Please Ask For Help

I can’t fathom it. The whole story is so horrible my mind just won’t wrap around the thought of it. Maybe mothers killed their children 50 years ago, but I don’t recall reading stories like that when I was growing up.

Today it is a story way too commonly making the headlines. The latest is the mother in the Pittsburgh area who, by all accounts, was given not one, not two, but three opportunities to kill her children. The third time she succeeded.

According to previous reports, the woman ran over two of her children with her car. The children survived the “accident” with broken legs.

The next incident involved the woman leaving one of her children in a scorching hot car in the summertime. Police said the temperature inside the car was 112 degrees when they freed the little boy. The child had been left alone for 20 minutes in the heat of a mall parking lot. Again she faced a judge, was fined and the child was returned to her care.

Am I the only one to observe a pattern here? Obviously no one else noticed that the woman was just not right. When she explained her latest actions of placing her 3- and 6-year-old sons in a bathtub to drown them, I had to fight back the urge to throw up my breakfast.

The younger boy died an hour after being taken to a hospital. The other boy was in critical condition at presstime. A third boy, 7, was at school.

I know her lawyers will find a professional of some sort to explain that the woman was mentally incapacitated at the time of the drowning of her children. She will explain that she heard voices that urged her to kill the boys.

I wonder if those same voices told her to change into dry clothes as her two sons lay cold, and wet on the bathroom floor. Did the voices direct her to place her wet clothes and two towels into a garbage bag and take them out to the garage? She called 911 but did not perform CPR on her dying children.

Being a parent is one of the hardest jobs in the world. Today’s culture sees hundreds of thousands of single parents who are managing to raise their kids without killing them in the process. In two-parent homes, families are challenged to do their best at juggling multiple roles, including both parenting and working.

Even when I was home alone with a 2-month-old colicky baby who would not stop crying unless I turned on the vacuum sweeper, I never thought of hurting him. Even when I found myself sobbing on the kitchen floor trying to sort laundry in an absolute state of sleeplessness, I never thought to hurt my baby. I did think to call on other family members to help out when my husband was working his 24-hour firefighter shifts.

A child is a gift, a miracle, entrusted to us for care, love and security. There is no shame in asking for help when motherhood or fatherhood overwhelms. The shame comes when we don’t ask.

Heather Ziegler can be reached at