Becoming a mum has made me look at the world differently. Let's take Netflix. I haven't followed the science-fiction dystopian series 'Black Mirror' but watched one scene that unfortunately I haven't forgotten. A blind baby stood up in his cot unaware that his parents were murdered by the intruder who was walking towards him. She walked closer and closer to the cot. Oblivious to the fact that he was blind and wanting to cover her tracks, the viewer is not left guessing what will happen. I thought, 'what if that had been my son?'
In American spy-thriller 'Homeland', an Iranian intelligence officer arrived at the home of his ex-wife and daughter-in-law brutally murdering them both. The CIA arrive to a bloodbath and a baby innocently playing. Protagonist Carrie has orders to leave the baby so she places the baby safely in the playpen; this is profound as she is secretly pregnant with her own child. 'What if my son was left alone with no parents and no one to take care of him?'
OK – so maybe I need to choose more uplifting shows to watch. However, it's easier to distance myself from these stories – they're not true. On the other hand, the news presents real heartache happening to real people. Images of babies and children who are suffering invoke a powerful, emotional response from me more than they did before becoming a mum. It was hard to read such stories before motherhood, but now it could happen to my own flesh and blood.
The images of baby Charlie Gard in hospital as his parents fought desperately to take him to the United States for experimental treatment but were denied the request was heart-breaking. His life support was turned off and his parents couldn't take him home to spend his last days in peace. Then there was Alfie Evans whose parents were unsuccessful in transferring him to Rome for treatment. It was decided by medical staff and the courts that keeping Alfie on life support was not in his best interests. I cannot begin to imagine how it must feel - to be the doctors giving the news, the court giving their verdict or the parents' watching their child's health deteriorate. I know I would want to do everything I could for my son and stories like this make me consider what it would be like to be in that situation – it's difficult to think about.
Let's not forget three-year-old Alan Kurdi, the Syrian refugee who drowned in the Mediterranean Sea and washed up on the shores of Turkey, facedown as if he were sleeping. This image struck me hard without having my own child, but now watching my own little boy sleep on his stomach – it puts a greater lump in my throat. The love that parents' have for their children takes my breath away; they fight so hard to save them, whether trying an experimental treatment or fleeing from a war-torn country to a place of safety.
Other recent stories include the ultrasound picture of Logan Gomes who was stillborn making him the youngest victim of the Grenfell Tower blaze, the Republic of Ireland repealing a law that grants equal status to both mother and baby and parents being separated from their children by the US government at the US-Mexico border. All of these stories make for tough reading and harder writing as I reflect on each one in light of being a mum, imagining what each mother must be feeling at losing their child.
The hard truth is that there are things that will never be fully understood in this life. As my mum used to say - we have a piece of the puzzle, but it's God who sees the whole picture. I've found that knowing God as a Father gives me fresh vision for looking at the world because He is the ultimate parent. He knows what it's like to lose His only Son (John 3:16). We are adopted as children of God because of Jesus (John 1:12). God is a Father to the fatherless (Psalm 68:5). He knows what we need and provides for us (Luke 12:29-31). He disciplines like a loving father correcting his child (Proverbs 3:11-12). He has lavished His love on us (1 John 3:1). Seeing God as Father helps me to trust my own story, my son's story and the stories that I read about into His care.
With every doom and gloom report, there are many more uplifting stories of countless babies being born into loving families across the world, children overcoming illnesses and parents being reunited with their sons and daughters. As I read the difficult news stories, I need to remember that this isn't the end of the story. God the Father sees the completed picture even when it looks as if there are pieces missing - those parts of life that we just don't understand. God still sees the beauty in the lives of His children and each one of our stories matters to Him.