Sunday, June 7, 2009

You can't believe everything you read

I've been preoccupied with a story this week - and I've been trying to decide what it means. For a long time, I've followed themcdonaldfive blog about a family with three kids, the youngest a medically-fragile, beautiful 3 year old. I've been reading vigilantly thorough the spring as little Dakota has had a string of health problems and things looked pretty dire. Then, the unthinkable happened: someone sent me this link. Emily Beth McDonald, 23, was arrested after allegedly smearing feces in her daughter's central line, causing a series of serious life-threatening blood infections.
My first reaction was to think that this is what you get when you believe what you read on the internet - I felt silly and duped for having worried and empathized. I wondered whether it makes sense to spend my time reading blogs and twittering with other mothers. But, I suppose it's true that any abuser would gets away with their behaviour is doing so secretly and has a good front story - or they'd never get away with it to begin with. This woman had tricked a good many people in her real life as well as with her internet persona. Her light, beautiful pictures and apparently honest, straightforward recounting of day-to-day life were easy to enjoy - the triumph of family over adversity. Of course, the allegations currently only relate to the last few weeks - so who knows how long it has been going on or in what ways the increasing attention she and her blog were getting fed into her attention-seeking.
Annie, over at PhD in Parenting wrote a post this week about "bad mothers" and had a feature on it. I've been thinking a lot about that in light of Emily McDonald and her family. How good mothers turn bad, how we judge each other and how we protect each others babies when bad really means evil. Hug your babies tight and keep your eyes open.


Patience said...

She sure is young to have three kids. I guess they call it Munchausen's by Proxy; don't they? Figures in Texas she'd get life but probably no psychiatric help. Texas; the state that gave us Andrea Yates.

Michelle said...

I know - I've been following her blog for some time now, but never really did the math on how young she was. She must have been 17-18 with her first.
The thing is that she really had a lot of people fooled & was remarkably articulate. Don't know if she really was ill - though MbyP is incurable I think (somewhat like pedophilia). Those poor, poor kids & her husband...