The kind that men are happy to hook up with because there's no need for the preliminary niceties, unless sharing swigs of Cuervo out of a paper bag and eating pilfered bar peanuts counts as wining and dining.

I said, "Well someone should tell her. That child will get a bellyache if she eats all that!"

She didn't respond right away, but then said quietly, "Bless her little heart. She don't get stuff like that at home. She just don't know what to do." I saw that while tears stood in her eyes, her face was hard with anger.

"Why haven't I seen her before?" I asked.

"She got taken away for a long time." said Sister-In-Law tightly.

I asked why, not really sure I wanted to know, but unable to help myself.

"Her Mama couldn't be bothered to feed her."

Right then and there, any vestige of holiday spirit I'd been able to manufacture 900 miles away from home, in 80 degree weather, evaporated. Like Sister-In-Law, I was angry.

Because forgetting to feed a child is not like forgetting to feed a dog (or, a Garfieldesque feline who can obviously wait until the next meal). An infant will wail, a toddler will beg, a child will plead. My non-verbal Diminutive One used to indicate hunger by rubbing his tummy and saying "MMMMMMM-mmmm." Ignoring him would have meant ignoring every single instinct I posessed as a mother.

I began to think of how much of my mothering involves food. There is breakfast for one, then the other. An inexhaustable supply of snacks for both. Lunch on weekends. Dinner. When I'm not preparing it, I'm shopping for it. When I'm not shopping for it, I'm planning to shop for it. When we're busy, or on the go, I'm constantly worried about when and what I will feed my children. How will I squeeze in a square meal before they rush off to the ballpark? How will I manage a hot breakfast in a hotel room? Where will we stop that I can get something wholesome and not entirely saturated in fat and preservatives? Maybe I should pack a cooler, or at least throw a few granola bars and bananas in the car. It's never ending.

The point is, feeding a hungry child is as basic and instinctual as breathing. Not feeding a hungry child is a conscious choice. You can't "forget" unless you make a concerted effort to do so.

Now, I love my boys. And I've managed to get over my disappointment at not having girls and appreciate all the ways in which I am extremely lucky to have them. Being a mother of boys is who I am and I like it.

But I still experience an occasional pang of regret at not having a girl.

To see such a beautiful little girl and know that her mother does not cherish her for the the precious gift that she is made my guts twist into tight knots of impotent rage. Watching her scoop spoonful after spoonful of innocent pleasure into her sweet little mouth, knowing it might be her last for some time....well, it broke my heart into a million pieces.

I didn't really know what to do with that. So I pushed it away. And eventually I was distracted by all the merry making. When I looked again, she was gone, but two desserts remained. She had eaten only one. For some reason, that made me heartbroken all over again.

There's really no point to my story, I suppose. If there has to be one, then I guess it would be that no matter how horrible most of us think we are at parenting, as long as our children have food in their bellies and tons of love and approval...the rest is pretty incidental.

Hug your children. Cherish them. Never take them for granted.

And let them have sweet treats now and then. Life is nothing without a little sweetness and we'll never appreciate it the way we did when we were kids.

17 Comments:

  • At 9:44 AM, Blogger Mysit said…

    Bless your heart. As another mother of two boys who also pines for a daughter in odd moments, this breaks my heart. And like you - I can't imagine "forgetting" to feed my kids. I just don't understand people like that.

    *sigh*

     
  • At 10:48 AM, Blogger bubandpie said…

    I wish this post were on paper so I could let a tear trip on the page.

     
  • At 11:56 AM, Blogger Kathy said…

    So heartbreaking. My job is working exclusively on child abuse cases and, after five years, I've about reached my limit. It's really tough to see when you have little ones at home.

    Most of the parents have substance abuse or mental health issues, so they can barely take care of themselves, let alone a sweet, innocent child.

    My job is especially tough this time of year.

     
  • At 12:48 PM, Blogger BethGo said…

    That is just wrong.
    My kid is the opposite. He barely eats. I am constantly chasing him around the house trying to coerce a little food into him and I still worry that he's not getting enough.
    You're right. No mother "forgets" to feed their baby.
    I'm sitting here living vicariously through your experience wondering if there is anything we could do for this little one.
    I guess all I can say is that your post really has me thinking.
    Thanks for that.

     
  • At 1:07 PM, Blogger The Sour Kraut said…

    It just goes to show you how ugly and evil addiction can be. That is very, very sad.

    I realize I'm making an assumption, but I would say it's a pretty good guess. There are few things that mothers put above their children.

     
  • At 6:03 PM, Blogger Veronica Mitchell said…

    My father, a gentle and peaceable man, was discussing a similar horrible set of parents with me once. He said quietly, "Some people should be horse-whipped." I knew how he felt.

     
  • At 8:00 PM, Blogger Mrs. Chicky said…

    This just broke my heart. I can't imagine not feeding a child, any child. If a kid is hungry you give them food, it's instinctual and I don't think you have to be a parent to feel that way. Unfortunately, i have a black sheep or two like that in my family and it kills me to see how they treat their children.

     
  • At 8:22 PM, Anonymous mothergoosemouse said…

    It's difficult enough to hear about complete strangers who don't care for their children. I can hardly imagine how awful it would be to know a relative - albeit by marriage - who was so neglectful.

     
  • At 11:31 PM, Blogger Mamma said…

    I'll just never understand.

    With that big family, I hope that little girl has someone who is looking out for her.

    Truly heartbreaking!!

     
  • At 8:35 AM, Anonymous Jenny said…

    How awful.

    I've gotta go hug my little girl right now.

     
  • At 10:06 AM, Blogger jen said…

    i can't stand hearing this. i want to take that little girl and love her. how unnecessary it is to be cruel. i'll never understand it.

    poor little one.

     
  • At 10:22 AM, Anonymous Andrea said…

    How is it that the girl was returned to her mother if she's still neglectful? If the woman couldn't be bothered to feed her before, what changed that she's going to do it now? That just makes me so mad, and so sad for that little girl.

     
  • At 12:44 PM, Blogger Oh, The Joys said…

    Don't you just wish you could bring her home with you?!!

     
  • At 1:02 PM, Blogger Sandra said…

    Stories like this stir up such emotion in me. Anger, sadness, frustration. That poor sweet thing will be in my thoughts all day. I would have had to restrain myself from scooping her up and bringing her home.

     
  • At 6:42 PM, Blogger Rock the Cradle said…

    Heartbreaking...

    And but for the blue eyes (and the witch of a mother) she could be my daughter.

    We both need a big snuggle right now.

     
  • At 5:29 PM, Blogger bubandpie said…

    I was thinking about this story some more today. Obviously there was serious neglect involved, or the child would not have been taken away. But it may have been incompetence more than cruelty. As Bethgo said, there are children who will not, of their own volition, eat enough to thrive, and a good parent in that situation bends over backwards to hide calories in the child's food and to ensure that the child receives adequate nutrition. A parent who, for whatever reason, is less than adequate may not even realize that a child who never seems hungry, or who refuses food when offered it, isn't just "fine."

    I hope for that little girl's sake that her mother has made some significant changes in her life.

     
  • At 4:12 AM, Blogger c2s Hayley said…

    *wiping eyes...sniffling*

    Unfortunately, I live in a town where this is all too common. Alcoholism and drug addiction are a huge problem, and the children suffer. It is too heartbreaking...

     

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