Did I do the right thing? I posted yesterday about my experience stopping a drunk driver, exploring not only the experience, but also my struggle in the days afterward regarding the impact on my children who were left to watch without the support they deserved in that moment.
“They saw it all – they saw both their parents step forward and take responsibility, and they saw both their parents being beaten by a woman who was too drunk to listen. They’re old enough to remember this one (7&9). I feel tremendous guilt for not having been able to care for them, leaving them to watch without being able to preserve their innocence. We simply had no choice. I pray to god that the memory we carry is of their parents doing the right thing, of their mother caring for them by caring enough to step forward.” Read the original post…
I’ve received some pretty amazing responses in a short 24 hours, expressions of gratitude and respect, and heartfelt letters from some who have lost loved ones to drunk drivers. A few have shared their own stories of stepping forward to prevent violence against others, and each has clearly understood that strange blend of clarity and hesitancy in that moment of saying Yes to action.
One Mothering reader, however, had this to say:
“Yeah, you did have a choice. You could have called the police. Clearly you could have gotten security if they got there so quickly What on earth were you thinking? This was terrible modeling for your children! To me this is the anti-mama bear, you chose to act in a way that traumatized your children!”
I can understand her real and valid concern – I did indeed step away from my children and set aside their emotional needs in that moment. They were deeply frightened when I was able to return to them, and my heart broke hearing my little one sob. While in the days that have followed both boys have shown remarkable resilience and understanding for what went down, the guilt remains. Still, I know that in that moment, there was no other safe choice for my community. The ignition was on, and she was about to drive away – nobody else was stepping forward, security was 5 minutes down the road and the police likely even further.
As I read her words, however, another layer of understanding came to me about this event, and all the stories women have now shared with me about the times when they stepped forward. Amongst the many life changes when I gave birth to my first son, perhaps the most surprising was my new depth of compassion and sense of connection with the world around me. I felt myself not only mothering my own child, but also feeling a sense of responsibility and caring for all human beings – children and adults alike.
I birthed only 2 months after 9/11, and with hatred and violence everywhere in the media, I found myself saddened in a way I had never before felt. Knowing what it means to love a child, I felt a new level of responsibility to stand for peace for all families, not just my own. As I grew in friendship with other new mothers, I was delighted to discover the depth of love I felt for their children as well. I am reminded of my dear friend whose daughter has always called me Mama Sarah. Her children are raised to recognize the other caring adults in their lives as integral parts of their extended family.
So yes, in that moment I did indeed set aside the immediate needs of my two precious boys, and I fervently wish there had been another option. But in that moment I recognized the responsibility to extend the same love and care I offer them, to not only the drunk woman who needed my love and care, but also all those other innocent people in my community who would have been at risk. And it’s the very same love and care, as one wise woman commented, that will help my children work through their experience in a positive way.
We mother our children – we mother the world. We are all responsible – for our own families, for our communities, mother earth, and the struggles occurring around the world. And it is my love for my children that has helped me to learn how to step forward in each of these realms and extend that love and care beyond our sweet little island home.
I’d love to hear from you all on this – has your sense of connectedness and responsibility changed through motherhood?
and because we’re a blogging kind of family…. my husband has of course just written a response to this as well! Read his post… I love that her words took us to similar musings in our separate computer nooks!
About Sarah Juliusson
Sarah Juliusson, founder of Mama Renew, is a gifted facilitator and writer on the journey of birth & motherhood. She brings two decades of experience supporting families through pregnancy, birth and motherhood to her work. Sarah is mother to two growing boys, a playful crafter with cloth & wool, student of traditional food preservation, and a diva at heart. Join the conversation on http://www.mamarenew.ca & on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/mamarenew