You've probably heard about the story of the 4-year-old boy who fell into a gorilla enclosure at The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden on Saturday, May 28, after which zoo personnel fatally shot 17-year-old Harambe, a 400-pound western lowland gorilla. If you haven't, well, that's exactly what happened. A toddler passed through multiple barriers, fell 10 feet and, for fear that the child's life was in danger (a point still being argued), the endangered gorilla was shot. The situation has sparked passionate debates and public outrage, and there are (undoubtably) a few thoughts every mom had when she heard about Harambe and the boy who fell into his enclosure, subsequently setting the internet (and the country) on fire with endless opinions and finger-pointing.
I, personally, avoided talking about the situation entirely, whether it was on the internet or, well, anywhere else. It's so easy to get swept up into the all-encompassing emotions of it all. I can understand all sides, as an animal-lover and as a mother. I can understand how a mother may lose sight of her child, for even a second, and how that second can be long enough for something terrible to happen. I can understand why animal rights activists are so upset that a beautiful, regal creature was killed for something it didn't do, something completely out of its control, something that didn't warrant death. I can, well, just understand. Which is why it's difficult to voice an opinion without feeling torn in a million different directions. Basically, my heart aches, and I'd imagine most mothers (and, you know, people) across the country feel the same way.
Which is why, while there is no end to the number of people who are weighing in on what happened and/or what should have happened, mothers seem to have a unique reaction to the entire situation. Once you're a mom, your perspective does shift and your ability to put yourself in someone else's shoes does (or should) grow and you view the world in a slightly different way, for better or worse. So, with that in mind, here are eight things every mom thought when she heard about the 4-year-old-boy falling into the gorilla exhibit, because there isn't a single situation in life that is cut and dry.
"That Could Have Been Me"
While the mother of the 4-year-old is being nothing short of attacked (on social media, and seemingly everywhere else) every mother will be acutely aware (I hope) that this could have easily happened to her. We all lose sight of our children for a second, especially when they're toddlers and especially when there's more than one of them to keep an eye on. They're quick buggers and ridiculously determined and absolutely overwhelming. We're not perfect; we make mistakes; and sometimes those mistakes come at a great price. Sure, it's easy to place blame, but before you do that, take note of all the mistakes you've made as a parent (or, you know, a human being) and think about that one tiny detail or one second in time that kept it from being absolutely horrific.
"I Bet That Mother Was Terrified"
I, for one, can get uneasy when certain people are around my kid. Is it entirely fair? No. Honestly, some of it is rooted in a gut feeling that I absolutely trust; some of it is rooted in an illogical fear that I haven't been able to shake since becoming a parent; while some of it is rooted in stereotypes that have been engrained in me since always. I can't imagine how that mother felt when she saw her son next to such an awe-inspiring creature. I know she felt helpless. I know she felt terrified. I know that an endless barrage of potentially horrific scenarios played in her mind, some rooted in possibility and some, well, not. Either way, it had to have been terrifying.
"I Hope She Doesn't Blame Herself"
Mom guilt is a very real thing, especially when it comes at the hands of a mistake and especially when it is being forced on you from seemingly everyone. The mother of the four year old has been inundated with an endless amount of blame, even receiving death threats and calls for CPS to be dispatched to her home, as if this one instance is somehow indicative of overall parenting capabilities. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want to be wildly judged for one mistake I made because, trust me, I've made my fair share.
"I Hope She's Not Contemplating The What Ifs"
There's absolutely no reason to re-play a mistake over and over and over again, in your mind. I mean, it's happened. It's over. There's absolutely nothing anyone can do, short of defying time and going back to the moments before it happened (and that's just not a thing). That said, I know how easy it is to get stuck in the "what ifs" of a situation that has come and gone. I hope she's able to move forward and move on.
"I Hope The Mom Has Support"
I hope the mom has some support, because right now, the public is being anything but kind and understanding. I hope that she has someone she can lean on and turn to; I hope she has the means to seek counseling if necessary; I hope she has family members and friends who will continue to love her, regardless. I mean, every mother should have that, right?
"What Would I Have Done If That Were My Kid?"
There are so many "worst-case scenarios" I have played in my head. Things that probably won't happen but definitely could happen and because I want to be as prepared as possible, I've thought about them all. When I heard about this unique situation, I definitely stopped to think about what I would have done. I replayed the moments as they've been recounted to endless media outlets, and tried to imagine myself in that mother's shoes. Would I have been inconsolable? Would I have been able to remain calm? Would I have begged someone to shoot such a beautiful creature? Would I have been able to see that, maybe, the gorilla wasn't hurting my son but, in fact, protecting him? It's hard to weed through the multiple feelings and say, with absolutely certainty, what I would have done in those moments.
"This Is Just Horrible, All Around"
And honestly, I think that's the best way to describe the entire situation. It's horrible that a little boy fell that far into an enclosure. It's horrible that a beautiful animal was killed. It's horrible that the mother is being attacked for a mistake. It's horrible that the zoo didn't have the ability to keep that animal alive, and that child safe. It's horrible that the toddler could even get into the enclosure, in the first place. It's all just horrible and, hopefully, we all learn from this situation so that something similar doesn't happen again. I mean, that is what mistakes are supposed to do, right? Give us the tools and knowledge and ability to avoid making them again?
"I Hope The Family Can Remain Safe"
Outrage is a crazy thing, and the amount of anger people are feeling towards the mom and her family are bordering (if not already surpassing) dangerous. In fact, even the 4-year-old boy is receiving death threats, as if he is able to completely understand or even remotely comprehend what happened. I, for one, hope this family is able to remain safe in the face of so many angered individuals.