Kick has had the same caregiver since she was eight weeks old.
We are unendingly blessed to have, in our life-with-newborn state of dazed terror, stumbled upon a woman who has spent the past four years filling our daughter’s life with joy and adventure. I fully believe this person puts my child’s happiness above her own on a daily basis and would stop at nothing to keep Kick from harm. She has keys to my house and we’ve borrowed each other’s cars and I trust her completely.
Yet at least once a day I freak out at my desk because Kick is beyond both earshot and arm’s reach of me at that exact moment and I want nothing more than to call up and be like, “So whatcha doin’?” like a fucking psychopath. I was once stranded an extra day on a work trip due to weather and Kick was so happy WITH MY OWN ACTUAL PARENTS she didn’t even want to talk on the phone, and I still nearly tore LaGuardia apart with my bare hands trying to get a flight back in a blizzard because I needed to see my baby.
Growing a human being inside you makes you insane. You all know me, I don’t think women have magical powers and “mommy instinct” isn’t really a thing, but what is a thing? Is having carried a person curled up under your rib cage next to your heart, inside your pulse, feeling them twist and roll and settle into your bones. You never get to be that close to them again and that loss? Is incomprehensible.
In my case it flipped an anxiety switch that obliterated pretty much MY ENTIRE PERSONALITY. Kick was 8 miles away from me as I wrote this, digging in the sandbox a block from our house, with a caregiver who I think sometimes is better for her than I am, and I know objectively that’s where she should be.
But I also know people shoot heroin at that park and every few weeks the city has to comb all the used condoms out of that sandbox and humans are filth pigs and if some creepy old asshole told Kick he had a kitten in his panel van she would totally go with him to see it and she eats anything an adult will put in front of her and is insanely confident about finding her own way places and it only takes ten seconds for a normal day to turn into an episode of SVU.
(Of course none of this will happen. My therapist calls this “catastrophizing.” I was astonished to learn we had a name for what, previously, I had thought of as “being alive.”)
My point is that I can’t be away from my kid, even when she is driving me crazy, for more than 5 minutes without my whole body screaming at me that SOMETHING IS WRONG NOW. Right now at this moment I know exactly where Kick is, and who she is with, and that she is well, and the urge to flip my desk and cab it home and hold her is so powerful it gives me the shakes.
When we woke up the next morning, immigration officers brought us outside where there were two government cars waiting. They said that I would be going to one place, and my son would go to another. I asked why repeatedly, but they didn’t give me a reason.
The officers forced me to strap my son into a car seat. As I looked for the buckles, my hands shook, and my son started to cry. Without giving me even a moment to comfort him, the officer shut the door. I could see my son through the window, looking back at me — waiting for me to get in the car with him — but I wasn’t allowed to. He was screaming as the car drove away.
A few things about this story that have arisen in the past week: No, MAGA-troids, this is not necessary to deter anyone who is being threatened politically from seeking asylum in the U.S. because nobody thinks about packing up their toddlers and crawling across half a damn continent unless shit is really, really real. So stop with the “maybe they just shouldn’t come here then” crap. The mother in the story above was being teargassed in her home. Most of you red-hatted barcalounging segregationists would shit yourselves if you heard a bottle rocket in the alley.
You are the demographic that calls the cops on black people golfing. If the 82nd Airborne threw down in your cul-de-sac you’d flee to Canada faster than a flock of geese.
Additionally, yes, we can let these people in and give them asylum, them and their families. We can house them, feed them, give them health care and papers and jobs, for roughly what Jeff Bezos blows on lunch. That we have decided not to, and have given it to Jeff B. instead, is a decision we have made and not a reflection on what is physically possible. So just save your “this is what happens in the Great Battle for the Soul of White America” or whatever you are on about in the U.S. comments sections.
Last but not least, STOP THROWING OBAMA AROUND TO JUSTIFY THIS. If this happened under Obama it was bullshit and should stop. It is happening under Trump, and it is bullshit, and it should stop. Both those things can be true. I have zero interest here in being morally superior so if I congratulate you on your superior OWNZING of the neolibs with your “this is an Obama policy” crack, can we give these mothers their babies back please? Can we do the job in front of us, right now today?
Because it’s monstrous. It’s incomprehensible. There is no reason for it and there’s no possible justification that fits within the bounds of human decency. The ONLY justification for doing it to other parents is that our society sincerely considers that perhaps parents of color do not love their children as much as we virtuous honkies do. That they wouldn’t tear the world open with their teeth to get their children back.
I don’t believe that of anyone.