I read a post on a community page online tonight, a Mum whose daughter had been injured in a hardware shop because a vanity had fallen on her face. The Mum had posted pictures and the story to warn other parents to take extra care of their children, and to alert them to the fact this particular store had no first aid kit available at the time. She had taken her eyes off her daughter for two seconds to lift an item, and her daughter had unintentionally managed to pull the vanity down on top of her. She was two-years old (she’s fine by the way – bumps and scratches but doing okay according to the messages).
My immediate thought was this poor Mum! What a terrible accident. And secondly – where was the store’s first aid kit?!
I don’t normally comment on stories online, because to be honest I can’t be bothered with the backlash when someone disagrees with your opinion, or your spelling, or your grammar. And again I didn’t comment tonight, even though in my mind I sent her some big hugs and positive Mama vibes. But I read other people’s comments. And to start with I saw what I had hoped I would see. Compassion and empathy. Virtual hugs and love being sent to the little girl and to the Mum who was clearly in shock from everything that had happened.
And then came the comments that – well – sucked. The “you should have known better”, the “you’re such an irresponsible parent”, and the “stop blaming the business for something that’s your fault”. The judgement from strangers. The high horse riding. Those who have obviously never made an error in judgement, a mistake, or simply had an accident.
I don’t get it. When the story is a personal experience, told straight from the horse’s mouth, why is there a need to make judgement? How will our words affect the outcome of the situation that has already passed? How will our words help to heal the little girl? The experience alone will have been enough to ensure this Mama always has an extra eye on her daughter from now on.
Lessons can always be learned from accidents, and by sharing the stories, others can learn from them too. All this Mama wanted to do was encourage others to keep their babies close, and to always have eyes on them, to warn them of the potential consequences, and to bring to attention the lack of a first aid kit in the store she visited. She wasn’t asking for sympathy, but she also wasn’t asking for ridicule and personal attacks.
Each time I see this happen, I know there is one less Mum out there willing to tell her story publicly. For fear of being abused. For fear of being attacked. Because online – the words seem to come along a lot harsher than one would give in person. That one Mum will tuck her story deep inside her. One less chance to warn others of a danger she’s encountered. One less chance to hear how a situation was dealt with. One less chance for Mamas everywhere to rally together to uplift, give compassion and love this poor Mama. The opportunity to support her is lost. All because she read how another Mama was treated when that Mama voiced her story.
As Mums we’re all just trying to do our best. And accidents do happen. Kids do things only kids would do, sometimes things you would never expect them to do, sometimes things you tried hard to avoid. Know that when an accident happens, that Mum is doing it tough already without any judgement or abuse she receives online. Send her some love, or the child some love, or if you really can’t say something constructive or helpful, don’t you think it’s best to say nothing at all?