Thursday, April 13, 2006

Parents vs. Life

At the SF Weekly, Matt Smith writes movingly about the death of three-year old Olive Woo Murphy, who was in his daughter's pre-school class:

On March 29 Olive's mother, Linda Woo, brought her two children and a portable barbecue into a Subaru Outback at their Ingleside home. When a neighbor found them, Olive was dead from the barbecue's fumes. Her brother Carter, 4, was unconscious. Woo was still awake. She had reportedly been distraught over a recent separation from her husband. The resulting murder and attempted murder charges carry 25 years to life...

A jury will soon attempt to fathom what Linda Woo's demented thoughts were when she killed little Olive. So there's no point doing that now. We're merely left pondering whether, or when, there will be a next time, and if we're doing enough for children and their caregivers, and for people struggling, or who appear as if they might be struggling, with depression or other mental illness. We're left looking around us at a city that, despite its plethora of playgrounds, programs, and beautiful places for children to live, can be a lonely, stressful, even anguishing place for a mother. If you know one, this might be a good week to ask how she's doing, and listen. Ask if she needs any help. Then follow through if she does...

I recently discovered that a mom close to me is seriously depressed and even afraid that she might hurt her baby. Many parents I know in San Francisco feel pushed to the very edge. It's mostly moms, but stay-at-home dads -- not to mention working dads and moms - are also struggling to keep their heads above water. We face criticism from relatives, stress over money and work, conflict with our spouses, anxieties over status - the list is endless.

I guess I only want to second Smith's call to ask a mom how she's doing, and really listen. And ask a dad, too, especially a stay-at-home dad: in our culture (and in many cultures) men are punished, in ways large and small, subtle and obvious, for revealing anxieties or sharing emotions. That doesn't mean that they're not anxious or emotional. Dads and moms: when someone you trust asks how you're doing, don't be afraid to tell the truth. There are so many barriers that divide us; but if we can step over them, we might just help each other out.

[By the way, the photos for both today and April 10 were taken by our friend, Negar Siadatnejad. The April 10 photos of the immigration march in San Francisco were all taken by my wife Shelly.]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Jeremy,



Matt Smith