I’m not judging.

I love twitter for many reasons, but some days it can be vile, and today was one of those days. People rushing to say ‘I told you so’, so gleeful and smug that they ‘knew’ something wasn’t adding up, that they had quite forgotten this isn’t a game of Cluedo, but actual real life for someone, for a family, for a neighbourhood.

After the shock, the rush of judgement. At this stage I understand that Mikaeel’s mother has been detained by police; she has not been charged or found guilty of anything.  Still they are baying for blood, the lions are pacing, salivating, impatiently awaiting the moment when they will have their victim tossed into their den to be torn from limb to limb, to the accompaniment of roaring crowds.

I don’t know what happened to that poor little boy. But I’m not judging his mother now, and what’s more, I still won’t be standing in judgement if it turns out that he died at her hands.

I might, once, have been inclined to join in with the chorus of incomprehension, of condemnation, of complete and utter conviction that I wouldn’t be able to kill someone whatever the circumstances, and never, ever a child. I think for many years that was my reaction whenever I heard of the occasional sad cases that were paraded across the media.

But then something happened to me. After my third baby, I began to lose the ability to cope, and it didn’t come back in a few weeks, like it did with the bigger two. Instead I just carried on spiralling slowly downwards. Luckily my mum lives nearby and was great at taking the baby off to give me some space and time – which I wisely used to run around manically trying to get on top of all the chores, rather than doing something really sensible, like catching up on sleep. Despite this help, I was exhausted, dealing with constant vomit during the day and constant feeding from a hungry baby during the night – reflux is no joke, let me tell you. And of course keeping a bright brave face for the school run ‘Oh yes, we’re doing great, thanks, yes, busy as ever, yes, gosh, must run, oh coffee would be lovely sometime but I’m just so stacked at the moment’ roughly translated as ‘I can’t smile for much longer, please just let me go home, no I’m not doing coffee with you because that’d mean I have to keep it together for 45 mins and that’s sure as hell something I haven’t done for a while’.

I thought I was just tired and it would all get better when I could just get some sleep. I remember clearly when I realised it wasn’t going to get better, sleep or no sleep. My youngest was 2 by this time. TWO – I can’t believe now, looking back, that this was my normal for so long. I heard on the news about a desperately sad case of a mother killing her child. And, instead of my gut reaction being one of incomprehension, it was something different. It was fear. Fear because right at that moment, I could sort of see the path that this mother had taken. I could see how someone could become so desperate, so unable to cope, so far away from themselves, that they would do the most horrendous thing imaginable. I don’t mean by this that I was ever in danger of doing something awful. But it was terrifying to realise that I could understand someone else’s danger.

I went to the doctor at that point. Well, not quite at that point – it took a crisis about which I am not yet ready to write to finally get me there. But I went, and thank god I have a lovely, sensible GP, and a supportive health visitor, and that massive, comforting NHS safety net which immediately did its stuff. I’m lucky.  My skirmish with the post natal black dog was relatively mild compared to what some people go through, and once it was identified and treated, life did, over time, return to how it was before.

But one thing hasn’t returned to how it was before. And that is this – I cannot bring myself to stand in judgement. I cannot join in with the chorus. I don’t know what happened in Scotland. But I do know how easy it is to deny – and to hide – mental illness. I have caught a glimpse – thankfully, only a glimpse, of what it is like to be so far away from coping, so far away from yourself, that you cannot rationalise anything, anyhow.

I can’t imagine why a mother would kill her child. But I equally can’t imagine that a sane woman would kill her child.

And that is why I’m not judging.



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23 thoughts on “I’m not judging.

  1. That’s a very understanding post. I too understand. I never had PND, but there have over the past 4 years been moments where I was so at my wits end with raising a child who wouldn’t stop crying, then tantrumming, then arguing that I have lost all rational thought and had to stop myself doing some pretty stupid things.

    So I do understand why perhaps a mother, in the heat of the moment, might do something really silly.

    I don’t know what this mother has done, and why, but I do understand how some mothers could be driven to the edge of reason.
    Doubtfulmum recently posted…Silent SundayMy Profile

  2. Bless you for being so forthcoming about dark times. A couple of years ago I decided to be open about my emotional struggles with all sorts of things, including mothering. Talk about opening the floodgates – it seems that so many mums I speak to conversationally, in the playground, on play dates and with those I’m closer to have all had, at the very least, moments of utter nonsensical, illogical, unhappy, worrisome feelings, and then actions that stem from those feelings. I’ve come scarily close to doing unforgivable things to those I actually love the most and whose well-being I take as the most serious thing in my life. And I did behave in a way that frightened them (and me). It was all just too much. Smile on the outside and then run home, lock the door and weep or yell. Parenting (and for me step-parenting also) has been one of the hardest things I’ve had to tackle. Fortunately I don’t know how that little boy’s mum feels right now. But maybe sadly it’s a case of there by the grace of God go I and many more mums.

    1. That’s the thing isn’t it – we’re all so good at pretending we’re fine that we are doing ourselves out of support from each other…there’s so much pressure (or at least we put so much pressure on ourselves) to show everyone a brave face and never admit that we’re struggling. Floodgates being open is a much healthier way, I feel! Thank you, as always for reading and commenting xx
      LearnerMother recently posted…I’m not judging.My Profile

  3. I know that it has since come out that something has happened at the hands of the mother. However, like you, I find it hard to judge, at least until I have ALL the facts. We are quick to assume she did something awful, but I’d rather wait and here the full story xx
    Ojo Henley recently posted…Meal Plan Monday 20/01My Profile

  4. Such a well worded post, I whole-heartedly agree with you and feel glad I didn’t have much time to be on twitter in the last day or so to see it all. I was talking about this case yesterday with a fellow mum, saying how yet again the media doesn’t have the full story, so instead chooses to speculate and have ‘experts’ speculate, just to keep the column inches coming. But twitter is another matter entirely, it’s so easy to spew out a clever tweet, but so much harm can be done. I for one feel no desire to pass judgement on this woman, this mother, certainly while none of us have any idea what happened.
    Luci – Mother.Wife.Me recently posted…#AllAboutYou Link & Pin Party Week 3My Profile

  5. I understand the feeling of wanting to do something to your child, I really do.
    I couldn’t bear my eldest to come near me at one point, it was awful, I had the most awful PND imaginable, made worse by my ex husband beating me at 27 weeks pregnant with her.

    I really get the strength of her feelings if this is the case, however, she could have given him up, she could have gone to the doctors for help.
    I’d like to know where the health visitor is in all this, cos its her duty to look for indications of abuse or bonding issues.

    I tried to raise my eldest as best I could, and got as far as I could with her, when she was eventually assessed as having special needs, so I felt bad for no reason as did my daughter.
    She’s now 15 and has to live in a residential unit, nothing to do with anything I’ve done, it’s apparently biological. I spent years blaming myself only to find out it was out of my hands.

    I don’t understand how she could have took his life, but I do know she must have been pushed very far for whatever reason, I’m wondering where the father is in all this, why are the fathers never blamed for anything.

    A man does a runner and it’s accepted, that’s what blokes do, and we are the slags & scroungers that should have kept our legs shut.

    If us women can’t cope and leave our kids with the bloke, he’s a hero for raising them alone & is congratulated, given ultimate sympathy & support.

    Parenting is bloody hard, especially right now with endless crap from the government, people on benefits are having to starve etc, she did wrong, but I’m not surprised someone somewhere has snapped.

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