There are a number of things I have been mulling over to write about, but this terrible war in Israel and Gaza has most of my attention and concern. However, I will try to write about something else.
Recently I began working with two babies with Down Syndrome. Both are from hispanic families. I have now been seeing them for a few months and the mothers have gained my trust.
The thing that happens is that with each session the mothers talk to me a little more, about their concerns, their hopes, their faith, and they begin slowly to ask me more questions about myself, whether I believe in God, whether I have children, etc.
Two weeks ago, just as I was getting ready to leave, the one mother told me that she doesn't drive, and said how very difficult it is for her. The family live in a garage in Richmond. When the weather is cold there is no insulation and it is freezing despite the carpets and blankets they put down. When it is hot, it is very hot, and the mom cooks and fries food - she makes breakfast when I arrive, usually fried eggs and beans for her and her husband, and cereal or eggs for their three year old daughter. It is so warm and humid inside that my glasses fog over. She told me she doesn't drive and then said how tied down she is. She is with the two girls all day long. The daughter with Down syndrome likes to be held a lot, and it takes a long time to nurse her, because she does not have a powerful suck. She says when her husband returns from work she passes him the daughter and gives him a bottle for her and he insists that it is not his job, he works hard outside the home. She told him that if she had wanted a child alone, that is what she would have done, but they are together in this, they are a family and need to support each other. Of course this has created a lot of tension in the home and the older daughter picks up on this and reacts in her way, which is to be defiant and cry.
I asked the mom whether she would like some counseling. Teary eyed she replied that she would, and I told her I would see what I can arrange. To add to this situation are the constant money worries and the high cost of living. Mom is tired and depressed.
The other mother looks very young, but she is not as young as she appears. She has a nine year old daughter in El Salvador whom she has not seen for seven years. The daughter lives with her mother. The daughter would like to come here, but that is just not possible. The mom told me she fled from a situation of domestic violence in El Salvador and came here alone. Here in Richmond she and her husband and daughter live in an unsafe area. The other day as I sat with mom and her daughter a neighbor began to scream - "I have my rights, get out of here" in such a loud voice that it permeated the area and filled the street and surrounding apartments. Either the mother did not understand, or she is by now impervious to the goings on. I looked outside and saw three police cars and two ambulances parked in front of the neighbor's apartment. It was hard to talk to mom, but thankfully the little girl slept through everything. Thankfully, or it is yet another cause for concern, I suspect that she does not hear well. She does have an appointment for a hearing test soon.
Every time I get there mom gives me a letter she has received, some of them ask for money for their daughter's blood work etc. It seems to me Medical should be covering this. It looks like companies are taking chances of billing for covered services in the hopes that people who don't understand these letters will pay the amount they see out of fear. I help mom fill in forms and letters almost every week.
What is interesting is how universal the problems facing mothers are, whether the mothers are well educated and working, or on the lower end of the socio-economic scale. I suppose these gender related tensions and difficulties for stay at home mothers are not new, and it is not easy to work them out. I can at least be of emotional support to these women, and to listen to them, and to hug them when they cry.